|2017 U.S. Open Preview|
Like Chambers Bay in 2015, Erin Hills is a first-time U.S. Open venue and a relative unknown to the pros as it has little tournament history. It hosted a U.S. Amateur in 2011 as a preparation for the Open.
The heavily bunkered, tree-less course, which opened in 2006, by description sounds comparable to Oakmont, last year’s U.S. Open venue, where Dustin Johnson’s length and short-game prowess powered him to a break through major championship.
That win catapulted Johnson to the most dominant stretch of his career and the world No. 1 ranking. That momentum was stalled at the Masters after a freak fall caused him to withdraw with a back injury. Can he return to form on a course that will play to his strengths – namely length? Or will another big bomber raise the trophy?
On Thurs., we start to find out. Here’s a look at the leading storylines heading into the first U.S. Open ever in the state of Wisconsin.
The knowns are these: the rough is thick and the course is long, because that’s what a traditional U.S. Open setup is. But practically everything else about the longest course in U.S. Open history (7,741 yards) remains a mystery.
The pros will be using their practice rounds to get used to the new layout and particularly its treacherous bunkers, of which there are three types, the nuances of its rolling terrain and the sight lines for a number of blind semi-blind approaches.
The course is such an unknown that ESPN golf analyst Andy North, a Wisconsin native, gave a 30-shot range for predicting the winning score.
“We really don’t know if it’s going to be closer to 15-over or 15-under,” he said.
Of note: the last major played in Wisconsin, the 2015 PGA at Whistling Straits, saw Jason Day post a major championship scoring record of 20-under.
Will someone solve Erin Hills and go on a similar birdie binge or will it be a week that sees a barrage of bogeys? We seem to have a true wildcard course on our hands, but there’s no such mystery about the favorite: It’s Dustin Johnson.
A Double For D.J.?
There hasn’t been repeat champion at the U.S Open since Curtis Strange defended in 1989. Will the 117th Open see Johnson snap that streak?
The fairways are reportedly twice as wide as the ones Johnson dominated at Oakmont a year ago, so the set-up is friendly to his prodigious length, but it’s his improved wedge and short game that has really been the game changer for his 2017 dominance.
Johnson, however, hasn’t seemed to have quite the same sharpness since returning to competition after the Masters. He missed the cut at his last event (the Memorial), but some analysts viewed that as a blessing in disguise because it allowed him to get a head start on his Open preparation.
We’ll soon see if that extra preparation pays off and Johnson can reclaim the dominating form he had going into the Masters, before which he had reeled off three straight victories.
If D.J. is right, are you betting against him? His putting has improved as well this year and he’s part of a Tour trend.
How They Roll
Rory McIlroy is the latest to add a mallet putter to his bag in a last-minute equipment change this week. The mallet is becoming the preferred style on Tour. Putting is always key, but a hot putter could really get on a roll this week due to the impeccable course conditions.
Erin Hills has been closed since October to ensure premium conditions for the Open, especially on the greens, which, unlike Chambers Bay, are yielding compliments from the pros. The pros who figure out the greens the fastest could gain an early edge. Martin Kaymer solved Pinehurst once by putting from off the greens. That option isn’t available this week, but steady putting will still be crucial.
Who will wield the magic wand that will lead to victory this week? Will it be a past major winner or a championship newcomer like it has been in the previous six majors?
Break On Through, Part 7?
Sergio Garcia’s win at the Masters pushed the streak of first-time major winners to six. Can another first-timer get hot and continue the streak? Rickie Fowler? John Rahm? Justin Thomas?
Understandably, the Tour’s top bombers dominate the list of favorites. Will one of them prevail if D.J. can’t recapture his A game? If bogeys abound, it could turn into a real scramble (think British Open) and the bounces could favor another first-timer.
But if U.S. Open experience prevails …
Can recent history repeat?
Before D.J., the previous three U.S. Open winners were Jordan Spieth, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose. Rory McIlroy is also a past champion and the holder of the Open scoring record, 16-under in 2011.
Rose is on something akin to a major hot streak of his own. He finished runner-up to Garcia at Augusta and previously won the gold medal in the Rio Olympics playing under course conditions that sound a bit similar to what he’ll be facing this week at Erin Hills. GolfWeek actually has Rose listed as its No. 2 pick behind D.J. and ahead of Jason Day to raise the trophy this week (that’s a TaylorMade trio, by the way) and then rounds out its top five with Spieth and McIlroy.
Will one of the favorites prevail or will major-victory rookies resume their rise at the majors? We’ll start to get some clues when the major fun begins on Thurs.
