The 116th U.S. Open at Oakmont starts today, follow it all week long on the Golf Channel and Fox Sports. Details and updates of the U.S. Open on USGA.org. Once the final putt falls at Oakmont, Erin Hills home of the 2017 U.S. Open will be on the clock. _____________________________________________________________________
It should be a special week. When the United States Golf Association (USGA) brings the U.S. Open Championship to a true and tested venue like Oakmont, there is usually another great chapter of golf history that is waiting to be written.
I would that very thing to happen again this week.
I don’t care how long they hit it these days, or the fact that these guys are good. I don’t see another 63 at Oakmont this week, based on the reports I keep hearing and defending champion Jordan Spieths comments made at media day.
Plain and simple, Oakmont has never been easy and never will be.I’m not sure if thats the Pitsburgh way, but those greens are the fastest greens I have played. I have plenty of PGA Tour courses and PGA Championship courses and other courses after they have held tournaments. Nothing compares to Oakmont period. While the pro’s are different than the 9 handicap I was when I played Oakmont, those greens are just crazy fast. Of course the joke among the membership is that, they will slow down the greens to so the professionals don’t get embarassed.
Actually they would have to, because the USGA would have a nightmare getting the players in every day before dark if they didn’t.
I played Oakmont on an 82 degree day in October, right after the event called the “Fall Swat” was played. The greens were running at 15 on the stimp. This was in 2007 right after the last U.S. Open had left town. The first putt I hit on the putting green might not have stopped yet. The first six greens I could not get the ball to the hole because I was afraid to hit it. The next six holes I got brave and ran everything past, the last six holes I finally locked in. I made three hard earned pars and was happy with my 89 on the par 71 golf course. I hiked across the bridge that runs over the Pennsylvania Turnpike, it is a really neat experience.
I made par on the 9th hole, where the back of the green runs right into the putting green. There is not better way to put it than there is a trench that run’s through the 9th green. The par 5 9th is not a super hard hole, but when I landed on the green in 4 shots, I found myself in the trench. I putted up and out of the trench and the ball went 25 feet and right into the cup for par. I got a nice ovation from several members on the putting green who were watching.
Nice long putts made by the professionals should get a great ovation this week as well. If Mike Davis and his team wish to set up the golf course so that nobody breaks par, they can do that. The players this week need to avoid the church pews, that I didn’t during my round. But I still made bogey from there. The players this week can make plenty of bogeys without hitting it there.
So who wins. My pick on the air this morning is Rory McIlroy. But my sentimental pick is Phil Mickelson who with a win, will complete the career Grand Slam. But it would not suprise me that someone that most people don’t pick, actually wins. Yes the winner will have to be hot with the putter. Jim Furyk who is from Pennsylvania will go all out to win this championship. Whether his surgically repaired wrist allows him to do that is another story.
Oakmont is a course where the fariways just run and run, and that’s when the USGA is not in town. Do expect to see Fox tell you about long drives that week, that seem much further than you ever believed was possible. It’s okay, it’s Oakmont and it’s U.S. Open conditions.
If you can do yourself a favor come Thursday or Friday. Find a way to sit in front of your TV and just enjoy the golf, you will see some interesting play as the round goes on. The U.S. Open brings out some of the best and worst golf you will see played on Tv all year. Dont miss it, and then head to your course and appreciate the fact your geens are not at 13-14 or 15. Leave that for the Oakmont members to play every week.
If you haven’t played yet this year, hopefully this inspires you to do so. GO Play.