Harris English secured his first win since 2013 with a play-off victory at the Tournament of Champions on Sunday.

The American carded a four-under 69 in the final round to finish alongside Joaquin Niemann (64) at the end of regulation in Kapalua, Hawaii.

English stepped up to birdie the par-five 18th hole in the play-off, overcoming Niemann for his first win since 2013.

"It's incredible," he told the Golf Channel after his third PGA Tour success.

"A lot of hard work over the years, you never think you're going to get here again, winning twice back in 2013 and it's just hard to win out here.

"I had a really good chance this week and felt good about my game and you've just got to get it done."

Niemann produced a stunning nine-under 64 in the final round to finish at 25 under.

But English birdied his final hole to force a play-off and he delivered to secure the title.

Two-time champion Justin Thomas (66) finished at 24 under, a shot ahead of Ryan Palmer (71).

Im Sung-jae (69) and Xander Schauffele (66) ended up tied for fifth at 21 under.

World number two Jon Rahm got going with a six-under 67, but it was only enough to finish tied for seventh alongside Bryson DeChambeau (66) and Collin Morikawa (73).

Dustin Johnson, meanwhile, carded a second straight 69 to finish tied for 11th.

Harris English pulled two strokes clear at the halfway mark of the Tournament of Champions as Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm made their moves.

English, who shared the overnight lead with Justin Thomas, carded a six-under 67 in the second round in Kapalua, Hawaii on Friday.

The American produced a bogey-free round that featured six birdies to move into 14 under at the first PGA Tour event of 2021.

English is two shots ahead of Thomas (69), Daniel Berger (65), Collin Morikawa (65) and Ryan Palmer (67).

Thomas, a two-time champion of the tournament, made four birdies on his front nine but a bogey at 13 slowed his momentum before picking up another shot at the last.

The world's two top-ranked players, Johnson and Rahm, charged into contention.

Johnson, who opened with a 71, made eight birdies in a second-round eight-under 65 to get to 10 under – enough for a tie for 10th.

Rahm is alongside him after the Spaniard produced a fast finish, birdieing five of his final seven holes.

Xander Schauffele (66), Brendon Todd (67), Im Sung-jae (68) and Patrick Reed (68) are tied for sixth at 11 under.

Joining Johnson and Rahm at 10 under are Scottie Scheffler (66), Bryson DeChambeau (67), Joaquin Niemann (67), Carlos Ortiz (67) and Patrick Cantlay (68).

Justin Thomas carded an eight-under 65 to share the lead after the opening round of the Tournament of Champions on Thursday.

Two-time champion Thomas produced a bogey-free first round that included eight birdies in Kapalua, Hawaii.

The world number three, winner of the event in 2017 and 2020, made five birdies on the front nine and three on his final five holes.

Thomas shares a two-stroke lead with Harris English in the first PGA Tour event of the year.

The highlight of English's round was an eagle at the ninth hole, where he chipped in from just off the green.

On what is a congested leaderboard, six players are tied for third at six under.

Sergio Garcia, Robert Streb, Nick Taylor, Ryan Palmer, Im Sung-jae and Patrick Reed all opened with 67s.

Garcia won the tournament in 2002, while Reed was victorious in 2015 and has two runner-up finishes since – including last year.

Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay and Brendon Todd carded five-under 68s.

World number one Dustin Johnson is back in a tie for 30th after opening with a 71, while Jon Rahm carded a 70.

Jon Rahm moved into a five-way share of the lead when the second round of The Masters was completed and Bryson DeChambeau only just avoided missing the cut on Saturday.

Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Abraham Ancer and Cameron Smith topped the leaderboard after completing 36 holes before play was halted in fading light at Augusta on Friday.

Rahm holed a short birdie putt when he resumed at the 13th hole to join that quartet and the world number two remained at nine under after signing for a 66 following five consecutive pars.

The composed Spaniard chipped in from the edge of the green at 15 to remain a joint-leader of a major that is finely poised on moving day.

DeChambeau was in danger of making an early exit, but sneaked in for the rest of the weekend by the skin of his teeth, moving just about the cut line despite finishing with back-to-back bogeys to sign for a 74.

