U.S. Open 2020 Picks, Sleepers and Best Outsiders for Winged Foot This Week

Predicting the winner of a golf major is becoming an increasingly difficult exercise. Brooks Koepka may have won four of the last 12 majors, but the last three have gone to a first-time winner.

Looking further back, 72 percent of the last 18 majors have gone to a player who had never tasted success before.

With that in mind, here's a selection of outsiders and dark horses to keep an eye out for when the U.S. Open gets underway at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York, on Thursday.

Patrick Reed

The 2018 Masters winner has three top-15 finishes in his six starts, which included a 13th-placed finish at the PGA Championship and an eighth-placed finish at the Tour Championship two weeks ago. The Texan finished fourth in difficult conditions at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, New York, two years ago and has previously fared well in events held on courses designed by A.W. Tillinghast, the man behind the West Course at Winged Foot. Reed won the Northern Trust at Bethpage Black, New York, in 2016 and has ninth- and 13th-place finishes at Baltusrol Golf Club and Ridgewood Country Club respectively.

Reed ranked first in scrambling and driving accuracy at the Tour Championship and both aspects of his game could be crucial on a course as demanding as Winged Foot, where he arrives as a 28/1 and 34/1 shot with FanDuel and DraftKings.

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Jason Day

A 38/1 outsider with FanDuel, Day finished 64th in his last start at the BMW Championship and missed the cut at the previous event, The Northern Trust. There are, however, a few reasons to back the Australian to come back into form this week. First and foremost, the former world No. 1 recorded four consecutive top-seven finishes earlier this summer, which included a fourth-place finish at the PGA Championship in August.

Like Reed, Day has affinity with courses designed by A.W. Tillinghast, finishing second at both Baltusrol Golf Club and Ridgewood and fourth at Bethpage in his career and has finished inside the top-10 of five of his nine U.S. Open appearances.

Jason Day, PGA Tour
Jason Day plays his shot from the seventh tee during the first round of the BMW Championship on the North Course at Olympia Fields Country Club on August 27 in Olympia Fields, Illinois. Andy Lyons/Getty

Phil Mickelson

In 2006, Mickelson was within touching distance of a first U.S. Open title at Winged Foot, only to double-bogey the 18th on the Sunday and finish tied second behind Geoff Ogilvy. The U.S. Open has remained frustratingly elusive for Leftie, who has finished second an incredible six times, and the only major missing from his trophy cabinet. A 90/1 outsider with DraftKings, Mickelson appears unlikely to complete his career Grand Slam this week after finishing in the top-10 twice and missing the cut six times in the last 12 starts.

At the same time, however, the U.S. Open has previously rewarded players who have shown consistency at the tournament over the years. Tiger Woods has won the U.S. Open three times and has a further top-six finishes, while Jim Furyk won in 2003 and has a further seven top-five finishes. Similarly, Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open in 2017 and 2018 and finished second last year. Should Mickelson finally conquer the U.S. Open, where better to do so than on a course where he let triumph slip through his fingers?

Jason Kokrak

Kokrak arrives at Winged Foot as a 140/1 long shot, but it's legitimate to wonder whether the odds are far too long for a player who has finished in the top-15 in his last three starts, capped by a sixth-place at the BMW Championship at the end of August. Traditionally not a man renowned for his short game, Kokrak has improved in this area, gaining a combined 5.22 strokes around-the-green in his last three starts.

Chez Reavie

Reavie may be a 150/1 outsider, but one worth keeping an eye on. The American has missed the cut just once in his last nine starts and has finished tied for sixth at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational last month and tied for third at the Safeway Open last week. More importantly, like Mickelson and Day, Reavie has a solid enough record at the U.S. Open to make him a potential dark horse. The 39-year-old missed the cut in 2018 but finished tied for 16th at Erin Hills in 2017 and tied for third at Pebble Beach last year, displaying a brilliant all-round game to compete on vastly different courses.

U.S. Open 2020 Picks, Sleepers and Best Outsiders for Winged Foot This Week | Sports