US OPEN | OAKMONT
Eighty-one years on from staging its very first US Open, the spotlight will once again be on Oakmont Country Club as the Pennsylvanian layout hosts its first championship since 2007.
But what will it take to win at Oakmont this week? Craig Dennett spoke to the club’s head professional Devin Gee, who gave the inside track on what to expect this week, with the most recent winner at Oakmont, Angel Cabrera, shooting five-over-par when he won in 2007.
“It’s so tough,” said Gee. “There are no water hazards on the golf course and there’s no real place where out of bounds challenges the golf hole, but it’s so unbelievably tough.
“It’s the hardest golf course I’ve ever played where you should play the round with the same golf ball. I think that’s the best way to describe the challenge of Oakmont.
“The fairway bunkers are so challenging, they’re practically an automatic one-shot penalty. Then, if you miss the green and are on the wrong side of the hole, you’re facing a real battle to make par.”
“Whoever wins the event here is going to have to have an incredible week and play well for all four rounds.”
So, what kind of player does Oakmont Country Club really suit? Will it be the big hitter or the player with pinpoint accuracy that triumphs? According to Gee, both are required, as well as a little bit of luck.
“Oakmont has always been known for its fast and undulating greens, which is certainly the case, but the real danger comes from the fairway bunkers which are extremely penal.
“It’s going to take the total package to post a score on this golf course. Regardless of whether it’s the US Open or any day here, you have to drive it straight, you have to hit it on the right side of the hole and you have to control your putter.
“I’d say the winner will be whoever is the best at getting it in play off the tee for that week. The one thing about Oakmont, we saw it in 2007, you have to hit it in the fairway.
“You can miss the greens on some occasions and still have a chance of getting up and down, but if you don’t hit it in the fairway, it’s hard to score. Whoever gets hot with that driver is certainly going to have a chance towards the end of the week.
“One of the key features of the course is its great combination of long and short par-4s. It’s always interesting to watch how the players negotiate those. Players will look at them and hope to birdie them, but they’re not holes you should expect to make birdie on.
“The guys that are strategic with those holes and play those holes the best throughout the week usually fare pretty well.”
Oakmont pro Devin Gee in bunkered
This interview with Oakmont head professional Devin Gee first appeared in issue 147 of bunkered (published: May 2016).