DEFENDING CHAMPION: American Gary Woodland held his nerve to secure his maiden major title in 2019 at world famous Pebble Beach, the four-time PGA Tour winner’s final round 69 delivering a three shot win over two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka.

COURSE: The US Open returns to renowned Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York for the sixth time and first since 2006 when Victorian Geoff Ogilvy emerged on top after a dramatic final round.

The West Course, designed by A.W. Tillinghast and renovated by Gil Hanse in 2015, is well known as one of the toughest major championship tests, with only one US Open winner finishing under par (Fuzzy Zoeller, who defeated Greg Norman in an 18-hole playoff in 1984).

The par-70 will measure 7,477 yards this week, and while the deep rough and narrow fairways will place a premium on ball striking, the lightning fast greens featuring extreme slopes will test players' work on and around the putting surfaces.

RELATED: So-called expert golf tips for this week

PRIZEMONEY: US$12,500,000.

PLAYERS TO WATCH …

With major championship force Koepka forced to withdraw with a knee injury, the form player in world golf, Dustin Johnson, has rightfully been installed as the favourite at Winged Foot.

The 2016 winner at Oakmont is a bona fide US Open player and with his last four results reading win, 2nd, win, T2, there is no player entering with better form than the World No.1.

RIGHT: Gary Woodland holds his first major trophy at Pebble Beach in 2019.. PHOTO: Warren Little/Getty Images (RIGHT) and USGA/Jeff Haynes (TOP).

Johnson’s driving will be the first key to success this week, as power without accuracy will not serve him well, and once on the greens the reigning FedExCup champion will hope for one of his more consistent weeks with the putter to find himself in contention on Sunday.

Collin Morikawa has understandably gone a little quiet since winning his maiden major at the US PGA last month, however one would expect the American to find this event and Winged Foot very much to his liking.

The World No.5 was T35 in his US Open debut last year at Pebble Beach and is an extremely consistent and efficient driver and iron player, who showed he is up to the pressure of major championship Sundays in San Francisco.

Of the strong Aussie contingent, Adam Scott presents as one of our biggest chances, despite the Queenslander still being lightly raced when it comes to tournament golf since coronavirus halted the PGA Tour at The Players.

Scott is one of the small number in the field with US Open experience at Winged Foot having finished T21 in 2006, and if his driver behaves, the 40-year-old could find himself a chance of improving on his T7 at Pebble Beach last year. And what better place to do so than a course with a significant place in Australian golf history.

At 50, Phil Mickelson winning the US Open would be an incredible story. And although perhaps unlikely that ‘Lefty’ will secure the career Grand Slam this week, he will be worth keeping an eye on as he tackles the course that gave him his best chance to do so in his career.

Mickelson was a fairly lacklustre T44 last week in California where he only broke 70 once after winning on Champions Tour debut, but given his US Open history, it is likely Phil will play some role this week.

72-HOLE RECORD: Former World No.1 Rory McIlroy set the scoring record in 2011 at Congressional, when he needed just 268 strokes for a total of 16-under and an eight-shot win over runner-up Jason Day. Koepka equalled McIlroy’s score to par at Erin Hills in 2017.

PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Geoff Ogilvy (2006) and David Graham (1981).

AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Jason Day, Scott Hend, Lucas Herbert, Matt Jones, Marc Leishman, Curtis Luck, Lukas Michel, Adam Scott and Cameron Smith.

TV TIMES*
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 2am – 9am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 2am – 9am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 2am – 9am)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 3am – 8am)
*AEST, check local guides