News & Opinion

2020 U.S. Open: Winged Foot invites a Sunday surprise

Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau 3rd round 2020 U.S. Open
Patrick Reed (left) and Bryson DeChambeau move in opposite directions on the leaderboard Saturday. DeChambeau will begin Sunday’s final round in 2nd place, 2 strokes behind Matthew Wolff, but Reed, the 36-hole leader, drops to T-11 and faces an 8-stroke deficit.

Leader Matthew Wolff’s 65 signals to challengers that a move can be made in the final round and that 16 or more players still can win

MAMARONECK, N.Y. – If Winged Foot has taught us anything after three rounds, it’s that the suburban New York course is fickle.

It can be hospitable, as it was in the first round when conditions were perfect for scoring and “The Foot” proved to be cordial to its guests, 21 of whom broke par.

But when questioned about its friendly demeanor, Winged Foot became a little testy on Friday, with cooler and windier conditions, making everyone in the field work extra hard for anything they got.

In Saturday’s third round, the weather still was a factor, but the talent of those who made the cut shined. Seven players broke par, led by leader Matthew Wolff’s 5-under 65, setting up a Sunday showdown as 16 players are within eight strokes of Wolff’s 5-under 205 lead (scores / tee times).

What to expect from Sunday’s final round will depend a lot on the temperature, wind speed and direction, which should be a little cooler and a little breezier.

In matching the low score of the tournament, Justin Thomas’ first-round 65, the 21-year-old Wolff put himself in the cross hairs in only his second start in a major championship and his 30th on the PGA Tour.

What Wolff did on Saturday was communicate to anyone at or near par that they still have a chance, should Wolff not take care of business.

But what Wolff will need to shoot is anyone’s guess. Just a month ago, Dustin Johnson entered the final round of the PGA Championship with a one-shot lead after shooting a 5-under 65 in the third round. Many media members predicted that if Johnson could shoot under par, the Wanamaker Trophy would be his to take home.

Johnson managed a 2-under 68 at TPC Harding Park, but he didn’t count on someone shooting a 6-under 64, which Collin Morikawa did in winning. Johnson playing seemingly well enough to win, but somebody else played better.

Winged Foot is different than than Harding Park. Its reputation for difficulty scares many competitors before they arrive.

The lore of Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie spitting the bit on the 18th hole in the 2006 U.S. Open and opening the door for Australian Geoff Ogilvy is legendary.

Of course, the 2006 version of the national championship, which Ogilvy won at 5 over, never produced scoring at this level. Par is important in 2020, but it likely will not be enough to win Sunday.

Though Wolff has the driving distance and an even temperament, he will be paired with the mercurial Bryson DeChambeau.

DeChambeau started Saturday with two consecutive bogeys, but he didn’t snap. He finished in birdie-birdie-bogey and ended two behind Wolff and in the final group.

Interestingly, DeChambeau, who shot even-par 70, and third-round leader Patrick Reed, who stumbled to a 7-over 77 and a tie for 11th, eight strokes back, both think they have a chance to win, albeit one much better than the other.

“I am excited to be in this position, for sure,” DeChambeau said. “There's no better place to be.”

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