Jason Day in action at Winged Foot on Wednesday – photo Chris Keane USGA
Jason Day will start tonight’s US Open as the Australian player most likely to perform well, his record in this particular event by some way the best of the nine Australians teeing it up at Winged Foot in New York.
Day has played this event on nine occasions and since and including his remarkable debut at Congressional in 2011, when he finished runner-up to Rory McIlroy, Day has finished inside the top ten on four other occasions including when also in the runner-up position at Merion in 2013.
The debut finish in Washington behind McIlroy typified Day’s game, producing some remarkable up and downs and although he trailed the winner by eight shots it highlighted the now 32 year old’s great capacity to grind it out when the going gets tough.
Another outstanding performance by Day came at Chambers Bay in 2015 when, despite collapsing with a bout of vertigo during the second round, he was able to finish 9th behind the eventual winner that year, Jordan Spieth.
Day with his runner-up medal in 2011, can he again contend in 2020.
Day has done enough in recent starts to suggest he might again perform well. Although he struggled in his two appearances in the FedEx Cup Playoffs there was a lot to like about the way he played in earlier events when producing four consecutive finishes inside the top ten including an impressive share of 4th at the PGA Championship.
Day has always shown a capacity play the big events well and if he was to continue that trend this week then it would be no surprise.
Adam Scott will play the US Open for the 19th occasion, only Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia in this week’s field having played the event on more occasions.
Clearly that leaves Scott with plenty of experience of the USGA style set-ups but with only three top tens in those eighteen previous appearances, it is perhaps his least productive major championship.
Scott has done well enough since his lengthy break in Australia to wait out the US PGA Tour’s Covid inspired break and could play well although it is perhaps a bit much to expect him to contend.
Scott in practice this week – photo Darren Carroll USGA
Cameron Smith, like Day, produced a remarkable performance on debut at the US Open when 4th at Chambers Bay in 2015, a three wood to three feet at the 72nd hole setting up an eagle and a finish that would play a big part in gaining access to the PGA Tour.
In three starts in the event since, Smith has finished no better then 59th but while his recent form has not been outstanding it has not been poor, playing his way to the Tour Championship courtesy of a couple of solid finishes during the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Of the other Australians, Marc Leishman appears to be struggling with his game at present, while Matt Jones, Lucas Herbert, Scott Hend, Curtis Luck and Lukas Michel all get their chance to play a major, for Luck his second and for Michel his first.
Recent Korn Ferry Tour winner Curtis Luck plays his first US Open – photo USGA
Winged Foot has been the home of six previous US Opens, the first being when Bobby Jones won in 1929 and last in 2006 when Geoff Ogilvy became the second Australian to win the title, remaining the last man standing when Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie squandered late opportunities to win.
The winning score in 2006 was a massive 5 over par and indications suggest that the layout will again prove more than a handful.
Winged Foot looking a picture this week – photo Darren Carroll / USGA