US Open 2015: What we learned from Thursday

News & Tour

It turns out the golf course is actually playable, Monty can still hit it straight and Dustin is hot when he's hot

It wasn’t impossible after all
Dustin Johnson bogeyed his last hole (the 9th) and still posted a 65. Henrik Stenson matched it. Conditions were more difficult in the afternoon (see below) but still. Why the golfing world (players included) fall for Mike Davis’s showmanship ahead of this event each year is a mystery. A glance at the leaderboard this morning shows plenty of players under par.

Tiger cards his worst ever US Open round

Only white dots separate the greens from the fairways

The fairways are fescue and the greens are fescue. Which means they are essentially the same at the US Open when the whole place is shaved (apart from the rough). The USGA have painted white dots to signify the where the green stops and the fringe starts so that the players know when they can mark their balls. It’s a curious look.

Our alternative US Open betting guide

The greens look awful – but putt better (most of the time)

If you’d paid a full green fee, you’d be demanding a refund by the time you arrived on the 1st green. Augusta National this is not. The surfaces are discoloured, patchy and became increasingly bumpy as the day wore on.

“Not good,” was how Colin Montgomerie diplomatically described them, after completing his round of 69. Let’s see if he’s using the same words having putted in the afternoon later today when they get nice and crumbly for him. You’d have to say they are sub-standard for a tournament of this stature.

That might just help some of the poorer putters in the field – it has to be a leveller because even Jordan Spieth can’t hole much on these surfaces.

Our look at the unique Chambers Bay

It’s easier in the morning

The USGA do like to present a golf course on the edge, for some reason, and what we are going to see is water pumped on to the course overnight leading to better playing conditions in the morning. Of course, all the leaders will be going out late over the weekend so they will all have to cope with it. It must mean that the early starters tomorrow will have a great chance to make up some much-needed ground.

Dustin is hot when he’s hot
You are never quite sure what he will produce on the next hole, let alone the next day, but Dustin Johnson is prodigiously talented and capable of taking a field apart in a way that few of his peers are. He was at his best for most of Thursday, smashing his driver whenever possible and looking every inch a Major champion in waiting. Will it be this week, Dustin?

For more on the 2015 US Open CLICK HERE
"Sir Nick Faldo said recently that Rory loses interest once he thinks he can’t win." Rory is not a patient putter
There is the feeling of a self-fulfilling prophecy when Rory starts the day slowly with the putter. You don’t see him turning it round. You do see him looking cheated that another putt has finished right behind the hole. Sir Nick Faldo said recently that Rory loses interest once he thinks he can’t win. Faldo doesn’t have a problem with that, it shows he single-minded, but it sometimes feels like Rory can only win on a wire-to-wire basis and that isn’t always possible. Especially against modern Major fields, which are nothing if not deep.

Chambers Bay is extreme in places

This wasn’t so much of a surprise but those seemingly never-ending shots of a ball trickling and trundling along for 10 seconds or more after landing were a real feature of the opening day – and will continue to be so over the weekend. I can think of any number of courses around the Pennines that separate Yorkshire and Lancashire whose members are well versed in the art of erring on the ‘top-side’ at all times for fear of a ball bounding away. The pros are about to learn the same lesson.

What did we expect from Chambers Bay?

Monty can still hit it straight

It was like we were back in the mid-1990s: watching Monty in the middle of every fairway and peppering the pins with his iron shots before finding the putting element more testing. Yes, he was coming in with hybrids where most were reaching for a 6 or 7 iron but this was wonderful stuff from Monty, who is aiming to play in an amazing eight Majors this year – five senior ones plus the US Open, Open (he tries to qualify in a few weeks) and the PGA (he’s already in thanks to his exploits on the Champions Tour).

There was even a late strop when it all threatened to go wrong and then he was as chipper as you like in the Sky commentary box afterwards. Vintage in every respect.

For more on the 2015 US Open CLICK HERE

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