The U.S. Open is returning to Winged Foot, the New York club with a history of clutch moments and one unforgettable collapse.
The U.S. Golf Association will announce Monday that the West Course at Winged Foot will host the 2020 U.S. Open. This will be the club’s sixth U.S. Open, and only two other courses -- Oakmont and Baltusrol -- will have held the national championship more times. Winged Foot also hosted the 1997 PGA Championship, won in dramatic fashion by Davis Love III.
"Winged Foot offers a spectacular setting in a dynamic market, and has justifiably earned its reputation as one of the premier U.S. Open venues in the nation," said Thomas O'Toole Jr., vice president of the USGA and head of its championship committee. "And it joins an impressive lineup of future U.S. Open Championship locations that players and fans alike can eagerly anticipate."
Winged Foot was designed by A.W. Tillinghast in 1923 and hosted its first U.S. Open six years later, when amateur Bobby Jones delivered one of the biggest shots in championship history with a 12-foot putt on the final hole to force a 36-hole playoff. He won the next day by 23 shots over Al Espinosa.
The most recent trip to Winged Foot was memorable for all the wrong reasons -- not for Geoff Ogilvy winning with a superb up-and-down from below the 18th green, but for Phil Mickelson blowing his best chance ever to win the U.S. Open.
Mickelson had a one-shot lead when his drive bounced off corporate tents to the left of the 18th fairway. He went for the green and his 3-iron struck a tree and dropped straight down, his next shot plugged in a bunker and he make double bogey to lose by one. "I am such an idiot," he famously said that day.
Mickelson referenced that moment just five days ago when discussing his mistake to go public with being unhappy about how much he days in taxes.
Winged Foot also is where former USGA President Sandy Tatum offered the defining comment for the U.S. Open. "Our intention is not to embarrass the greatest players in the world, but to identify them," he said in 1974, when Hale Irwin won at 7-over 287.
Billy Casper won his first U.S. Open at Winged Foot in 1959. Fuzzy Zoeller won in 1984 in a playoff over Greg Norman, who holed a long putt across the 18th green for par. Zoeller, thinking the Shark had made birdie, jokingly waved a white towel. It only got Norman into a Monday playoff, and the next day, Zoeller won so handily that Norman waved a white towel walking up the final fairway.
Winged Foot doesn't have a history of dull moments.
The Westchester course is known for the severe slopes on the greens and deep bunkers and doglegs along the tree-lined fairways. USGA executive director Mike Davis was in charge of setting up the Open for the first time at Winged Foot in 2006. He referred to Winged Foot as a "quintessential U.S. Open golf course."
"Winged Foot offers the best players in the world a spectacular test of golf and delivers to spirited New York golf fans one of the most exciting venues in the game," he said.
The U.S. Open returns this year to Merion, and then will go to Pinehurst No. 2 (2014), Chambers Bay (2015), Oakmont (2016), Erin Hills (2017), Shinnecock Hills (2018), Pebble Beach (2019) and then Winged Foot.
"I think it's great," Ogilvy said about the return to Winged Foot. "I'm excited for the club. It's one of the best clubs in America for that sort of thing. It's a true golf club in the original sense. They love playing golf. The courses are super busy. You meet Winged Foot members everywhere and they can't say enough about it. And it's got such a great history, really."