115th U.S. Open Preview
The 115th United States Open is sure to be one like we have never seen before. The U.S. Open is normally a huge headache for a number of players, but Chambers Bay, located in the Pacific Northwest presents a whole different obstacle for the players.
A course that was finished in 2007, Chambers Bay features a number of elevation changes, large green undulations, and sand traps galore. Playing similarly to a British Open style course, many players have had issues with the way the USGA is setting up the course; Ryan Palmer called the course "a joke" after his Sunday practice round.
Chambers Bay will feature 4 of the longest par-4's in U.S. Open history. On certain days, unbeknown to the players, some holes will play as par 5's and others as par 4's, leaving much uncertainty for the players who have been calling practice rounds "useless" with all of the USGA changes.
"To have holes that you change the par on every day is absolutely ridiculous," said ESPN golf analyst Andy North on SportsCenter Monday afternoon.
Many have compared the course to St. Andrews or as North put it, "Shinnecock Hills on steroids."
"The thing about courses like these, you can eliminate a number of players. Normally about 75% of players are already out [when the tournament begins]," North said. "It's going to be more here."
Nonetheless, some of golf's great's have backed the USGA and have expressed their displeasure with the players complaining about the course. Jack Nicklaus especially.
"Guys would say a course doesn't suit their game," Nicklaus said, "It's not supposed to suit your game. You are supposed to suit your game to the golf course."
With that being said, nobody knows what to expect once these players tee-off on Thursday morning pacific time. Whether or not the winning score will be under par is greatly in question even though the weather looks to be pretty quiet during the week.
So how do you play this course? The course looks to be a second-shot course. Those players who have a finely tuned iron game will be the ones to watch this week as the course does not look to be difficult to drive in the fairway. Players like Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, and Jordan Speith may bee key players to watch this week with the way they have performed this season along with their steady iron play.
This course will also test the players mental capacity. Every player will get frustrated at one point or another, but the ability of the player to forget mistakes and move on to the next shot could be crucial, for one mistake could lead to many and eliminate a player in the blink of an eye. This is where experienced players like Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, and Justin Rose may thrive if put in the right position.
But with a course so unpredictable, there is a chance we could see an unexpected winner. Players like Francesco Molinari, Patrick Reed, and even former PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley may sneak up through this field.
Tiger Woods will most certainly have all eyes and cameras focused on him this week for as long as he remains in the tournament. Coming off his worst round as a pro, Woods has played practice rounds at Chambers Bay before, but says the course has changed "drastically" since his practice rounds a month ago.
"It's as if each hole is playing uphill," Woods said following his practice round on Sunday where he played the opening 9-holes.
How Woods will fare this week is unknown. The now 181st player in the world has played this course quite a bit in preparation, but as many golf analysts and players have explained, playing a few practice rounds this week will do you no good; you need to play this course a good 20 times to understand it.
Mickelson once again looks to complete the career grand slam and may have a great shot to do it at Chambers Bay. After finishing T-3 in the Fed-Ex St. Jude Classic last week, Mickelson's game looks to be clicking again, and just at the right time. There is a good chance that this could actually be the year Mickelson breaks through to win the U.S. Open.
Rory McIlroy seems to be in a prime position as far as style of play is concerned. One of the best ball strikers on tour, McIlroy's iron game has always been top notch and with his precision and accuracy with his irons, expect him to compete right away.
There are so many unknowns heading into the 115th U.S. Open, but it will sure be one for the memory bank.
"The players have no concept of what to expect," North said, "There will be bad shots that end up in good places and good shots that end up in bad places."