Pre-tournament favourite DeChambeau, who revealed a COVID-19 test he took after playing on Friday as he was feeling dizzy came back negative, faced an anxious wait to see if the cut line would be moved but the U.S. Open champion was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Patrick Reed moved into the top 10 after heading back out for an early start, picking up a couple of shots to sit in contention on eight under with a second successive four-under 68.

Defending champion Tiger Woods is just four shots off the pace on a congested leaderboard following a second round of 71, a birdie at 15 moving him on to five under.

Justin Rose, the leader at the end of a weather-affected first day, carded a two-under 70 and is two shots adrift of the leaders.

 

Bryson DeChambeau faces a challenge to make the cut at this year's Masters as four players shared the lead at the end of day two at Augusta. 

Masters debutant Abraham Ancer, Cameron Smith, Justin Thomas and world number one Dustin Johnson are all on nine under at the top of a congested leaderboard. 

However, after his difficulties on day one drew plenty of attention, DeChambeau is in real danger of missing out on playing in the final two rounds in Georgia at the rearranged major. 

Having proclaimed he was going to play Augusta as if it was a par 67, DeChambeau carded a 70 in his opening round but had slipped back to one over for the tournament when play was halted due to bad light. 

DeChambeau will need to be inside the top 50 including ties to sit the right side of the cut line, though he made a dismal start on Friday when he hit a triple bogey on the third. 

The U.S. Open champion dropped further shots at the fourth, fifth and seventh, though that error was wedged between two birdies in an up-and-down front nine. 

Yet another bogey followed on the 10th, but DeChambeau closed out for the day with a birdie on the 12th and launched a drive over the trees to leave himself in with a great chance of an eagle on the par-five 13th when he returns to finish off his round.

Jon Rahm, meanwhile, looks well set to make it a five-way share for the lead when he starts again on Saturday, having left himself a six-foot putt for birdie on the 13th green. 

Overnight leader Paul Casey dropped his first shot of the day with a bogey at the 10th - he sliced his third right across the green - to sit on six under through 12 holes, while Lee Westwood moved himself back to three under before the hooter went. 

Tiger Woods was in indifferent form through his opening nine holes as he remained on four under, while Hideki Matsuyama is just one stroke off the lead with three to play thanks to a birdie on the 15th, with Sungjae Im and Patrick Cantlay also on eight under.

Brooks Koepka enjoyed a strong finish to his round, successive birdies on his final two holes moving the former world number one to five under. 

"I need to clean it up for the weekend if I want to win. No three putts," he told Sky Sports. "I feel fine, I am glad to be done, go put my feet up, go work out – not that excited as I have got legs today, it's going to be a long day. 

"My body feels great, just need to clean up those sloppy mistakes."

Paul Casey will carry a two-stroke lead into Friday at the Masters as Tiger Woods made an impressive start to his title defence at a rain-hit Augusta.

Casey opened with a seven-under 65 in Georgia on Thursday, but the first round was initially delayed and then suspended for almost three hours due to inclement weather.

The Englishman, who was runner-up at the US PGA Championship earlier this year for his 10th top-10 finish at a major, produced a bogey-free round that included an eagle and five birdies.

Casey sat two strokes clear of American duo Webb Simpson and Xander Schauffele, who opened with 67s, when play was suspended for the day due to darkness with 44 players yet to get through 18 holes.

It continued Simpson's fine form, having finished in the top 20 in each of his past six starts on the PGA Tour.

But all eyes were on Woods, who started his title defence with a four-under 68.

Having sensationally won his 15th major at the Masters last year, Woods entered the tournament with just one top-10 finish in 2020 and that came at the Farmers Insurance Open in January.

However, the American – starting on the back nine – made three birdies in four holes from the 13th and picked up a shot at the first during a bogey-free first round.

A five-time Masters winner, Woods' 68 tied his lowest first-round score at the tournament and was his first bogey-free round in a major since the 2009 US PGA Championship.

Woods' round left him in an eight-way tie for fourth, with Hideki Matsuyama, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen and Patrick Reed alongside him and having completed their rounds.

