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Open held here 14 years ago was that you will see much larger closely mown areas around these greens. Many of these holes had rough right up against the greens, which is how it was designed when Flynn built the course. So the club did a marvellous job taking these out. So right off the bat when you play the 1st hole, when you used to go over that green it falls down a hill.
If you went over the green you used to go into the rough. Now all of a sudden you go down a hill, and what these closely mown areas do - think Pinehurst Number 2 - what they do is give options to the players, but they don't necessarily make it easier.
So a player might be able to putt it, hit a bump and run, hit a pitch shot. But it gives options to the players, but also gets a ball farther away from the green when you miss it.
Open, but Shinnecock doesn't give you the opportunity too much to run balls into greens. You still have to fly it on to the greens. Where an Open Championship on a links course over there you can run it in. So you still have flight your irons, you still have to be able to stop it pretty quickly, especially if they do get the greens as firm as they want them. It really turned within one hole. When we played the first hole we played it downwind, and when we got to the second tee, the wind was completely turned around and we were playing into the wind instead of downwind.
The wind suddenly switched within one hole, and that made the golf course play a little bit different. Today the golf course really played like a US Open. The greens were pretty much dead out there. There's a few pins that we saw on TV, the ball runs up to the hole and runs away from the hole. And the fairways and the wind got up, so today the course really showed its teeth. A lot of elevation and sidehill and uphill lies and things like that.
You've just got to try and hit the fairways and keep it below the hole and give yourself uphill putts, which some of the holes are pretty impossible to leave yourself an uphill putt.
I'll try to hit a lot more middle of the greens and putt from the middle up into the corners where pins are placed and make birdies that way. But you really have to pick your spots where you try to make birdie.
There's only four or five holes out there that when you stand on the tee you feel like you have a good chance to make birdie. So it's not a hole that I'll attack per se as much as I will try to attack the course from the centre of the fairway, centre of the green. I like the greens, how the break is very subtle and you're able to pick it up and I'm able to read the greens well. It's poa annua grass, which I grew up on in southern California.
It's a course that provides anybody a great chance to win or to do well if you're playing well. I don't feel like there's any tricks to it that you need to play here for years to know the course. I feel like if you're playing well it's pretty straightforward golf and you can do well. I don't remember the firmness and the speed of the fairways being quite so quick.
In the past, in 95, I thought the fairways played a little bit slower, so it's very difficult to hit the ball in the fairway. You've got to really drive the ball well, and if you do that, you can take advantage of the course. I didn't feel like you could really attack this type of golf course. If you play well and have an opportunity to shoot a low score, if you shoot at the pins on every hole and don't hit good golf shots you're going to pay for it.
I've tried to take a little bit more conservative approach and accepted a 10 or 15 foot putt for a birdie as opposed to trying to shoot at pins and land them three or four feet. The way the greens are and the slopes off the sides of the greens and the pin placements near the edges, if you're off a little bit, you're really going to pay for it and make bogeys.
I hit the ball extremely well, hit the ball in the fairway and gave myself a lot of opportunities to putt for birdies. The United States oldest genuine links test. So what are the key factors to watch out for, what trends need to be taken into account and what skill-sets does a US Open Champion have to have in his locker?
This gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test: In Retief Goosen, who won the previous US Open held here, we have a long and straight driver of the golf ball whose patient approach paid huge dividends. A 4-time top 10 finisher at the Open Championship, Goosen was no stranger to success on links-style golf courses at the highest level and naturally had also won the United States Open Championship 3 years earlier at Southern Hills.
His victory was sealed by a combination of excellent driving - he ranked 3rd for Total Driving - and top-notch ball-striking where he topped the field. Naturally we can't base all of our assessments on with a course that has changed significantly.
Find a patient sort who can also scramble and you won't be far wrong. Another potential angle from was the make-up of the first 3 players home. All experienced, with 34 Major top 10 performances between them.