Watch the tournament unfold in the Clubhouse. And, since you're coming to Riverwalk anyways, might as well play a round of golf...
|Highlights from the PGA Tour|
The 80th annual Masters Professional Golf Tournament was recently concluded at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, with results that were historical, and at times shocking and amazing, depending on your point of view. Pre-tournament favorites included many of the sport's young lions, like Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Ricky Fowler, and of course last year's Masters champion, Jordan Spieth.
The course was made unusually difficult by fairly strong winds which prevailed through the first three days of play and ballooned scoring for most players, but at the end of each of those first three days, the leader was again Jordan Spieth. Since Spieth also led last year's Masters tournament after each round, including the final one, this made a total of seven consecutive rounds at the Masters where Spieth was the standalone leader – a feat which has never been accomplished before in Masters history.
Unfortunately for Mr. Spieth, he was not the leader after the final round of the 2016 Masters, giving way to Englishman Danny Willett. The shocking part of this conclusion was that early on in the final round, Spieth actually had a lead of five strokes over his nearest competitor, but all that went up in flames on the disastrous 12th hole, where he made a quadruple-bogey seven.
By hitting his ball into Rae's Creek twice, he not only surrendered the lead, but at the time dropped down into fourth place. Spieth did rally over the remaining holes of the round to finish in a tie for second place, but his shocking collapse at Augusta National in 2016 will be remembered and discussed for many years to come.
Golf's enduring appeal
While the professionals who ply their trade at the great tournaments of golf can be said to play a slightly different game than the rest of us amateurs, the appeal of golf is something that never diminishes with age, and continues to cast its spell over almost every sportsman who even attempts to play.
It's hard to imagine a more enjoyable block of time than spending several hours in a beautiful natural setting, with friends whose company you enjoy, competing against the golf course, your friends, and even yourself, as you struggle to concentrate on making good swings, and avoiding treacherous hazards.
When in San Diego
When you happen to be in San Diego on business, vacation, or just driving in from a nearby city, the one golf course you won't want to miss is Riverwalk Golf Course in San Diego, CA. Here the very finest care is taken of the golf course grounds to keep it in pristine playing condition, and the beautiful San Diego weather will make your golf round seem like a five-hour walk through paradise.
Whether you're looking for a new course to play, or perhaps you've played at Riverwalk many times before and simply can't stay away, come to Riverwalk Golf Course and let yourself be seduced all over again by the age-old allure of golf.
|Golf's Rising Young Star Eclipses Veterans at U.S. Open|
On Sunday, June 21st at Chambers Bay golf course, on the eastern shores of Puget Sound in Washington State, Jordan Spieth claimed victory over many of the best golfers in the world, making this the second major championship he has won in the present calendar year. This is only the 16th time any PGA player has won both titles, and only the 6th time any player has secured them both in the same year. Since Spieth is a mere 21 years old, it seems likely that his future in the world of competitive golf is extraordinarily bright, and that before he's finished, he will own a great many more championships.
This victory, however, was nothing like the comparative walk in the park that the Masters Tournament victory was for him earlier this year in April. At that tournament, Spieth cruised to a 4-shot win over Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose, but this U.S. Open was a nail-biter every step of the way on those last 18 holes. In the end, Spieth won the tournament by a single shot over South African Louis Oosthuizen and American Dustin Johnson, although over the last three dramatic finishing holes, any of the three players could have won the tournament.
Johnson began the day in the lead, but faltered with bogeys on holes 10, 11, and 13 before surging back with a birdie on 17. Spieth, playing in the group ahead of him, had just double-bogeyed the 17th to bring Johnson back into contention. Oosthuizen had already finished, carding his third straight torrid round at Chambers Bay, after an opening round 77 that ultimately proved to be his downfall.
Spieth had a chance for an eagle on the 18th, but missed the putt and settled for a birdie which put him back in the lead, after which he watched Johnson play the 18th from the media trailer. Johnson played two terrific shots to give himself an excellent chance for eagle, landing just 12 feet from the cup on the 18th green. After missing the eagle putt, he still had a 4-footer for birdie that would have tied Spieth for the lead and forced a playoff round on Monday. But inexplicably, he missed that short putt, giving the championship to Spieth outright, and in doing so, capping off one of the great finishes to a U.S. Open tournament.
Golf in the Western U.S.
Washington isn't the only state in the West to have some great golf courses. Anyone who resides in the San Diego area or is there visiting would be well advised to drop in and book a tee time at Riverwalk Golf Club. Riverwalk provides the absolute best San Diego golf experience, with great prices, great scenery, and great refreshments afterward.
Riverwalk is the San Diego golf course that consistently receives high marks from patrons who love its Mission Valley location, and its layout featuring 100 bunkers, along with mature stands of palm, oak, and eucalyptus. Riverwalk offers 27 holes which are ideal for tournaments, and sure to challenge all player levels from novice all the way up to San Diego pro golf.