But Adam Scott (through 10), Justin Thomas (through nine) and Dylan Frittelli (through eight) were all flying and at four under before play was suspended.

Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, made four birdies on the front nine, while Thomas and Frittelli made more mixed starts.

World number one Dustin Johnson (through eight) and Jon Rahm (69) were among a group at three under alongside Rickie Fowler (through 11) and Matthew Wolff (through 10).

U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau recovered from a double bogey at the 13th hole to post a two-under 70 and sit in a tie for 19th, a position he is joined in by Jason Day (70) and Justin Rose (through eight) among others.

Rory McIlroy struggled to get much going, reaching even par halfway through his round, while Brooks Koepka was one over through nine.

Jordan Spieth, the 2015 winner, showed no signs of turning his poor form around, opening with a 74.

Bryson Dechambeau started the Masters with contrasting back-to-back pars but Xander Schauffele got off to a flyer after play was suspended for almost three hours at Augusta on Thursday.

There was another frustrating wait at the start of a major that was put back seven months due to the coronavirus pandemic, as inclement weather brought the players off the course just after the first round had got under way.

When play resumed at 10.20am local time in Georgia following heavy downpours, it was Canadian Corey Conners who came up with the first birdie.

Tournament favourite Dechambeau, starting his quest for a second major title on the back nine, had a putt for a birdie on the 10th but saw his putt jump from left to right.

The U.S. Open champion had to scramble to avoid a bogey at the par-four 11th after his tee shot went into the woods, sinking a seven-foot putt and the American remained level par through three holes.

Jon Rahm, playing in the same group as Dechambeau, was two over after back-to-back bogeys.

Schauffele could not have wished for a better start on the front nine, reeling off birdies at each of the opening three holes to lead the way.

The 62-year-old Larry Mize, Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Scottie Scheffler were two under early on.

 

 

The enforced rescheduling of the 2020 Masters promises to make this year's tournament at Augusta National even more unpredictable than it always is.

Augusta's beauty is not borne just from its colourful, blooming azaleas (albeit they will have a far more Autumnal look this year). No, it is the way year after year it can chew up and spit out the greatest golf has to offer, providing drama at every turn.

With the coronavirus crisis meaning the battle for the green jacket was postponed from its traditional spot of April to November, it is more difficult than ever to try and pick a winner.

But six of Stats Perform News' finest have had a go at doing so ahead of the action getting underway, without fans, on Thursday.

THE TIME HAS COME FOR XANDER – Dan Lewis

After ending as runner-up last year and finishing in the top five in half of his major appearances, the time has come for Xander Schauffele to land his first big title. He was one of six players to have the lead at some point during the final round in 2019 and, with a year's more experience under his belt, he enters this tournament in good stead.

HATTON CAN COMPLETE JOURNEY FROM WANNABE TO SUPERSTAR – Jon Fisher

Winner of the European Tour's flagship event at Wentworth in October, Tyrrell Hatton appears in great shape to do the same on the other side of the pond. He doesn't possess the greatest record at Augusta with a finish of 44th his best in three attempts but an accurate long game and deft touch around the greens make him well-placed to crown a breakthrough 2020. Don't be surprised to see him donning the Green Jacket on Sunday to complete his transformation from petulant wannabe to global superstar.

THIS IS DUSTIN'S YEAR AT AUGUSTA – Chris Myson

World number one Dustin Johnson is yet to win the Masters but has placed in the top 10 in each of his last four Augusta appearances, including his tie for second last year, while he was cruelly denied in 2017 when he fell down a staircase ahead of the event. This could finally be his year, with Johnson in fine form: six straight top-10s included winning the Northern Trust and impressive showings at the other two majors.

DECHAMBEAU PRIMED TO GO BACK-TO-BACK – Peter Hanson

It was always likely to be a case of when not if Bryson DeChambeau became a major winner and now the man dubbed 'The Mad Scientist' has overcome that mental hurdle by dominating at the U.S. Open, there is no reason to suggest he cannot go back-to-back in the majors. A bulkier DeChambeau averaged the longest driving distance off the tee in the 2020 PGA Tour season (322.1 yards) and already leads the statistics in the 2021 campaign (344.4), albeit having only played eight rounds. Augusta is not exactly a course you can just blitz – you need touch around the green, solid putting and the ability to scramble – but it is certainly going to do his chances no harm.