Major Championship Experience Counted Hugely at the Phil Mickelson had accumulated 18 Major top finishes prior to finishing runner-up at Shinnecock Hills, including The Masters title 2 months prior: Jeff Maggert had accumulated 10 Major top finishes prior to finishing in third place at Shinnecock Hills including 5 US Open top 9 finishes: It's worth taking a look at courses where Retief Goosen has played well at in the past to get a view on correlating form that we can transfer to the field.
I have focussed mainly on the PGA Tour, but have also highlighted one of his European Tour victories which transfers nicely when it comes to links golf course upside: In this day and age of abundant golf statistics, it's interesting to look at what inbound player skill strengths, if any, are particularly shared by US Open winners. Naturally this can't be an exact science as the US Open moves from course to course, with venues changing in terms of key requirements required by the eventual winner.
However there are undoubtedly patterns which are not exact, but definitely highlight trends. For instance 9 of the last 11 winners of the US Open ranked in the top 13 in the All-Round skill category in their last appearance.
That becomes 8 out of 11 if you raise the requirement to top 10 All-Round as Brooks Koepka in ranked 13th for All-Round the week before at St Jude.
We did say this is not an exact science, but there are definite trends which help to highlight players who are strong in key US Open areas. It's fact that no recent US Open winner has been outside the top 18 for Greens in Regulation in the week they won. Naturally hitting your irons and approaches well is a huge upside. But if we're looking for strong skill-sets in a winner's previous appearance, we actually need to look for top-level driving.
For Martin Kaymer that happened to be at Wentworth, so he has to be excluded from the next Strokes Gained stat angle, but that Total Driving number also translates very well to Strokes Gained Off the Tee. We're used to hitting a 7-iron yards into a slight breeze because it's warm.
All of a sudden you go to a links course and that same little breeze is taking 20, 30 yards off the shot. A good example, like I had to the pin on the first playoff hole. And like I know -I've got 7-iron in my hand and I know because of the temperature and it's only - there's hardly a breeze out there, but I know I'm probably going to hit my 7-iron yards.
But I know in these conditions I'm doing well, I hit that well to get to pin-high. Just playing last week, definitely you have to spend time to getting used to the different conditions. And obviously chipping and putting, similar sort of thing. I had great pace this week. I had no fear standing over yard, yard, yard putts from off the green. I had no fear. I rolled them up stone dead. Like I had a great week of rolling putts up like on 16 up that bank. I was confident I was going to put that in.
More than anything because it rained. The course is - I said it yesterday, I think, I think it's the best shaped links course I've ever seen. I've never seen a links course where the fairways are so pure and the greens are so good. It's definitely - if you get going and there's not much wind, like it was today, there was a little bit of a breeze and it was a little cool so that didn't make it easier. But at least it felt like it was playable. You could hit a 5-iron and it wasn't going to release 15 yards or something like that, so you could stop it somewhere around the hole.
You still have to hit a lot of good shots because there's a lot of good holes on the back nine, 10, 12, 15, 16, 17, So you still have to hit a lot of good shots.
But there were some birdie chances out there. I managed to hit some good shots and hole some putts. But the wind was different. The wind was from the left, it was an uncomfortable wind, it wasn't hurting as much.
I knew I could rely on my iron play. I could rely on a good, solid 2-iron off the tee and leave myself a 4- or 5-iron to the green, hit a solid shot. Even if I don't hit the green, hit it around the right bunker or maybe in the left trap, and from there I can make four, five at the worst. What you don't want to do is start hitting to these bunkers and get in trouble. So I was very much relying on that.
And I don't have any complaints about it. There are so many holes where you're forced to hit long irons into the greens. Obviously if you miss the ball in any of the pot bunkers off the tee you have to go sideways, if you can. You can't advance it forward. I think that's probably a misconception. If you watch guys play practice rounds you're going to see them hit a lot of long clubs. Granted there are some short holes.
