Professional golfers Daniel Chopra, 46, of Sweden and Anthony Kang, 47, of South Korea will co-host the 2020 United States Open Championship with former professional cricketer Jason de la Peña, 47, of England live on FOX Sports 2 from September 18-21, 2020. In the Philippines, it will be available on Cignal‘s channel 265 and SkyCable channel 32 (SD) and channel 254 (HD).
On September 15, 2020, I had the opportunity to interview Chopra, Kang and de la Peña via Zoom. The three shared their thoughts and predictions on the upcoming golf tournament.
“I’m not a nasty person but I am absolutely thrilled by this golf course,” de la Peña told me. “It’s brutal. It’s nasty.”
The 120th U.S. Open will take place at the Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York, United States from September 17-20, 2020. The last time the U.S. Open was held there was in 2006 when Geoff Ogilvy, 43, of Australia won with a score of 5 over par.
“We’ve got another huge event on TV and I think that it’s gonna be thrilling,” de la Peña said. “It’s just gonna be amazing. I can’t wait and see.”
Due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the 144-player field consists entirely of exempt players. Chopra commented, “If you look at the record for the past 30 years, all the winners have been inside the top 100 of the golf world ranking.”
Asian golfers, comebacks and amateurs
“What are your thoughts on the current crop of Asian talent in the US Open Championship?” I asked Kang. He replied, “I think not only with the Asians in the US Open but I think as time progresses, there are more Asian crop, Asian talents coming out.”
Kang noted that in the 2020 U.S. Open, there is good representation from established Asian names such as Hideki Matsuyama, 28, of Japan and from younger Asian players such as South Korea’s Im Sung Jae, 22, and Kim Si Woo, 25.
“Unfortunately, right now, there isn’t really a dominant Asian player,” Kang commented. “But eventually as a pool of Asian players get bigger, then yeah, the number starts to shift towards (a place) where the more nationalities, more Asian nationalities you have in the field, the higher the chances of wonderful guys coming through so I think we’re moving to the correct process.”
Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods, 44, of the U.S., one of the greatest golfers of all time is of Asian descent. His father Earl Woods is African-American, Native American and Chinese while his mother Kutilda “Tilda” Punsawad Woods is Thai, Chinese and Dutch.
For Chopra, Tiger is one of the most impressive players who have made noteworthy comebacks. Chopra noted that most people thought Tiger “probably would never even play the game of golf ever again considering his surgery to his back, which anybody who’s played the game of golf knows that once you start messing around with the spine, you probably won’t be the same as you were before.”
“He came back and has won since and you know,” Chopra said of Tiger. “But that does not necessarily mean that I think that he is going to contend this week. Other than this, it is impressive what he has done to get his body back.
When asked about the promising amateurs, de la Peña mentioned Lukas Michel, 25, of Australia. The amateurs Chopra and Kang are most excited about are Takumi Kanaya, 21, of Japan and Chun An Yu, 21, of Taiwan, respectively.
2020 U.S. Open predictions
When asked about his 2020 U.S. Open predictions, de la Peña mentioned Jon Rahm, 25, of Spain as well as Dustin “DJ” Johnson, 36, and Harris English, 31, both from the U.S. Kang agreed and added Phil “Lefty” Mickelson, 50, of the U.S.
Johnson was the U.S. Open champion in 2016. Brooks Koepka, 30, of the U.S. won the tournament in 2017 and in 2018 and Gary Woodland, 36, of the U.S. was the champion in 2019.
Kang is “fairly confident” that the top players in the world are “gonna be right there till the end.” However, “the scenario” that he would like to see happen is a success story for Mickelson.
“What a great story of redemption,” Kang said. He added that Mickelson has “one of the best careers on the PGA Tour and world golf for that matter and he had gone to so many disappointments especially at this US Open.”
“If he wins this, he would go down as one of the six players to win all four major championships at the age of 50,” Kang said of Mickelson. “He has his hands on it in 2006 when he made double bogey on the final hole and I think that would be a fairytale ending. I think that will be a legendary ending. I’d like to see that happen. (There is a) very small chance that it will happen but I hope it does.”
Both Kang and Chopra also mentioned Bryson DeChambeau, 27, of the U.S. Chopra said, “I think that Bryson does have the advantage being that the golf course in the U.S. Open is that long. (There is) not a lot of trees.”
“There are some but if he misses in the correct side of the fairway, I think he may just be long enough to be able to get a wedge on the ball,” Chopra said of DeChambeau. “Whether or not he will be able to control that wedge to get the ball even remotely close to the hole, it still remains to be seen but he’s the one guy that can actually do that. I don’t think anybody else, maybe Dustin Johnson can do that. Jon Rahm, I don’t think he has the temperament for U.S. Open. He might just come good this week.”
“He is ranked number 7 in the world right now,” Chopra said of Schauffele. “He would be my pick of the most all-around complete player.”
“And then we have from Mexico, Abraham Ancer, who is number 23 in the world, one of the most consistent ball-strikers,” Chopra continued. “He’s just one of those guys that doesn’t get in very far but he’s not gonna miss fairways. He lands in the fairway. He’s not gonna miss the green.”
“And then we have Sung Jae Im from Korea that I believe has the all-around game,” Chopra added. “And he got the temperament to be so calm, you know, and just be able to take the adversity on the chin when it’s gonna happen, which it will happen in the U.S. Open.”