To say that Tory Baines’ first US Open was memorable would be to say the least. So, what will the southern path do this time? Steve Carroll takes a closer look
As the second business continues, this is going to require something really dramatic. Who can forget the first? A fist from Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate, which lasted 91 holes before finally being conquered.
The 2008 US Open was in vogue and she went on to be a golf legend. But now what about the sequel?
Theater is key, and what we have at the South Ballpark in Torrey Pines is a kit that fits all USGA standards for an amazing summer.
Expect the US openings to be tough. We expect it to be rough threatening to swallow up a rival and the sight of the best player in the world being forced into the kind of shots we’re all used to on Saturday mornings.
But on the South Playground on the San Diego compound, we might have one of the most spooky rides in recent memory. Will we see carnage, like Winged Foot, or the almost unplayable greens of Shinnecock?
Statistics show that it will be difficult. Only the aforementioned winged foot played more aggressively on the PGA Tour last season. There were 116 double ghosts and more than 1,100 ghosts at the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open.
It was twelfth in the top 10 toughest of the year, while the players didn’t take a longer run – at 7,765 yards – all season.
This was for a regular tour event. Add the sadistic undertones of a major tournament and most of these guys won’t come out the same.
They played the course to secure farmers’ par 72. Thirteen years ago, when Woods was spinning on one leg, the 5-sixth gauge was converted to a brutally 4 foot long. These days, prepare if the competition committee repeats the trick.
“We’ll be going back to more old American openers where we put a premium on accuracy from a tee. You’ll see that at Torrey Pines,” USGA senior tournament director John Bodenhammer said on site in January.
“You have to lead your ball into the lanes to control your approach shots, your shots on the field and chips. The greens will be bouncy. We will have the greatest players in the world that week, and we will be able to determine the best.”
So expect wrinkled eyebrows, sore expressions, and maybe the odd curved club. It must be four days of theatrical excitement.
Where will the US Open be won or lost?
The third hole – By 3, 198 yards
Get out of the cameras – the views of the Pacific are simply stunning. But this is not window decoration. 3 packs a big punch. The two-level green slopes down the edge of a steep cliff, and paired with some unexpected breezes means it’s an anxious time when the ball is in the air. Avoid the large bunker which adds another element of danger.
twelfth hole – By 4, 501 yards
Often played in the wind, Twelfth is absolutely brutal and was the site of a ghost festival during the Tiger’s Triumph 13 years ago. Even with good driving, it will be difficult to get to the green slopes – if players can find the deck – it can be exciting. The toughest hole on the track, stats show it to be one of the toughest hole in the entire PGA Tour.
17 holes – By 4, 440 yards
Forget about the water last time around, there’s a good chance the US Open’s fate will be decided on the penultimate hole – Demonic Level 4 as the pass perilously approaches a canyon on the left. Those who avoid being forgotten here still have to pass the green test. Not only are they raised and protected by a pair of bunkers, they are also steeply sloped and form part of the fitting finish for a major tournament.