It depends on the finish. If the wind is into you coming home, it's all you want on the golf course. Yes, it's extremely fair. It's not like it was in ' It's probably a little more difficult than it was in the Scottish Opens I played.
So it's roughly right in between. And if we have wind like yesterday morning, conditions like that, or any kind of wind on this golf course, it just becomes a lot more difficult than you think. You really do have to hit the ball well here. The greens are extremely subtle, just like all links courses, they're hard to read. I really like this golf course or I feel comfortable on this course because of the way a lot of the holes are set up and some of the shot values that we have into the greens.
I like a lot of the holes that have bunkers 30 yards short of the green downwind. It's a challenge to carry over them and get the ball stopped on the green.
Those are holes where you have to carry the ball and still get it in soft. Even though you're playing a crosswind or downwind you want to bring the ball in high and soft, which is a lot like the shots we hit back in the States. The holes that tend to play into the wind, there seems to be enough room to keep the driver in the fairway and attack some of the greens. What I really like about this course is how much room around the green there is to hit shots and hit chip shots and have a chance to let your short game make pars for you.
I think that's my favourite thing about Carnoustie. They're trying to make you hit it down the left side which brings the creek or the burn into play down the left. With the wind off the left today it was a very interesting hole. It was hard to keep it down the left, and it was bringing those two right-hand bunkers into play. You have to get it close to the bunkers to carry the rough and the moguls in the middle of the fairway. It began to be a tricky hole, what used to be quite a straight forward hole.
Downwind the landing area becomes much wider. It's a legitimate birdie chance. Into the wind you've got to play it as a three-shot hole. If you hit one bad shot, it's like a chain reaction hole.
If you put it out of position on the tee you're looking at six, or have a bad layup you're looking at six, so it's really a par On 17 and 18 that's the main holes where I think the back tee on 18 the Barry Burn just cuts in a little bit on the right side, probably about say So into the wind, which on Monday was into the wind, that burn is going to cut in more so than it has in the previous years where you've been driving it down to where the bunkers are.
Because the burn cuts across the fairway. So it really - it limits the way you can play the 17th hole in my mind, which is a good thing. It's a good strategic hole. There's no way to get it out without dropping it. I think this one and Lytham are really well bunkered, but this golf course has the length, as I say. And it seems like the wind always blows here. I'm staying at St. Andrews this week, I was at St. Andrews this morning, and the flags were -- there was no wind.
You come out here and it's blowing. So it seems like this course, with the weather conditions and the way that the layout is, it's a very demanding layout. You've got to play every shot in the bag.
Every links shot you can think of you get tested here. This gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test: Naturally these statistics have to be taken in the context that the Open at Carnoustie was actually very fair from a weather perspective. Thursday was played on a rain-softened golf course and with wind strength which allowed pretty good scoring to take place - in all, 25 players shot below the par of Stronger winds on Friday curtailed the scoring, but despite the cold temperatures, Carnoustie didn't really show its teeth.
Based on , Carnoustie certainly favoured the longer hitters. That makes sense as the Carnoustie Links played to a stretching 7, yard, par The other distinctive statistic that shines through is that the three players also ranked 1st Harrington , 6th Garcia and 16th Romero for scrambling on the week. On a course where the best players were missing greens over the tournament, missing them in the right spots and scrambling to make par was actually far more important than a hot putter.
Statistics don't always highlight the full story and indeed a detailed look at the results history of Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia and the three best American finishers here across and - namely Justin Leonard, Stewart Cink and Hunter Mahan - is worthy of research.
The links history of winner Padraig Harrington needs little explanation. Harrington had already finished 5th twice at Open Championships, namely at Royal Troon in and at Muirfield in , prior to arriving at Carnoustie. He'd also won the Dunhill Links Championship twice in and , so had played the venue course a good number of times.
Padraig has also finished 5th at Augusta in Sergio Garcia's Open Championship record prior to arriving in Scotland was exceptional, despite the obvious lack of a victory.
Sergio had also finished 8th and 4th at Augusta.