The First Look: U.S. Open
• COURSE: Erin Hills, 7,693 yards, par 72. Carved from dramatically rolling farmland 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, Erin Hills opened in 2006 and becomes the second new addition to the Open’s host roster in three years. The design trio of Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry and Golf Digest senior editor Ron Whitten took a minimalist approach, making use of the contours of Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine to create a prairie-style layout with almost no trees. A mix of dunes, fescue grasses and penal bunkers can make Erin Hills feel like an Irish links when the wind is up. And yet, it will enter Open annals as the event’s second-longest venue – just two yards behind Chambers Bay in 2015. Erin Hills was host of the 2011 U.S. Amateur, won by Kelly Kraft, also staging the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links. • FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 600 points. • CHARITY: The U.S. Golf Association has provided more than $67 million in grants over the past 20 years to organizations that serve golf at the grass-roots level. Among the recipients are The First Tee, LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, Special Olympics, PGA Junior League Golf and National Alliance for Accessible Golf. • FIELD WATCH: World No.1 Dustin Johnson, whose Oakmont breakthrough last year was the first of six wins in the past 52 weeks, is joined by 2015 winner Jordan Spieth and Masters champ Sergio Garcia atop a lineup expected to feature 58 of the top 60 in the world rankings. … Ryan Moore is one exception, sidelined for the past month with a shoulder injury. Phil Mickelson, meantime, figures to miss to attend his firstborn’s high school graduation. … Six slots remain unfilled for players who move into the world top 60 by Monday and haven’t already qualified. Chris Wood, now No.60 after placing second at last week’s European Tour stop, is likely to get one. … A total of 14 amateurs are in the field, up three from last year’s tally. • 72-HOLE RECORD: 268, Rory McIlroy (2011 at Congressional CC). • 18-HOLE RECORD: 63, Johnny Miller (4th round, 1973 at Oakmont), Tom Weiskopf (1st round, 1980 at Baltusrol), Jack Nicklaus (1st round, 1980 at Baltusrol), Vijay Singh (2nd round, 2003 at Olympia Fields). • LAST YEAR: Johnson finally lifted his first major title, capping a bizarre Sunday in which he played his final seven holes under a penalty cloud only to render it moot with a three-shot victory. Trailing Shane Lowry by four shots to start the final day, Johnson erased the deficit with a front-nine 33. But intrigue was brewing back at the fifth green, where Johnson had faced a 6-foot par putt and backed off after a few practice strokes. He told an official the ball moved, saying he did nothing to make it move, and no penalty was assessed. But a video review raised doubt, and officials met Johnson on the 12th tee to say they needed to meet after his round. Social media backlash was instant, with TOUR players strongly voicing support for Johnson. A penalty eventually was assessed, but it made no difference after Johnson shot even-par on the back nine while Lowry and others stumbled. Johnson finished at 4-under 276 with Lowry, Jim Furyk and Scott Piercy sharing second. • STORYLINES: Johnson, with three wins in 2017 before being derailed by a slip-and-fall injury the day before the Masters, is favored to become the first man to win back-to-back Opens since Curtis Strange in 1988-89. Until missing the cut at the Memorial Tournament, he hadn’t finished outside the top 15 since January. … World No.2 Rory McIlroy, the 2011 champion, tees it up for the first time since suffering a recurrence of a rib injury at THE PLAYERS Championship. He was 35th at TPC Sawgrass, after placing seventh at the Masters. … Mickelson, lacking an Open win to complete a career Grand Slam, will spend Thursday morning at daughter Amanda’s graduation – but may fly to Erin Hills if he gets a late tee time and weather delays the opening round. • SHORT CHIPS: Just six defending Open champions since 1991 have placed higher than 30th in their title defense. Tiger Woods did it three times, with a best of sixth at Bethpage in 2009, joined by Retief Goosen (11th, 2005). Graeme McDowell (14th, 2011) and Justin Rose (12th, 2014). … The Open will have neither the winner nor runner-up from the 2011 U.S. Amateur that was held at Erin Hills. Both Kelly Kraft and Patrick Cantlay came up short in sectional qualifying. • TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 1), 6-9 p.m. (FOX). Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (FOX). Sunday, 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. (FOX). • PGA TOUR LIVE: None. • RADIO: Thursday-Friday, noon-8 p.m. ET; Saturday, noon-7 p.m.; Sunday, noon-8 p.m. (SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio and FOX Sports on SiriusXM).
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