WINGED FOOT WAS A BLIP, RAHM WILL CONTEND AT AUGUSTA – Joe Wright

He might have had a disappointing time at the U.S. Open in September, but there's little reason to discount Rahm from challenging for a maiden major this week. The Spaniard triumphed at the Memorial Tournament and the BMW Championship following the PGA Tour's return, making 2020 the most successful year of his career. While finishing 23rd at Winged Foot was frustrating, Rahm was just a stroke behind winner Patrick Cantlay at the Zozo Championship last month, hitting 11 of 13 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation in an impressive final round.

BEING UNDER THE RADAR MIGHT SUIT MCILROY – Timothy Abraham

Rory McIlroy heads into his 12th Masters a little out of sorts. The Northern Irishman has slipped down the rankings, from first to fifth, since golf restarted after lockdown. He finished 21st at the CJ Cup and 17th at the Zozo Championship last month, results that do not exactly bode particularly well form wise. But without any of the usual pre-Masters hype, the pressure will firmly be off the 31-year-old heading to Augusta. McIlroy's last win at a major came with a second PGA title in 2014, but that elusive green jacket might just come out of the blue.

Patrick Cantlay upstaged Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm to win the Zozo Championship on Sunday.

Cantlay claimed his third PGA Tour victory after shooting a seven-under 65 in the final round at Sherwood Country Club in California.

The American produced a fine performance on Sunday, mixing nine birdies – tying his career-best in a round on the PGA Tour – with two bogeys.

Cantlay made four birdies in a five-hole stretch beginning at the 11th, including producing a wonderful tee shot at the par-three 15th.

"I've been playing really well I feel like the last little stretch, I just haven't put it together four days in a row and this week it was different," he told NBC after his first win of 2020.

"I played really well in Vegas so I tried to take the first week in Vegas [at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open], just try to take as much as I could from those first three days.

"It was nice to get off to a good start today and I played really well."

Thomas, who held the overnight lead, and Rahm finished tied for second a shot behind Cantlay.

Rahm (68) pushed to force a play-off but missed a 19-footer for birdie at the last, while Thomas carded a 69.

Russell Henley (66), Cameron Smith (67), Bubba Watson (68) and Ryan Palmer (69) finished tied for fourth at 19 under.

Rory McIlroy continued his good finish with a six-under 66 in the final round.

The Northern Irishman fired rounds of 67, 67 and 66 to finish the tournament, left to lament his opening 73 as he ended up tied for 17th.

McIlroy finished with 29 birdies during the tournament, which is his career-high on the PGA Tour.

Tiger Woods, the defending champion and 15-time major winner, struggled, a two-over 74 seeing him finish at one under and tied for 72nd.

Justin Thomas retained his lead at the Zozo Championship as Jon Rahm surged into contention on Saturday.

After back-to-back 65s at Sherwood Country Club in California, Thomas carded a five-under 67 in the third round.

The American mixed six birdies with just one bogey to get to 19 under and retain his one-stroke lead.

Thomas, a 13-time winner on the PGA Tour, is set for a final-round battle with Rahm.

Rahm charged into outright second thanks to a nine-under 63.

The Spanish world number two capitalised on a fast start, making a 17-footer for eagle at the par-five second hole.

Rahm went bogey-free in his round, which also included seven birdies, to be in contention for a sixth PGA Tour victory.

Of his previous five wins, two have come in the state of California – at the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open and 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge.

Lanto Griffin continued his consistent showing with a four-under 68 that moved him into 17 under and outright third.

Sebastian Munoz (66), Ryan Palmer (66) and Patrick Cantlay (68) are a shot further back.

A group of six players – Webb Simpson (67), Brian Harman (67), Matt Fitzpatrick (67), Bubba Watson (68), Scottie Scheffler (69) and Dylan Frittelli (70) – are at 15 under.

