I am watching the first round of the US Open as I write this article and I wonder if the US Open is the toughest Major or not? I think this is a legit question considering that some conditions and courses of The Open might rival the fast greens and deep rough at Torrey Pines this weekend. Of course it would be very difficult make an in-depth comparison, but if they could I would suggest that the US Open would win out as the overall toughest Major in professional golf.
There is one word that I would use describing any miss at the US Open: punishment. If any of the players missed at any part of the course, they were certainly punished with a difficult next shot. The US Open course set up focuses on a players ability to visualize playing out of difficult conditions, reading super fast greens, and staying calm when the wheels continually fall off. Playing US Open golf at Torrey Pines is like playing a game of snakes and ladders. The player that uses the most ladders will likely win the day.
Interestingly, I only watched the morning groups. I can only imagine what the afternoon groups will contend with as the greens dry out (like Chambers Bay), the winds pick up, and fairways harder to hit because of the above two weather elements. The US Open reminds me of the TV show Survivor because it usually follows the tenet that the last person standing will win. I think the Torrey Pines course will be the perfect track to test all aspects of the professional’s game.
So, knowing that the US Open is the toughest Major, what to players have to do to win. I would suggest is to hang on tight to their basic game and hit fairways and greens. Playing 7,652 yards as a par 71, the players will have not choice to try and hit long off the tee and stay in play. Leaving the second cut will result in gouging out a shot with very little spin control. Hence trying to stop the ball on the green will be difficult at best. Also, they have to putt well (and defensively). I watched many missed putts ramble 3 to 4 feet past the hole; sinking these putts for par will be challenging and mentally draining over four days. Lastly, players will need to wait for opportunities to score. Protect their scores on the tough holes and be aggressive on the scoring holes.
As an avid golfer with a single digit handicap, I can appreciate the nuances of the US Open course set up. I am confident I would have a tough time breaking 100 at Torrey Pines given the course conditions. My respect runs deep for all the players and wish them all well. There is nothing easy about winning the US Open, just as 6 time runner up Phil Mickelson! In my view, the US Open is the toughest Major in professional golf and this weekend’s play will reinforce my view.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!