Are you listening, USGA?
Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy have had their say on the upcoming US Open, with some subtle remarks about the course set-up at Shinnecock Hills.
The course set-up at US Opens has been the subject of serious scrutiny from players in recent years – from the green at Chambers Bay in 2015, to the length of the rough at Erin Hills last year – and the duo haven’t been shy in speaking out to put pressure on the organisation to get things right.
When Mickelson, who finished runner-up at Shinnecock Hills in 2004, was asked about its seventh hole – deemed ‘unplayable’ in the final round 14 years ago – after finishing up at the Memorial Tournament, he said: “I think it's a great hole until the USGA gets a hold of it. I'm concerned every time they get a hold of it. But I think it's a great hole.”
McIlroy, who blitzed the field at the 2011 US Open, added: “I think the USGA thinks we’re better than we actually are, if that makes sense. I think they overthink it. I think that, and I don’t want to single out [USGA executive director] Mike Davis, above, here. I think it’s a collective thought process.
“I don’t think it should be as much of an exact science to set up golf courses as it is. I mean, get the fairways sort of firm, grow the rough, put the pins in some tough locations, but fair, and let us go play.”
Speaking after his final round at the Memorial Tournament, McIlroy said he’s now going up to Shinnecock Hills, where he will spend the next two weeks. Mickelson, meanwhile, has already spent time up in the Hamptons and was impressed with what he saw.
“When I was there last week, I think it's the greatest set-up I've seen in a US Open,” he said. “The rough is brutal... but the fairways are so wide that a well-struck shot ends up in the fairway.
“I think that it will reward the best player as opposed to having luck be a big element on some of the bounces in the fairway, bounces around the green, how it comes out of the rough, so forth. Skill is going to be the primary factor.”
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