We’re due a good US Open. Brooks Koepka was a worthy champion last year at Erin Hills – he tied the championship scoring record, for goodness sake – but there wasn’t much in the way of drama as he turned the back nine on Sunday into a procession. Dustin Johnson’s victory at Oakmont in 2016 was another stroll, one mainly remembered these days for rulebook farce. Jordan Spieth’s win the year before was super exciting over the closing stretch, as he seized the day while Johnson and Branden Grace stumbled, but the quirky set-up of Chambers Bay means that tournament won’t be recalled fondly by the purists. And at Pinehurst in 2014, Martin Kaymer wasted the field pretty much from the get-go. You have to go back to Merion in 2013, when Justin Rose eased his way past Phil Mickelson and made his way down 18 like Ben Hogan, for a no-quibble classic.
(Actually, on reflection, it’s daft to write off 2015 just because the course was a bit psychedelic. Spieth’s birdie on 18 was astonishing in the circumstances, bouncing back from a double on 17, while Johnson and Grace capitulated in extremely memorable fashion. Also, Louis Oosthuizen came back in 29! But I’ve written the opening paragraph of this preamble now, and there’s no going back. You get the general point.)
Will the links of Shinnecock Hills deliver? Retief Goosen won his second US Open the last time the tournament was played here, with a hot putter in 2004, though that’s not one for the memory banks either. A dry course was playing ludicrously hard, the par-three 7th particularly troublesome, with players unable to keep their tee shots on the parched Redan green (one which slopes down from front to back). No player finished under par on the final day: the average round was 78.7.
The place is in better nick this week, and the fairways have been widened since then. But for goodness sake keep those tee shots down the middle … because the rough is gloriously punitive in the time-honoured US Open style. That could be good news for Henrik Stenson, leading the driving accuracy charts right now … but not so good for Lefty, whose hopes of finally completing the career slam aren’t helped by his off-the-tee ranking of 201 out of 205. Or Tiger, whose big stick has him down in 185th place.
On the flip side, all three winners of the US Open during modern times have been older, more experienced players. Goosen was 35. So was Corey Pavin in 1995. And the legendary Ray Floyd was 43 when he won here in 1986. A good omen for Phil, Sergio Garcia, Tiger and Justin Rose, then!
Or perhaps the links course will benefit players who really like an Open Championship-style challenge? That might benefit the aforementioned Grace, who shot 62 at Birkdale last year, or Oosthuizen, Sergio, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy.
And hey, we’ve got this far without mentioning the reigning Open champion Spieth, the current PGA champ Justin Thomas, the new Masters champion Patrick Reed … and the defending Koepka, of course. There are many other obvious contenders, too, but look, we’ll be here all day. This promises to be quite a week in Southampton, NY. Do you feel a bit flushed? Yes, us too. That’ll be the golf fever running high. Emergency! Emergency! Won’t someone please call Dr Golf?
