Top golf coach Bill Harmon has criticised the way that the USGA has set up Winged Foot for this week’s US Open.
Harmon, the brother of Tiger Woods’ former coach Butch and the Director of Instruction at Toscana CC in California, was surprised and disappointed to see such benign scoring conditions in the opening round of the COVID-delayed championship.
A total of 21 players broke on day one. By comparison, there were only 12 sub-par rounds across the four rounds when the major was most recently played at the New York course in 2006.
“Today was by far the easiest set-up I’ve ever seen at a US Open,” wrote Harmon on Facebook. “The hole locations were incredibly easy. It was like they set it up for the ‘Whalewatchers Scramble’ outing. Total joke.”
Whilst Harmon believes that the USGA deserves credit on managing to stage the championship in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he maintains that they have blundered in the way they have readied the course for the visit of the world’s best players.
“The ‘Winged Footers’ (I’m one of ‘em) were disappointed in the way the course was set up today with the incredibly soft hole locations and the apparent absence of use of their expensive sub-air system that could have firmed up the surfaces. It will be very interesting to see the Friday set-up.”
He added: “One concern that I believe is valid is that having the Open in September, they have two less hours of daylight to work with and perhaps they made it easier to get everyone to finish their rounds. I understand that concern.
“With cool and windy conditions moving in starting Friday and forecasted through Sunday, [it] should make things a bit more interesting.”
World No.3 Justin Thomas currently leads the way on five-under, with Patrick Reed, Thomas Pieters and Matthew Wolff a shot behind.