After bouncing back in the second round, Tiger Woods battled in the third, the 15-time major winner and defending champion shooting a 71 to be back at three under.

Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, continued to climb the leaderboard, a 67 lifting him into nine under and a tie for 36th.

Sebastian Munoz set the early pace at the Zozo Championship after earning a one-stroke lead in the opening round, while defending champion Tiger Woods struggled on his return to the PGA Tour.

Colombian golfer Munoz carded an eight-under-par 64 to top the leaderboard in Thousand Oaks, where the tournament is taking place after being relocated from Japan due to the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions.

Munoz – eyeing his second Tour title – holed two eagles, eight birdies, a double bogey and two bogeys at Sherwood Country Club.

The 27-year-old recorded his second eagle of the day on the par-five 16th, holing out from 51 yards to mark the third instance in his Tour career with two eagles in a single round.

England's Tyrrell Hatton and American star Justin Thomas – who ended the day eagle-birdie-birdie – are a shot off the pace heading into Friday's second round, while Brian Harman, Lanto Griffin, Kevin Kisner, Harris English and Dylan Frittelli are stroke further back at six under.

World number two Jon Rahm and Jason Day were among the players to post first-round 68s in a field missing top-ranked golfer Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott due to positive coronavirus cases.

After claiming his maiden Tour title via last week's CJ Cup at Shadow Creek, Jason Kokrak shot a three-under-par 69 to be tied for 26th alongside the likes of Xander Schauffele and Matthew Wolff.

Searching for his first victory since 2017, former world number one Jordan Spieth opened with a 70, just like 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed.

Rory McIlroy – a four-time major champion – recorded a one-over-par 73, a shot worse off than Phil Mickelson.

As for Woods, his title defence and bid for a record-breaking 83rd Tour crown started with a forgettable four-over-par 76 that left him 12 strokes behind Munoz.

Making just his eighth start of 2020 and playing for the first time since missing the U.S. Open cut ahead of next month's Masters defence, Woods played three par-five holes over par in the same round for the first time in his illustrious career.

Woods carded a three-over 39 on the back nine, which included a double bogey and two bogeys to go with a solitary birdie.

Tyrrell Hatton holds a one-stroke lead following the opening round of The CJ Cup at Shadow Creek, where the likes of Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth ended the day over par.

The PGA Tour tournament is taking place in Las Vegas after being moved from South Korea because of travel restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, with world number one Dustin Johnson absent due to his positive COVID-19 test.

On the course, Englishman Hatton – who claimed last week's BMW PGA Championship via the European Tour – set the early pace with a seven-under-par 65 at Shadow Creek Golf Course on Thursday.

Looking to add to his sole PGA Tour victory after winning this year's Arnold Palmer Invitational, Hatton mixed an eagle with seven birdies and two bogeys.

It is Hatton's first career 18-hole lead on the PGA Tour as the 29-year-old tops the leaderboard ahead of Russell Henley and Xander Schauffele, having tied his career low nine-hole score by shooting a 30 on the back nine.

Spanish star Jon Rahm and Tyler Duncan are two strokes off the pace heading into the second round, a shot clear of Joel Dahmen, Ryan Palmer and Kevin Streelman.

Former world number one Jason Day posted a 70 to be two under – a stroke better off than Sergio Garcia.

Justin Thomas opened his title defence with a 72 after the two-time CJ Cup champion double bogeyed his final hole of the round.

Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy – playing for the first time since finishing tied for eighth at the U.S. Open – struggled on day one.

McIlroy bogeyed his final three holes as he signed for a one-over-par 73, while Koepka and Spieth did not fare much better ahead of next month's rescheduled Masters.

Returning following a two-month injury layoff due to hip and knee issues after missing the FedEx Cup playoffs and U.S. Open, Koepka had three birdies, a double bogey and three bogeys on a mixed day.

Out of form and without a title since capturing the 2017 Open Championship, Spieth experienced a similar round with four birdies, a triple bogey and three bogeys.

Patrick Reed is the man to beat at the halfway mark of the U.S. Open after earning a one-shot lead in his pursuit of a second major title, while Tiger Woods was among the big names who failed to qualify for the weekend.

