If the world is good and right, then in a small sliver of time, mankind can luxuriate in a few brief moments as sublime as yesterday’s U. S. Open.
Any U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills is destined to be difficult. On Thursday, a howling westerly wind moved in and left the U.S. Open field in shambles. What followed for the players was a long, challenging day. For the fans? Well, it was sensational. On a breezy and beautiful day in Southampton, fans were treated to the finest U.S. Open day in recent memory.
Sure, there was carnage. As a whole, the field was +1010 over par. But it must be said: Shinnecock Hills was fair. Yes, the wind was harsh. Yes, a few of the pins were tucked. But such is life at a U.S. Open. The greens were not outrageous. Bad shots were punished, and (except for one unbelievably unfortunate Graeme McDowell bunker shot) good shots were rewarded. Afterwards, several pros - including Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth -mostly agreed. A few others scurried out without bothering to weigh in on the course.
To many, yesterday was a stark reminder of what a championship product produces. The USGA and Shinnecock Hills is a test that exposes every deficiency in a players game. Yesterday was unbelievable because of the shots from inside 150 yards, not the 400+ yard drives.
For an eloquent write-up of the day, the talented Brendan Porath captures the majesty of the U.S. Open in this very pleasing article here.
Four players sit atop the field: Dustin Johnson, Scott Piercy, Russell Henley and Ian Poulter managed to break par - each shooting 1-under 69 to lead the U.S. Open. Johnson was his usual, impressive self. Johnson will always bomb the ball off the tee. On Thursday, the breadth of his approach game sparkled. DJ is a complete player, talented along a host of dimensions, and he’s certainly the man to watch through the weekend.
Trailing the quartet at 1-under is Jason Dufner, who put on a clinic from tee to green and shot even despite an ugly day on the greens. Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson headline a group of six others at 1-over par.
Tomorrow the winds should be a little softer, and scoring should improve (I think).
The Par 3’s
Shinnecock’s par 3s were unusually savage. No hole on the course produced more bogeys than the 2nd hole - a 252-yard brute. On the plucky, 159-yard 11th hole, Jordan Spieth made triple bogey by committing the unforgivable sin of blasting his bunker shot off the back of the green. The famously controversial seventh hole was tempered relative to 2004 and scored the 9th most difficult on the day.
Big name carnage.
The big story of the day was how poor many of the big names faired. The world number one leads at 1-under and Justin Rose was solid, but here's how the rest shook out:
Justin Thomas +4 t37
Jordan Spieth +8 t101
Jon Rahm +8 t101
Rory McIlroy +10 t128
Rickie Fowler +3 t19
Jason Day +9 t114
Brooks Koepka +5 t46
Hideki Matsuyama +5 t46
Tiger Woods +8 t101
Phil Mickelson +7 t88
The cut should fall in the +9 range, so with a good round, many of the big names will have a shot at making the cut. Full scores
Besides the carnage
Shinnecock is proving to be a course that any type of player can succeed at. The Tour’s longest hitter, Dustin Johnson, leads but is also joined by one of its shortest, Ian Poulter. The variety in the different styles of play goes to the course, which will require all types of skills to succeed.
The skinny on Shinny part 3
The final part of the skinny on Shinny is on the site breaking down the architecture behind Shinnecock’s great par 3’s and a few of its par 4’s. Read more here.
A few ams in it
Luis Gagne and Will Grimmer are tied for 19th, and U.S. Mid Am Champion Matt Parziale is at +4 and 37th. Learn more about each amateur’s background.
Catch all the coverage throughout the week at our U.S. Open hub.
Walker Texas Backstopper
In a back and forth with course architect Michael Clayton, Jimmy Walker made some very interesting and damning comments on backstopping. The full thread can be found HERE. Golf Channel’s Arron Oberholser, Jim Gallagher and George Savaricas did a great job breaking down the issue as well. Their segment can be found HERE.
The truth of the matter is that this issue is impossible to prove without admittance from players. They will never admit such a thing because it would mean a disqualification for collusion. It will undoubtedly be talked about a lot in the media, but the effect of the conversation is likely to be minimal.
One way to make Shinnecock easier
The William Flynn design is causing players fits, especially those who aren’t hydrating properly. When I play tournament golf, I always carry a couple Greater Thans in my bag to stay at a hydration advantage over my opponents. The world’s first all-natural, coconut water-based sports drink has two times the electrolytes, no added sugars and comes in three delicious flavors. Use this linkto earn 20% on your first purchase, or sign up for a monthly subscription of Greater Than and get a free Fried Egg hat with your subscription. Look good, feel great.
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