GOLF FOLLOWERS CAN always gauge when the US Open is upon us because the competing professionals start to moan. This is nothing new as the late US Ryder cup player, Dave Hill, said that Hazeltine National in 1971 was missing ‘Only 80 acres of corn and a few cows to be a good farm.’
This year’s venue, Chambers Bay, on Puget Sound outside Tacoma in Washington State has been receiving even more adverse comments than usual. Things did not start too well with USGA executive director, Mike Davis, announcing, ‘There may be some [tees] where we give the players a little downhill slope, a little uphill slope, a side slope. So that’s interesting.’
All US Open courses are notorious for their difficulty but not having played it did not stop Ian Poulter ‘tweeting’ to his 1.9m followers: ‘Well several players have played Chambers Bay in prep for US Open. The reports back are its a complete farce. I guess someone has to win.’ That appears highly unlikely to be Poulter.
Texan pro, Ryan Palmer, who played Chambers Bay on his way to the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Match Play , says, ‘As far as the greens are concerned, it’s not a championship golf course, not with the way some of the greens are and the pin placements they can put out there.’
This is the first time a professional tournament has been held at Chambers Bay, although the 2010 US Amateur was held there and won by Peter Uihlein who effervesces, ‘The best thing was the amount of creativity we had to use. The concept of aiming away from the pins and using slopes to get the ball close to the hole was awesome.’ The course is probably the nearest the US Open will come to be played on a links.
In the first two stroke-play rounds of the Amateur the average score was 79.25 against par 71. Brooks Koepke, certainly worth an each-way punt this year, and Jordan Speith, who will undoubtedly be there or thereabouts come Sunday afternoon, failed to qualify, after rounds of 81 and 83 respectively.
Of the other likely home contenders Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Read and Jimmy Walker are certainly worth a flutter but another solid outside bet would be former Open winner Webb Simpson. Lastly, the West coast crowd will be cheering Phil Mickelson on to break his US Open duck, although like Arnold Palmer and the PGA, the mental scars of not winning one before may be too great.
Of the overseas players we are back to the usual suspects of Rose, Day, McIlroy and Stenson. But the top tip to follow from both your Blogger and Mystic Riddle in the secretarial office is the big-hitting German, Martin Keymer, although best not to stake your mortgage on him.