Tough rough: US Open conditions can rob drama from a major

Yolanda Curtis
June 13, 2017

Avoiding hazards, including thick patches of fescue rough that drives must carry, will be essential.

"Chambers Bay, you had big mounds to play off onto the greens", said Spieth, who is at Chambers Bay two months after capturing his first major title at the Masters. This is the first year the USGA has allowed alternates to play practice rounds. Each of the past eight U.S. Opens (every one since Tiger Woods in 2008) has been won by someone who never had won a U.S. Open before.

Although 47-year-old Mickelson is skipping the event for the first time since 1993 to be with daughter Amanda as she graduates from high school, Scott says there is a good reason why has set an example of consistency.

And though Erin Hills, at first glance, may look like the sort of British links course that Mickelson and Stenson tore up last summer, Stenson will be the first to tell you it most certainly isn't.

One of only six public-access courses ever to be selected to host the U.S. Open, Erin Hills will offer a comprehensive test of golf befitting this global championship - one where a combination of shotmaking, course management and a physical and mental test through four days of competition will determine who will be named champion. The field leaders in this category are Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Lucas Glover, and Hideki Matsuyama.

But how do we identify a potential victor this week at Erin Hills, a venue that has never hosted so much as a PGA Tour event, let alone a U.S. Open? You can be really creative.

As for whether Erin Hills is a true U.S. Open-style layout, red scores could indeed pop up more here.

The championship is played at a range of venues all around the country, with iconic golf courses that host the U.S. Open recognized as among the greatest in the world. It was developed specifically with the idea of hosting a U.S. Open. A U.S. Open-playing golfer at A&M named "Walker Lee?" The wide fairways won't hurt, either.

"You could fit two and a half fairways at Winged Foot into the No. 10 fairway here", Davis said. However, if you do decide to start your lineup with a cheaper option, you can afford two of the elite players without having to downgrade much elsewhere.

Although Senior has five professional victories to his credit, arguably the best golf of his career to date came back in 2011, when he won the prestigious Lytham Trophy and beat compatriot Andy Sullivan in the final of the New South Wales Matchplay in Sydney. If the championship at Erin Hills is a success, there is little doubt it will make a return visit at some point after that. Throughout the 2017 U.S. Open, fans on social media will have the chance to watch behind-the-scenes live content, including player interviews, press conferences and practice-round action on Facebook Live, Periscope and Snapchat. Although McIlroy is coming off a rib injury and will be playing with a new putter.

The USGA will look hard at the forecast and try to set up holes to dampen, not exacerbate, the effect of wind that can blow as hard as 30 miles per hour.

The greens, like the fairways, are full of slope.

"We do an extensive amount of research and evaluation as we think about the forward calendar", Francis said.

As for Chicago, USGA championship committee chairman Stu Francis recently gave a cryptic answer to a question about when the Windy City would get back in the Open "rotation". If the wind is blowing, the green can sometimes take more than three shots to reach.

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