U.S. Open 2020: 5 things to know for Sunday’s final round at Winged Foot
We’re through 54 holes at the U.S. Open and the stage is set for a thrilling Sunday finish. A series of converging storylines greet the field at Winged Foot for Sunday’s final round — from course conditions through to a historically young final-round leader.
Saturday’s third round featured far less activity than we’ve come to expect from a major championship moving day, perhaps in part due to a shape-shifting setup that favored those who began their round in the afternoon. But as we enter Sunday with yet another new leader (the third in as many days) and even fewer golfers managing to cling to scores under par, golf fans couldn’t ask for much more.
Who will claim the second major championship of 2020? And what will their final score be? The answer greets us Sunday evening in Mamaroneck, N.Y. Here are five things to know for the final round.
The Young Wolff
The 54-hole lead at a U.S. Open isn’t supposed to belong to a 21-year-old golfer. Players *that* young aren’t supposed to thrive in conditions *this* tough, particularly at a classic open venue like Winged Foot.
But still, it is 21-year-old Matthew Wolff with the lead heading into the final round of the national championship. Wolff’s third-round 65 vaulted him into the lead on Saturday and into Sunday’s final pairing. He seeks to become the youngest golfer to win the Open since Jordan Spieth in 2015 at the same age, and the seventh-youngest golfer ever to claim the national title.
A wicked Foot
If there were ever a time to see Winged Foot in all its chaotic glory, it would be Sunday. After Thursday’s softer conditions yielded a throng of lower scores, the West Course has stiffened up significantly into the weekend.
Just three golfers sit in the red heading into the final round, and if past history is any example, it’s likely we’ll see the most diabolical pins and greens of the week on Sunday. We heard early in the week that USGA officials were hoping to “let Winged Foot be Winged Foot,” we’ll find out on Sunday if that task was successful.
Is this the week we’re going to see a beefed-up Bryson DeChambeau claim his first major? Bryson heads into Sunday two strokes off the lead after an even-par 70 on Saturday. While it’s easy to find the reasons why he might struggle (he’s been fantastic scrambling all weekend but could run into issues hitting to tighter pins), it’s perhaps easier to surmise why he could walk away the champion on Sunday.
Bryson’s short game has been strong enough to give him birdie looks all week, and there’s the sense that his score could be even lower after missing a few short putts on Saturday. If he comes out swinging on Sunday, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the mad scientist with his greatest professional vindication to date.
While Wolff and DeChambeau are the only candidates who have a chance to run away with the tournament on Sunday, there are a whole host of names who could be in position to stage a late run.
Louis Oosthuizen at one under is an obvious choice, as are Hideki Matsuyama, Harris English and Xander Schauffele at even par. Even Zach Johnson, at two over, could be in good position to post a low score early and wind up atop the leaderboard.
Does Rory have them on the ropes?
Rory McIlroy isn’t too far off the lead himself, sitting at one over through 54 holes. But perhaps more importantly is how he got to one over — by grinding his way through a Saturday 68 after his disastrous second round.
He’s got work to do heading into Sunday, but he says he likes where he’s at.
“If Matt pars his way in and is five under par, I still don’t think that’s out of it by any stretch of the imagination,” McIlroy said. “You know, it doesn’t take much around here for — someone gets off to a decent start, maybe one or two under through 5 and then the leader goes the other way, one or two over through 5, and all of a sudden you’re right in the thick of things.”