The second Major of the golfing calendar is upon us as Winged Foot in New York plays host to the US Open. Sitting at nearly 7,500 yards in length, with treacherous rough designed to gobble up a player’s ball, this week’s layout could perhaps be the hardest test of the entire season.

We preview this week’s tournament, which gets under way on Thursday, below.

Johnson and Rahm the rightful favourites

Given Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm have dominated golf in recent weeks, it’s unsurprising that the top two in the world rankings are the favourites this week. Johnson, the new FedEx Cup champion, has played some of the best golf of his career in the past couple of months and if he can continue that form at Winged Foot, he’ll be a tough man to beat. However, he’s been under the pump for a while and there’s a suspicion he could still be slightly drained despite a full week off. As such, he looks worth taking on at 17/2.

Although DJ has been the best player on the planet recently, Rahm, the man who beat him in a play-off at the BMW Championship, might in fact be the one to beat here at 10/1. Rahm auditioned for the US Open with wins at the Memorial Tournament as well as the aforementioned BMW Championship, both of which were played at courses that weren’t too dissimilar to what the players will encounter this week. He showed at both Muirfield Village and Olympia Fields he plays well when pars are at a premium and a repeat of those performances could see him break his Major duck.

X marks the spot

Like Rahm, XANDER SCHAUFFELE is seeking his first Major title and the world number seven looks poised for a bold showing at 16/1. The American comes into this after a great week at the Tour Championship, where he shot the best 72-hole score, while he’s shown his liking for Majors in the past.

Since competing in his first one in 2017, Schauffele has played in 12 Majors and has impressively finished in the top 10 in half of them, including a tie for second at both the 2018 Open and 2019 Masters. His US Open record isn’t too shabby either with three top-sixes, and he played well at both the Memorial (tie for 13th) and the BMW Championship (tie for 25th), so he’s clearly comfortable at courses where churning out pars is a must.

Much has been spoken of about the rough at Winged Foot, with Patrick Reed claiming it was the worst he’s seen at a US Open. If true, it means you need someone who does well with the driver – and Schauffele excels in that category. The 26-year-old is eighth in strokes gained: off-the-tee for the 2020 PGA Tour season, while he ranked 15th for total driving – a statistic that has been crucial in the last two US Opens at Winged Foot.

1997 champion Davis Love and 2006 champion Geoff Ogilvy ranked in the top five for total driving as well as scrambling, and interestingly there was only one better scrambler than Schauffele last season in Daniel Berger. It’s guaranteed that players are going to miss greens this week and those who can get it up-and-down more often than not are going to be the ones competing for the trophy come Sunday.

Although he didn’t register a victory in 2019/20, Schauffele registered three second-place finishes on the PGA Tour and there’s plenty to suggest he could go one better this week as he hunts a maiden Major title.

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