Fairways And Roughs Title

The Flyover: U.S. Open

By PGA Tour News
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THE OVERVIEW ERIN, Wis. – There’s no shortage of open space here in rural Wisconsin, and that applies to the site of this year’s U.S. Open, as well. Erin Hills is surrounded by dairy pastures and farmland. No homes or other structures are visible from the course. The abundance of land available resulted in a large, open layout that could be constructed without constrictions. The holes at Erin Hills are lined by the thick grass that we’re accustomed to seeing at a U.S. Open, and even farther off-line is thick fescue that created a bit of pre-tournament controversy, but the fairways are wide enough to encourage players to hit drivers. “It lets players be aggressive,” Rory McIlroy, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, said about Erin Hills. “I think driving the golf ball is a big skill in golf, and I feel like this golf course definitely tests that.” Justin Rose, who won this championship four years ago, said Erin Hills’ second nine will especially test players’ ability with the longest club in their bag. He thinks that’s an appropriate demand for a U.S. Open venue. “What I really liked about it is that it’s obviously incredibly demanding, it’s long off the tee, which makes it demanding off the tee, but there is room to play,” Rose said. “It puts driver in play, and there is obviously a reward for hitting a good drive because I think the greens, depending on the weather, will likely get firm.” The scorecard yardage at Erin Hills is just shy of 7,700 yards, though it’s unlikely the course will play that long. Several tees on each hole give the USGA options in how they set up the course. No matter the venue, finding the fairways is of first priority at a U.S. Open. The width at Erin Hills will let skilled drivers of the golf ball swing for the fences, though. “You need to have driver in your hand here if you want to take advantage of the golf course,” McIlroy said. THREE TO PONDER Dustin Johnson The FedExCup leader welcomed his second child Monday. Now he’s seeking a second major title. He has three wins this year, but is coming off his first missed cut of the season. Jordan Spieth He won the last time the U.S. Open visited a new venue. And he has experience at Erin Hills, having made the quarterfinals of the 2011 U.S. Amateur here. Jon Rahm He was low amateur at last year’s U.S. Open. Now he’s one of the favorites. That illustrates how rapid the rise has been for the 22-year-old, who ranks fourth in the FedExCup. THE FLYOVER Take a closer look ... THE LANDING ZONE This year’s U.S. Open will end on a par-5, which could create a dramatic finish. No. 18 is no pushover, though. It’s listed at 637 yards, though there’s a good chance the tees will be moved up in some rounds to give players a crack at the green with their second shot. The well-bunkered hole makes hitting the fairway a must because those who find sand will likely be left with a lengthy third shot into the green. The green slopes from front-right to back-left, making it hard to hit the putting surface with a lengthy shot. WEATHER CHECK Thunderstorms are forecast for several days this week – though not on Thursday, when Phil Mickelson needs a weather delay in order to make his first-round tee time. Cool mornings will give way to warm afternoons, when Erin Hills will be buffeted by winds that blow across the Wisconsin farmland. TEMPS: Morning temperatures in the 60s will give way to warm afternoons, when the mercury will top 80 degrees. RAIN: Wednesday afternoon thunderstorms could soften Erin Hills before the tournament begins. There’s only a 20-percent chance of rain Thursday, but thunderstorms are a possibility Friday and Saturday. The fourth round will be played under partly cloudy skies. WINDS: Erin Hills is known for being breezy in the afternoon, and this week should be no exception. Afternoon winds are excepted to be around 10 mph in the first three rounds, and increase to 16 mph on Sunday. For the latest weather news from Erin Hills, Wisconsin, check out PGATOUR.COM’s Weather Hub. SOUND CHECK If you came for a stress-free tournament, you didn’t come to the right place. ODDS AND ENDS 1. Two of the pre-tournament favorites, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, both arrive at Erin Hills with new equipment in the bag. McIlroy has a new putter, a TaylorMade Spider. It’s the same model putter that Day and Dustin Johnson, among others, have wielded with so much success. “We tested a lot of putters, and that was really the one that came out better than the rest in terms of launch conditions. … I felt like I could bring it back to square more often than anything else I had tested,” McIlroy said. (Read more about his new putter here.) Day has replaced his 3-wood, a club he has said in the past that he has trouble hitting, with a modified 2-iron. The club can carry approximately 270 yards and roll another 20-30. “My biggest thing is I want my 2-iron to go 3-wood distance, so I can take the 3-wood out and don't have to worry about hitting a 3-wood," Day said. "Because I feel like I'm really good hitting the long irons. I shouldn't say I'm not good at hitting a 3-wood, in my times I'm good at hitting a 3-wood, I feel a lot more comfortable hitting 2-irons." (Read more about his new club here.) 2. The last player to go back-to-back at the U.S. Open? Curtis Strange, in 1988 and 1989. Dustin Johnson will try to repeat that feat. It would be the perfect ending for an already eventful week. Paulina Gretzky gave birth to the couple’s second child, a boy, on Monday. Johnson arrived at Erin Hills on Tuesday. Johnson, the FedExCup leader, has won three times this season. He is making his first start since missing the cut at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. It was his first missed cut of the season, but the free weekend allowed him to get an early peek at Erin Hills. Johnson’s first son, Tatum, was born in January 2015. WATCH THE PREVIEW


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