All the talk coming into the week was that this year’s edition of the US Open at Winged Foot was supposed to be scary…
Yeah, that didn’t happen. At All. Instead, we saw what looked like a very standard tournament, instead of what was supposed to be in the running for most difficult US Open of all-time.
Justin Thomas takes the lead after the opening round by carding a 65 to sit by himself at -5. Alongside him were 20 other players that shot in the 60’s, to finish under par.
That might not seem like a lot to you. Put it in comparison to the last time the US Open was at Winged Foot in 2006. Back then, there were 12 rounds under par.
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DURING THE ENTIRE TOURNAMENT!
Yeah, that’s right. There were nine more rounds under par on opening day than there were during the entirety of the last US Open here.
After a lead-up, where plenty of pundits and media members, bloggers and writers (myself included), thought Winged Foot was going to be insanely difficult. For good reason though. When the course superintendent says that he is shooting for a winning score of +8, you would normally believe him.
Unfortunately, there was a combination of things that made it difficult to accomplish. First is the time of year. In mid-September, you have about two hours less when it comes to playable daylight. This leads to earlier tee times, and fewer people playing in the later afternoon. Also, it’s just not as dry, meaning the course isn’t as hazardous as it would normally be. Maybe the golf gods are building false hope, as there wasn’t much wind today either.
It sounds as if the rough is about two inches shorter than it would be in June. Pair this with easier pin locations because of less daylight, and you have a much easier course. There was apparently a meeting between the course super and the USGA before the tourney started, and he was livid with the setup. With the lack of light and field of 144, there isn’t much you can do. You almost have to set the course simpler so that people can finish in time.
You may have wanted to see players out there struggle, looking as mortal as the rest of us… I know I sure did. What we never want to see at a major is players having to finish their first round on day two, which then increases the possibility of it happening again, making for a weird moment Saturday morning when there are people playing who already know that they won’t be making the cut… for golf that is going to be played on that same day.
There is a bright spot for all of us looking to see the pros face a difficult track. Rumor has it that once the cut is made, the course is gonna get mean. Tougher placements, setups, and locations. Greens will likely be sped up a bit. They wanted a 13 on the stimp, but it didn’t reach that and was instead in the 11-12 range. With false fronts, run-off locations, crazy hills and bumps on the greens, and the wind picking up, we could be in for some hilarity and bewilderment as pros putt this weekend.
To all of us that are fans of golf, regardless of the setup, it was great to see them out there playing in another major. Let’s hope the conditions get a little tougher, and we see some players hop on the struggle bus amidst a wild round two on Friday at the US Open.