U.S. Open Preview: Where, Who & What to Watch For
The U.S. Open tees off Thursday morning from The Country Club at Brookline.
It is one of the most historic golf clubs in the world and it is certainly going to be a historic week.
GolfNewsRI has been at the U.S. Open all week and to help you out, or try to anyway, we have put together a bit of a guide.
Check it out Below:
Where to Watch:
Over the last three days, I have walked the majority of the course.
A couple of observations in hopes of helping fans out.
Other than 18, the two holes to pay attention too are 11 and 17.
The short par-3 11th hole is being used in USGA play for the first time since Francis Ouimet in 1913.
The USGA said during their press conference that the hole could play close to 200 yards, and or as short as 100 yards or less.
The 17th green is one of the most historic holes in all of golf.
Francis Ouimet clinched his U.S. Open Championship on that hole, Justin Leonard clinched the Ryder Cup in 1999 with that legendary putt and Curtis Strange three-putted from 12 feet in 1988.
Something big, good or bad, is going to happen on the 17th hole this week, so could be a good place to hang out.
The first tee and the putting green are connected and the chipping green is connected to both of those. There is a grandstand behind the first tee portion of the area and other than that, it is all standing.
Getting to the driving range, from the putting green and vice versa is a bit of a trek. I’m not sure if the players walk from the range to the putting green/first tee or if they have been getting carted.
The area behind the 18th green is going to be a bit of a cluster all week, so give yourself time to get from point A to point B, especially if you are trying to catch a shuttle or something.
If you are going to 18 to stand behind the green and watch, get there early and don’t move too far. That area is going to get crowded really fast.
The fourth hole, if you are looking down the fairway from the tee box. The right side of the fourth hole ends up leading to a dead end up near the green.
You can watch the fourth green and fifth tee, but then you have to walk all the way back down four and eventually cut across the fairway to get to five. So if you are trying to follow the action hole-to-hole, save yourself steps and walk down the left side of four instead.
Hopefully, this helps a little bit.
What to Watch For:
A couple of things to watch for this week at The Country Club at Brookline.
The weather is supposed to be pretty good and the wind is expected to pick up so that means the course is going to get firmer and faster.
The rough, as you would expect, is going to be thick, but as many players have alluded to this week, it’s not totally unplayable.
It is graduated rough so if a player is just a few feet off the fairway, they should be okay. Obviously, the further off the fairway the worse it gets.
There are five blind tee shots on the course and that is not something players are used to in this day and age.
It will be interesting to see what sight lines players take throughout the week, and if those sight lines change throughout the week once players get more comfortable.
Though significantly bigger than they used to be, the greens are also smaller than what these players are used to playing so ball striking is going to be a key.
Who to Watch:
Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Scottie Scheffler are the obvious ones.
Scheffler has four wins this season, including The Masters and has one or two other near victories.
He played this course in the 2013 U.S. Amateur, so he has some familiarity with it.
Rory and Justin are coming off a duel in Canada, which was won by Rory and he told Thomas “let’s do it again next week,” meaning this week at the U.S. Open.
It would be fun if they did.
Two players that I’m looking at are Matt Fitzpatrick and Brooks Koepka.
Fitzpatrick has been in good form and he won the 2013 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club. The course has changed a little bit since then, but not that much.
Koepka has not played much lately, but in his last four U.S. Opens he has lost to a total of four people.
In his press conference, prior to things getting contentious, Koepka said he is fully healthy and ready to go.
He is also all pissed off at the media over the LIV stuff, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him go out and try to make a statement.
Speaking of LIV Golf, what happens if a LIV guy won the U.S. Open?
On paper, the only guy you would say has a chance is Dustin Johnson, but wouldn’t it be interesting if somehow Phil Mickelson got into the mix or Bryson DeChambeau?