The 117th US Open is set to take place this week and in a first time venue. The course has always been a big talking point for this major, with this year being no different. Erin Hills, a brand new course opened in Wisconsin, has been chosen to host this years event. The course boasts the mass appeal of a major at a non-private club: the idea that one day, spectators will get a chance to take their own clubs onto the same grounds where history played out.
It’s no secret that the USGA likes to see the players challenged and Erin Hills will certainly pose a lot of problems to the field. This year the course will play at a record 7,741 yards — the longest course in U.S. Open and major championship history. With a combination of lengthy holes and wrist-breaking fescue, straying off-line but a bit could have your round in jeopardy. Kevin Na has already publicly complained about how impossible the fescue is to get of. This could be a sure sign of the impact a stray shot could have later in the week.
That being said, Erin Hills does have some of the widest fairways in the history of the tournament, allowing for players to be more aggressive off the tee. Rory McIlroy for one, feels the course will be a huge success and reckons anyone who can control their ball flight, particularly with their irons, will do the best here. With tough weather conditions forecast for the week, thunderstorms predicted nearly everyday, it will be interesting to see which players take quickly to the new terrain.
The favorite going into the weekend is unsurprisingly the world No.1 Dustin Johnson. Fans of the sport will be hoping he stays well away from any staircases this time around, instead of having us question what might have been. Dustin seems to have fully recovered from the freak accident that forced him to pull out of the Masters and he will be hoping he can rekindle the form he had leading up to that event. Currently waiting on the birth of his second child, this week could be one of mixed emotions for Dustin.
Rory McIlroy is another to watch this week and is favored by some to take the top spot. McIlroy has been fighting through injury for most of the year but will be hoping it doesn’t cause too much of a hindrance on his chances. This course will allow Rory to attack with the driver and when playing unconstrained, there is few to match him. With new clubs and a new ball, it will be interesting to see just how he performs.
Other players to look out for this week will be Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Justin Rose. All well capable of winning the tournament if they play to their abilities. Phil Mickelson has chosen family first this year round as he has decided to attend his daughters graduation instead of confirming his spot at the event. Barring a somewhat long weather delay, 4 hours to be precise, Phil will most likely not make his tee-time. This will leave him having to wait another year to challenge for the title that has eluded him throughout his career.
It will be exciting to see which players are able to compete on this wonderful course over the next few days. The weather will without a doubt be a factor and those who are able to play into the elements may find themselves in with a shot come Sunday. We are certainly looking forward to this one.