US OPEN 2012: All about OlympicJune, 2012
An in-depth course analysis: where to score; who it suits; key holes
WHERE TO SCORE
This is expected to be the toughest start to any US Open and if you can come through the first six holes in a couple over you will be doing well. The 1st hole has averaged around 4.7 the last few US Opens and was a par 5, it is now a par 4. The 3rd can play as long as 247 yards and is likely to be the hardest of the short holes while the 4th and 5th tilt in the opposite direction to the dogleg.
There should, though, be an opportunity to make up a shot or two in the last five with the 17th switching from a four to a five to make back-to-back par 5s and the last measures only 344 yards. The front nine plays to a par of 34, the back nine 36.
Graduated rough was introduced in 2006 and that will continue, so the more off-line you are the thicker it gets. There will also be longer rough beside the fairways on short holes and shorter rough on the longer holes to encourage players to take on the approach. The course measures 7,170 yards but that is unlikely to be used with options to move tees forward.
The greens on the Lake Course have all been rebuilt so now there is a hybrid bent grass in place as opposed to poa annua. What that means to you and me is that the greens should stay smooth as the day goes by rather than getting bumpy. They should run between 11 and 11 1/2 on the Stimp.
Graduated rough was introduced in 2006 and that will continue, so the more off-line you are the thicker it gets.
Other than the switching of the pars on the 1st and 17th the par-3 8th has seen the biggest changes. It has been lengthened by 60 yards and is now one of the signature holes with fans being able to sit along the hillside the entire length of the hole as well as being able to watch the green at the 7th and tee shots at the 9th.
One big talking point will be a temporary bunker that has been put in at the 17th.
When the tournament committee visited in February the ideal lay-up spot was thought to be 50 yards short and right of the green so a new bunker has been put in place. The USGA paid for it to go in and will pay for it to be removed after the Open.
WHO WILL IT SUIT?
Last year the USGA executive director Mike Davis said he thought Congressional would suit a long ball hitter who hit it high. Step forward Rory McIlroy. This year he believes there will be no great emphasis on length rather someone who can manouevre the ball will prosper.
Seven of the 14 holes dogleg and on eight of the 14 holes you can expect to be playing from an uneven lie. It will also be firm and the greens are small so the ability to find the right part of the green is crucial and, when you don’t find the putting surface, knowing where to miss is equally important.
When you do miss there are closely mown areas on seven of the holes so the option to putt, bump and run one up or chip is there. The days of endlessly lumping it out of thick, tangly rough are thankfully gone.
THE KEY HOLES
Having back-to-back par 5s at 16 and 17 means there will be plenty of scope for late moves. The 16th can be as much as 670 yards making it the longest hole in US Open history but that will only likely be used for two days. When the tee is moved up expect to see players hooking their tee shot, and then their approach, towards the green.
The 17th has played around the 4.7 mark in previous Opens and is now a par 5. If you do go for it and miss it right or long a mown area awaits which is thought to be the most severe on the course. If you don’t get it all the way up it will come back to your feet.