Reed – the 2018 Masters champion – carded an even-par-70 to move top of the leaderboard through two rounds in tricky conditions at Winged Foot Golf Club on Friday.

American golfer Reed was a stroke behind overnight leader and countryman Justin Thomas heading into day two in New York, where the rescheduled major is taking place behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Reed, who made a memorable hole-in-one in the opening round, replaced Thomas atop the standings thanks to a mixed day, which included five birdies and as many bogeys.

A controversial figure on the PGA Tour following accusations of cheating during last year's Hero World Challenge, Reed started on the back nine and birdied his second hole but had three bogeys in a five-hole stretch – that also included another birdie – approaching the turn.

Reed tallied two birdies and two bogeys before closing his round with a birdie at the last to end the day four under and ahead of surging American Bryson DeChambeau (68), who improved 12 positions.

Rafa Cabrera Bello (70), Harris English (70) and former world number one Thomas (73) are tied for third and two shots off the pace heading into Saturday's third round.

Thomas set the record for the lowest score posted in a U.S. Open at Winged Foot with a first-round 65, but he was unable to repeat the feat on a tough day.

Jon Rahm (72) closed the round one over through 36 holes, while world number one and FedEx Cup champion Dustin Johnson (70) is two strokes worse off following back-to-back rounds in the 70s.

Johnson – the 2016 winner – is three over alongside four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, who endured a forgettable round following a six-over-par 76.

In contention after round one, Northern Irish star McIlroy – seeking his first major trophy since 2014 – fell 17 positions on the back of a double bogey, seven bogeys and just three birdies.

As for Woods, he missed the cut and the 15-time major winner was not alone as defending champion Gary Woodland (74), Jordan Spieth (81) and Phil Mickelson (74) also fell short of the six-over line.

Three-time U.S. Open champion Woods finished with a score of 10 over after shooting a second-round 77, which included two double bogeys and five bogeys.

It was a horrible day for 2015 champion Spieth, whose woes continued as he bowed out at 14 over after going through the second round without a birdie, instead holding a double bogey and nine bogeys.

Justin Thomas set the early pace at the U.S. Open, where a record-breaking five-under-par 65 gave the former world number one a one-shot lead following the opening round.

Three straight birdies from the ninth and another at the last helped take Thomas to the top of the leaderboard with the lowest score recorded in a U.S. Open at Winged Foot, surpassing the previous low of 66.

Thomas – the 2017 US PGA Championship winner – ended the first day ahead of Patrick Reed, Thomas Pieters and Matthew Wolff in New York on Thursday.

A course usually renowned for its thick rough and brutal greens, Winged Foot's West Course was surprisingly forgiving for the start of the rescheduled 120th U.S. Open amid the coronavirus pandemic, hence some of the low scores and the fact Thomas reached 14 of the 18 greens in regulation.

Former Masters champion Reed will hope to remain in contention heading into the weekend after ending day one just a shot back – the American's 66 helped by a hole-in-one at the par-three seventh, the ball taking just one bounce before sinking.

Reed was not the only player to ace the seventh, however. Will Zalatoris repeated the feat later, with Wolff also coming agonisingly close in a remarkable series of events.

Despite the disappointment of missing out on that ace, Wolff impressed and dragged himself into the frame with a run of three successive birdies after beginning the back nine with a bogey.

Pieters is right there on Thomas' tail as well thanks to his round of 66 – a best ever opening score in a major for the Belgian, who closed out the day with a birdie that moved him above Rory McIlroy on three under.

Four-time major champion and 2011 U.S. Open winner McIlroy, who has not added to his haul of majors since 2014, had four birdies and a solitary bogey in a promising start, while Jon Rahm opened with a 69.

But it was a day to forget for some of the big hitters, who will now require strong second rounds.

Defending champion Gary Woodland is at four over, a shot worse off than world number one and FedEx Cup winner Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods, with the latter – a three-time U.S. Open champion – finishing with a bogey and double bogey on the last two holes.

After a front-nine one-under-par 34, American golfer Woodland played the back nine in five over for an opening-round 74.

