The 9 best ways the 120th U.S. Open can finish, ranked!
So far at this U.S. Open the delicate feelings of the Winged Foot membership has been the dominant story, but on Sunday we will transcend the narrative of the course setup and crown a worthy champion. Here are the nine best possible storylines, assuming a winning score of three under. (Dan Jenkins used to mutter through the corner of his mouth that 280 always wins the Open but this new generation of bomb-and-gougers are doing things we never thought possible.)
Patrick Reed shoots 64 to win.
Reed led by three strokes three holes into the third round but then came utterly undone, hitting a bunch of wayward shots and following with uncharacteristic short-game blunders. Reed is not exactly the people’s choice but any player who wins at Augusta National and Winged Foot has to be given their due.
Viktor Hovland shoots 65 to win.
Collin Morikawa and Matt Wolff have enjoyed their starturn, so why not their exuberant mate from the class of 2019? This week is proof that driving accuracy has never been more overrated, but Hovland has among the game’s most potent blend of power and precision, giving him a chance to attack from behind. Here’s hoping.
Louis Oosthuizen shoots 68 to win.
If you’re graphing likability and gorgeous golf swings King Louis is right up there alongside Adam Scott as the biggest outliers. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that these gentle souls have each won only one major championships despite plentiful opportunities. Now Oosthuizen has yet another opportunity to change his legacy. Does he want it as much as we want it for him?
Hideki Matsuyama shoots 67 to win.
The longtime cult favorite could own Asia by winning America’s national championship as a runup to the Tokyo Olympics. It may feel like Matsuyama has been around since the ‘90s but he’s still only 28. With seven previous top-10s in the majors he’s paid his dues.
Xander Schauffele shoots 67 to win.
X has quietly built himself into one of the best players in the world, and a win here takes him to an entirely different level. The kid may not ooze pizzazz but there is nothing not to like about Schauffele.
Dustin Johnson shoots 62 to win.
On Saturday, Winged Foot gave up some low scores to the dewsweepers (see Alex Noren’s 67 and Paul Casey’s back-nine 30) and this just feels like the kind of U.S. Open where someone goes out early on Sunday and posts a great number, just to add an additional layer of intrigue. Among the players outside the top 20 on this leaderboard, the current world number 1 is the most obvious candidate to take it crazy-low. Johnson has made a paltry total of seven birdies so far, so the guy who conquered Oakmont is clearly due.
Matthew Wolff shoots 72 to win.
How wild would it be if Wolff is the reigning champ of both the U.S. Open and NCAA Championship? Playing in only his second career major championship, the 21 year-old Tour sophomore lit up Winged Foot with an electric third round 65 that was a monument to power and finesse. Now Wolff has a chance to become the youngest U.S. Open champ since Bobby Jones. Telegenic, athletic, pleasant and possessing the most mind-bending swing in the game, Wolff would immediately become the poster boy for the post-Tiger era if he wins this Open.
Bryson DeChambeau shoots 70 to win.
Maybe the only good thing to come out of 2020 is that DeChambeau remade his body and game to become golf’s most polarizing and fascinating character, adding some spice to a Tour that trends bland. A.W. Tillinghast is surely rolling over in his grave but the way DeChambeau attacks Winged Foot is a blend of art, science and daredevilry. A victory would break Golf Twitter and elevate DeChambeau from a conversation piece to superstardom.
Rory McIlroy shoots 66 to win.
The former boy king has played two of the best rounds of the week, a 67 on Thursday and 68 on Saturday, which makes his listless second round 76 all the more baffling. But McIlory, winless in the major championships since 2014, is only two shots out of third place and can freewheel it from the edge of contention, which should suit him. A win by McIlroy would be wildly popular and set up the 31-year-old new dad for a huge second act to his career.