THE 2020 US Open is scheduled for Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York this week with the three month delayed second major of the year expected to be a brutal contest.
As well as the postponement the Covid-19 pandemic will mean a number of changes to the traditional open protocols, most notably an absence of the usual thronging, raucous crowds.
The field will be down to 144 players from the usual 156, with the tradition of local and sectional qualifying put on hold till hopefully better times.
Nine Australians have qualified for the US Open including major winners Jason Day and Adam Scott, our only two PGA Tour Championship final representatives Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman, Scott Hend, Lucas Herbert, Matt Jones, Curtis Luck, and amateur Lukas Michel.
Queenslander Scott Hend is one of those expecting the 120th edition of the time-honoured event to be a particularly tough one, especially due to the absence of hordes of rough trampling golf fans.
“It all depends on how the USGA set it up and I’ve heard rumours that they want a score around plus-8 to win the tournament,” Hend told the PGA of Australia ahead of his fourth US Open appearance. “That’s pretty scary when you think about that.
“I can’t say how I’m going to play the golf course until I see it and I see the weather conditions when I show up.
“I might get an early tee time on Thursday, turn up to the golf course and there’s not a breath of wind, it’s overcast and all of a sudden you play great golf, shoot 4-under. But, then again, I might get a draw in the morning turn up and it’s raining and windy.
“I need to be mentally prepared to have a bit of a tough time and may need to rely on my short game to get a few up and downs and try and make pars.
“If you watch any of these majors, any of these US Opens, sometimes par is as good as a birdie. That’s the way you’ve got to look at it.”
The 47 years old is grateful for the opportunity to again play a major championship, ironically assisted by the pandemic which made Regional and Sectional Qualifiers impossible to stage and opening the door to the USGA to grant special one-off exemptions to players from tours around the world.
Hend believes the absence of crowds will add an extra element of difficulty.
“I was talking about that to Wade Ormsby last week in the UK. I said the problem’s going to be that if you tee off Thursday afternoon, the crowd has normally trampled the rough a bit but that’s not going to be the case.
“Usually if you hit it 10 metres wide you hit it to where the crowd was and you can get a shot. Now you’re just going to be trying to look for a ball. It’s going to be brutal.
“That was the great thing about the crowds at a major. You could always tell when Tiger made a birdie; that’s a different roar and it was awesome in that way. It made the hairs stand up on your arm, listening to that sort of stuff.
“Obviously that’s not going to happen this year but at the end of the day you still get your name on the US Open trophy and you’re a major champion. Crowd or not there’s still the end goal in mind.”
The 2020 field will include:
U.S. Open champions of last 10 years
10 lowest scorers from 2019 U.S. Open
Winner of 2019 U.S. Senior Open Championship
2020 US OPEN AUSTRALIAN TV TIMES
Live on FoxSports, Kayo Sports and Golf TV (All times Australian EST.)
Round 1, Friday: 2:00am – 9:00am
Round 2, Saturday: 2:00am – 9:00am
Round 3, Sunday: 2:00am – 9:00am
Round 4, Monday:2:00am – 9:00am