It was a miserable start for five-time major champion Phil Mickelson, who will enter the second round nine over – while US PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa was three shots better off.

The 2020 U.S. Open tees off at Winged Foot on Thursday, but who will have their hands on the trophy come Sunday?

It has been 14 years since this notoriously tricky course last hosted the tournament, when Geoff Ogilvy was the surprise winner.

A score of five over got the job done for the Australian and the suggestion this year is that another over-par tally could clinch it.

With likely contender Brooks Koepka absent, we have taken a look at who should be in the mix...


PUT DUSTIN'S NAME ON THE TROPHY – Russell Greaves

I'm not going to win any awards for bravery with this choice, but world number one Dustin Johnson is impossible to ignore right now. He claimed his first FedExCup triumph this month following two wins in the Playoffs and is long overdue a second major success. The one to his name came at this event in 2016 and his game is in an even better place now than it was then, with his putter running red hot. This guy just needs to keep doing what he's been doing, and victory will be his.

RAHM HAS FORM TO TAKE MAIDEN MAJOR – Chris Myson

"I know I can do it," said Jon Rahm at his pre-tournament media conference and it is not difficult to see why he is rated as second favourite to triumph. While he is yet to claim major glory, the Spaniard recorded his best performance with a tie for third in this event last year. Thirteenth at the US PGA displayed further major form, while wins at the Memorial Tournament and BMW Championship since the PGA Tour's return came on difficult courses that should serve him well at Winged Foot, an infamously challenging venue. Rahm's time may have come.

IT'S RYDER CUP STAR FLEETWOOD'S TIME TO SHINE – Dominic Farrell

Eyebrows were raised when Tommy Fleetwood opted to play at the Portugal Masters rather than heading to the United States for his final preparations for the second major of the year. But as the Englishman birdied three of the last four holes for a final round 64 and an eventual share of third, it suddenly looked an inspired decision. Fleetwood loves the U.S. Open and, after a quiet year – even by the standards of 2020 – there were encouraging signs a game suited to the tournament's famously tough set-up is in good order. The Ryder Cup star came fourth at Erin Hills in 2017 and second at Shinnecock Hills a year later, underlining his pedigree.

SCHAUFFELE'S TIME HAS COME – John Skilbeck

This comes not from the heart but the head: Xander Schauffele is due a major. Two seconds and a third in the last seven majors point to that, and he would relish a dogfight at Winged Foot. As Schauffele said after racking up another top-10 finish at the US PGA: "I'm definitely a grinder type. I don't mind making good bogeys and stuff like that. The harder it is, the better it is for me." The winning score when the 2006 US Open came to Winged Foot was Geoff Ogilvy's five over par, yet Davis Love III took the 1997 US PGA on the same course with an 11-under total, so it is tricky to judge how low the winner must go this time. Schauffele's joint-second place at the Tour Championship confirmed his game is in an excellent place.

SIMPSON A STRONG BET FOR SECOND TITLE – Nicholas McGee

A winner of this tournament at Olympic Club in 2012, Webb Simpson enjoyed a stellar 2020 that has featured six top-10s including two wins and just a pair of missed cuts. The world number six also has a game that should see him rise to the stern challenge Winged Foot's narrow fairways and heavy rough are sure to provide. Simpson was 18th in driving accuracy during the 2020 season, hitting 67.31 per cent of fairways. His form has flown under the radar compared to that of Dustin Johnson, but don't be surprised if Simpson is a two-time champion come Sunday.

RORY'S THE DADDY – Peter Hanson

It's fair to say Rory McIlroy's form has not yet hit the same heights he reached prior to golf's hiatus as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. But there were encouraging signs with a tie for 12th at the BMW Championship, a tournament which preceded McIlroy becoming a father for the first time to Poppy Kennedy McIlroy. The Northern Irishman then proceeded to claim a first top-10 finish since golf's lockdown was lifted with a tie for seventh at the Tour Championship. A relaxed, if perhaps a little sleep-deprived, McIlroy is a danger for the rest of the field. It's not a particularly brave choice, but major number five is achievable for McIlroy this weekend.

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