Virtual U.S. Open: Palmer, Boros and other challengers

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Arnold Palmer and Julius Boros are among 14 champions who could surprise in our Virtual U.S. Open tournament.

The field of contenders for the 2020 virtual U.S. Open is sufficiently deep that as many as two dozen players stand at least a plausible chance of winning. After all, there have been a lot of great national champions since the tournament came into being in 1895.

Beyond the 11 favorites whose profiles were outlined yesterday, at least 14 others could seriously contend. Between 1902 and 2018, those 14 have accounted for 19 championships. Their ranks are populated by some of the game’s immortals: Palmer, Player, and Watson among them.

At the very top of the list of second-tier candidates, though, is a name rarely thought of when golf immortality is measured. Julius Boros was a trained accountant, not a product of a golf academy, who approached the game with the faculties an accounting background brings.

Walking to the ball, Boros’ gait was deliberate to the point of indifference. During that walk up, it was as if he was calculating in his mind the various ramifications of each aspect of the shot. Once over the ball, though, Boros was both precise and decisive, never spending more than a second or two in his setup.

That pre-set approach led Boros to a pair of U.S. Open titles, at Northwood in Dallas. Eleven years later, Boros beat Arnold Palmer and Jackie Cupit in a playoff for the 1963 title at the Country Club in Brookline.

Between 1951 and 1960 – the peak of his Open performance – Boros was seven times among the top 10, finishing third in 1958 and 1960. Never in that period was he outside the top 25, and it is his consistency at peak level that accounts for the -1.24 average standard deviation of his peak Open performance. That’s outside the best 11, but only barely.

Here are profiles of the other 13 in the second tier of serious contenders.

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