A total of 16 golfers with ties to Georgia will be among the 144 players competing in this week’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot in the suburbs of New York City.
The group of Georgians includes three major champions, two former U.S Open runners-up, a top-10 finisher in the championship last year, two relatively unknown players who have won on the PGA Tour in the past 13 months, three qualifiers for the 2020 Tour Championship in addition to one of the major champions and two others who competed at East Lake in 2019. There are also two amateurs representing the state’s most prominent college golf teams and one of 10 players in the field from the Korn Ferry Tour.
Here’s a look at all 16:
Patrick Reed (Augusta State): Reed won the 2018 Masters, part of a three-major stretch in which he tied for second in the 2017 PGA and placed fourth in the ’18 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. He scored his eighth victory of his 8-year PGA Tour career earlier this year in the WGC event in Mexico, and has won on a U.S. Open course in metropolitan New York, capturing a Playoffs event at Bethpage Black in 2016. He has qualified for the Tour Championship each of the past seven seasons and finished in the top 10 of the final standings in 2019-20. Owns one of the best short games on Tour, but can he hit enough fairways and greens to solve Winged Foot’s punishing test?
Bubba Watson (UGA): He tied for seventh in his second U.S. Open start in 2007 at Oakmont, but hasn’t cracked the top 30 in the past decade. Watson has two Masters titles among his 12 career victories, but hasn’t won in more than two years and did not play especially well after the Tour resumed in June before notching a pair of top-20s in his two Playoffs starts. His length off the tee may not compensate for his inaccuracy and shaky short game.
Zach Johnson (St. Simons Island resident): Returned to the top 125 after the poorest season of his 14-year career in 2019, needing a pair of late strong showings to avoid missing the Playoffs for a second straight time. Includes a Masters and 2015 British Open among his 12 Tour victories, but has just one career top 10 in the U.S. Open, tying for eighth at Oakmont in ’16. Will be making his 17thstraight start in the championship, missing the cut at Winged Foot in ’06. Lack of distance off the tee won’t help this week, and neither will a balky short game.
Michael Thompson (St. Simons): Tied for second, just one shot behind Webb Simpson at Olympic Club in 2012, but has not qualified for the event since ’13. Scored the second victory in 10-year career this Summer in Minnesota, finishing in the top 100 in the FedExCup standings for just the fourth time, but did not play especially well apart from his win. Hits a lot of fairways and is a quality putter, but the rest of his game is a little suspect.
Brian Harman (Savannah native/UGA/St. Simons): Tied for second three years ago at Erin Hills behind Brooks Koepka. Began 2019-20 season with a T3 at the Greenbrier, but did not enjoy much success after play resumed until back-to-back finishes of 11thand 12thin the first two Playoffs events that almost got him into the Tour Championship but did qualify him for Winged Foot. Accuracy off the tee and solid play around the greens make him a potential dark horse threat this week.
Brendon Todd (UGA/Watkinsville resident): Revived his career for a second time with two wins last Fall and continued quality play in 2020, contending in both the PGA and Playoffs event in Chicago. Was inside the top 10 in the FedExCup standings coming into East Lake. Best finish in three U.S. Open starts is a T17 at Pinehurst in ’14, and accuracy off the tee (4thin fairways hit) and excellent putting (20thin Stokes Gained) should serve him well at Winged Foot.
Harris English (Moultrie native/UGA/St. Simons): Bounced back in a big way after three straight sub-standard seasons. In 20 starts, posted 14 top-25 finishes, beginning the season last Fall with four showings of sixth or better in his first five starts, and placed second in the Playoffs opener in Boston. Has made the cut in all four U.S. Open starts, but best finish is T37. Considering the quality of his play this year and his excellent stats across the board, is a good bet to better that at Winged Foot.
Kevin Kisner (UGA): Qualified for the Tour Championship for the fifth time in six seasons on the strength of a pair of recent third place finishes in Detroit and Greensboro and a T4 in the Playoffs opener in Boston. A 3-time winner on Tour including the 2019 Match Play, Kisner has challenged for victories in majors the past few years, but his only decent finish in the U.S. Open is a T12 at Oakmont in ’16. One of golf’s better putters and has solid tee-to-green game, but struggles with his short game is not the recipe for success at Winged Foot.
J.T. Poston (St. Simons): Captured his first Tour title last summer in Greensboro in 2018-19 regular season finale, and followed with a respectable showing in 2019-20, with his best finishes coming right after play resumed in June. Missed the cut in only U.S. Open start at Erin Hills in ’17, but with top 50 rank in accuracy and top 15 in putting, could do better this time if he can hit more greens.
Richy Werenski (Georgia Tech): Won for the first time in four seasons at Lake Tahoe, and added a pair of ties for third, most recently in Minnesota. Missed the cut two years ago at Shinnecock, and will look to rely on quality play around the greens to offset some less than stellar tee-to-green stats.
Chesson Hadley(Georgia Tech): Tied for ninth at Pebble Beach last year after missing the cut in first U.S. Open start the previous year. Won as a rookie in 2014 and had three top-3 finishes in 2018 and ’19 before dropping outside the top 125 this past season. Had a top-15 finish in the 2020-21 opener last week in Napa, where accuracy is also a primary asset. Was 22ndin fairways hit and 20thin GIR this past season, but was outside the top 120 in putting.
Matt Kuchar (Georgia Tech/St. Simons): Had his second disappointing season in the last three after qualifying for the Tour Championship nine times in the previous 10 years. A tie for second in Los Angeles was his only top 10 on the season, and has been absent from leader boards entirely since June, Has a solid U.S. Open record, placing 16thor better four of the last six years with his best career finish a tie for sixth at Pebble Beach in 2010. Was sixth on the Tour this past season in putting and 27thin fairways hit, but struggled with his approach play, finishing outside the top 150 in GIR.
Charles Howell (Augusta native): Followed up his best season in several years in 2018-19 with a so-so showing in 2019-20. A tie for third in Minnesota was his only post-Covid delay top-40 finish, which included two unproductive Playoffs starts. Has been a quality player for two decades, but not in majors, with a tie for 10thin the 2003 PGA his only career top 10. Best U.S. Open showing was a T18 in 2002 and he is 8 of 11 in made cuts, including a T37 at Winged Foot in ’06. Usually solid tee-to-green game slipped a bit this past season, not a good sign heading into Winged Foot.
Greyson Sigg (Augusta native/UGA/St. Simons): Earned one of five spots available from the Korn Ferry regular season, placing second in the KF Tour Championship to finish the season fifth on the points list. One of the tour’s best all-around players, he enjoyed an outstanding rookie year after three successful seasons in Canada. Has made just two PGA Tour starts, both coming in the RSM Classic at Sea Island GC, where he made the cut in 2017.
Andy Ogletree (Georgia Tech): Won the 2019 U.S. Amateur t Pinehurst, rallying from a 4-hole deficit in the 36-hole finals. Also was part of a winning U.S. Walker Cup team that year. Was a two-time second team All-American at Georgia Tech, graduating earlier this year.
Davis Thompson (UGA/St. Simons resident): Earned his spot in the field with a No. 4 ranking among world amateurs. Has played three seasons in Athens and was selected a first team All-American in the shortened 2019-20 season. Has two collegiate victories, including the 2019 NCAA Regionals played in Athens, and also competed in last year’s RSM Classic at Sea Island GC, tying for 23rd. Won the Jones Cup, a top amateur event played at Ocean Forest earlier this year.