Today’s tee times, starting at hole 1 … 6.45am EDT (11.45am BST): Harold Varner III, Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Scott Piercy 6.56am (11.56am): Michael Putnam, Scott Gregory (Eng), Will Zalatoris 7.07am (12.07pm): Brendan Steele, Chesson Hadley, Harry Ellis (a) (Eng) 7.18am (12.18pm): Jhonattan Vegas (Ven), Doug Ghim (a), Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 7.29am (12.45pm): Jimmy Walker, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa), Justin Rose (Eng) 7.40am (12.40pm): Bubba Watson, Jason Day (Aus), Brooks Koepka 7.51am (12.51pm): Tyrrell Hatton (Eng), Ian Poulter (Eng), Danny Willett (Eng) 8.02am (1.02pm): Andrew Johnston (Eng), Kevin Chappell, Daniel Berger 8.13am (1.13pm): Bryson DeChambeau, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng), Matt Kuchar 8.24am (1.24pm): Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Shubhankar Sharma (Ind), Patrick Rodgers 8.35am (1.35pm): Tom Lewis (Eng), Lanto Griffin, (a) Jacob Bergeron 8.46am (1.46pm): (a) Kristoffer Reitan (Nor), (a) Luis Gagne (Crc), Cole Miller 8.57am (1.57pm): Mickey DeMorat, (a) Tyler Strafaci, Calum Hill (Sco) —12.30pm (5.30pm): Brian Gay, Sam Burns, Dean Burmester (Rsa) 12.41pm (5.41pm): (a) Chun An Yu (Tpe), Wen-chong Liang (Chn), Ryan Evans (Eng) 12.52pm (5.52pm): Russell Henley, Aaron Wise, Peter Uihlein 1.03pm (6.03pm): Luke List, Tony Finau, Gary Woodland 1.14pm (6.14pm): Sergio Garcia (Spa), Jon Rahm (Spa), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 1.25pm (6.25pm): Francesco Molinari (Ita), Tommy Fleetwood (Eng), Alex Noren (Swe) 1.36pm (6.36pm): Kyle Stanley, Cameron Smith (Aus), Pat Perez 1.47pm (6.47pm): Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods 1.58pm (6.58pm): Si Woo Kim (Kor), Haotong Li (Chn), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 2.09pm (7.09pm): Jason Dufner, (a) Braden Thornberry, Brandt Snedeker 2.20pm (7.20pm): (a) Ryan Lumsden (Sco), James Morrison (Eng), Rikuya Hoshino (Jpn) 2.31pm (7.31pm): Cameron Wilson, (a) Will Grimmer, (a) Philip Barbaree 2.42pm (7.42pm): Michael Hebert, (a) Rhett Rasmussen, Michael Block
Starting at hole 10 … 6.45am (11.45am): Sebastian Munoz (Col), Scott Stallings, Matthew Southgate (Eng) 6.56am (11.56am): Trey Mullinax, Matt Parziale (a), Jason Scrivener (Aus) 7.07am (12.07pm): David Bransdon (Aus), Eric Axley, Tyler Duncan 7.18am (12.18pm): Mackenzie Hughes (Can), (a) Garrett Rank (Can), Aaron Baddeley (Aus) 7.29am (12.45pm): Alexander Levy (Fra), Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay 7.40am (12.40pm): Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn), Paul Casey (Eng), Branden Grace (Rsa) 7.51am (12.51pm): Charl Schwartzel (Rsa), Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed 8.02am (1.02pm): Rory McIlroy (NIrl), Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson 8.13am (1.13pm): Marc Leishman (Aus), Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Rickie Fowler 8.24am (1.24pm): Charles Howell III, Bill Haas, Charley Hoffman 8.35am (1.35pm): Sungjae Im (Kor), Russell Knox (Sco), Matt Wallace (Eng) 8.46am (1.46pm): (a) Shintaro Ban, Sung-joon Park (Kor), Tim Wilkinson (Nzl) 8.57am (1.57pm): Dylan Meyer, Chris Naegel, Sulman Raza—12.30pm (5.30pm): Ryan Fox (Nzl), Matthew Jones (Aus), Shota Akiyoshi (Jpn) 12.41pm (5.41pm): Paul Waring (Eng), (a) Theo Humphrey, Ted Potter, Jr 12.52pm (5.52pm): Roberto Castro, Richy Werenski, Ollie Schniederjans 1.03pm (6.03pm): (a) Noah Goodwin, Richie Ramsay (Sco), Kenny Perry 1.14pm (6.14pm): Keegan Bradley, Xander Schauffele, Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 1.25pm (6.25pm): Lucas Glover, Webb Simpson, Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 1.36pm (6.36pm): Ernie Els (Rsa), Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk 1.47pm (6.47pm): Henrik Stenson (Swe), Adam Scott (Aus), Martin Kaymer (Ger) 1.58pm (6.58pm):Kevin Kisner, Adam Hadwin (Can), Ross Fisher (Eng) 2.09pm (7.09pm): Shane Lowry (Irl), Chez Reavie, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 2.20pm (7.20pm): Lucas Herbert (Aus), Stewart Hagestad (a), Brian Stuard 2.31pm (7.31pm): Sebastian Vazquez (Mex), (a) Franklin Huang, Michael Miller 2.42pm (7.42pm): Christopher Babcock, (a) Timothy Wiseman, David Gazzolo
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