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Is the US Open too easy

Is the US Open’s reputation for brutality at risk at LACC?

Record scores and lots of players under par. Is this what a US Open is supposed to be about? Two of our writers discuss
 

“It’s supposed to be the toughest test in all of golf,”. You could hear the surprise in NBC commentator Paul Azinger’s voice as he surveyed the opening day carnage at the 2023 US Open.

If you’d been brought up on the Massacre of Winged Foot, then the sight of both Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele breaking the US Open scoring record – one which had stood for half a century – must have been a bit of a shock.

Thirty-seven players were under par following day one and for an event that’s supposed to be all about the battle with par, some were saying this is not the tournament they wanted to see.

But do you really mind whether it’s a birdie-fest, or is the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club playing a tad too easy for a championship with this history?

Our two writers, Matt Chivers and Steve Carroll, are on different sides of the fence…

‘The next few days are crucial for the US Open to main its reputation of brutality and chaos’

The first round of the US Open was certainly a surprise, and to me, it was disappointing to see a course so highly touted in quality and difficulty be proverbially brought to its knees, says Matt Chivers.

PGA Tour player and participant this week Michael Kim tweeted to say Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele “didn’t play the same course” as he did in California on Thursday.

Of course, the American pair deserve all the plaudits for their outstanding, history-making, rounds.

But I don’t think this was part of the script and I can’t imagine Los Angeles Country Club wanted this chapter to be written either – despite Fowler and Schauffele’s brilliance.

is the us open too easy

Barstool Sports’ Dan Rapaport quoted a LACC member on Twitter who said the players experienced a set-up not too dissimilar to what they play week in, week out on day one – only with longer rough and tees further back.

The pins will look tight on the USGA’s information sheet which will bring joy to the maniacs like me who want the best players on the planet to suffer the same woes I do on the weekend. I don’t think I’m on my own here.

The build-up to the US Open each year always promotes a jungle-like venue where the players must cut through trees and face daring challenges to survive.

The first round at LACC was anything but, and if the US Open is to maintain its unique reputation of brutality, things will need to change in the next few days.

‘The tournament was turning into a cliché. I’ve been happy to see something different for a change.’

“I’m used to the US Open being as mean as a pitbull with a bad tooth… this was like a basket of kittens.” A very descriptive way, from Brandel Chamblee, of describing the opening act of the US Open, but one that did seem to resonate with commentators and public alike, writes Steve Carroll.

There appeared genuine sorrow that players weren’t flailing around in knee-length thick stuff, and losing any measure of control on the greens, as some of the world’s best went to town on Los Angeles Country Club on day one.

But do you know what? I’ve enjoyed it. Watching Rickie Fowler break the US Open scoring record, only for Xander Schauffele to match him 20 minutes later, was genuinely exciting and almost worth the half-century wait to see that 63 fall.

‘The toughest test in golf’ tag that seems to follow America’s national championship is starting to border on farce. Do you know what I’ve found boring about this tournament? Not the incredible run of birdies, but the relentless social media reels of people dropping balls into seemingly impenetrable rough.

The tournament was starting to turn into a cliché and I’ve been happy to see something different for a change. The moaning about the set-up also forgets that the USGA has varied its set-up offering in recent years. For every Shinnecock Hills and Merion, there has been an Erin Hills, a Pinehurst, or a Pebble Beach.

Would I like to see the very best suffer? In proportion, yes, and I’m sure we’ll see much higher scoring across the weekend. But for a week that people like to think is all about our elite slashing about, it’s been great to see some different stories emerge.

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is the us open too easy

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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