First Look: U.S. Open
June 06, 2014
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- The U.S. Open will have a different feel at Pinehurst No. 2, which features no rough. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
• COURSE: Pinehurst Resort (No. 2), 7,562 yards, par 70. First completed in 1907, designer Donald Ross continued to refine his most celebrated work up to his death in 1948. Built on North Carolina’s sandhills, No. 2 is best known for its crowned, undulating greens that are widely considered some of the game’s most complex. A 2011 renovation by architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw restored No. 2 to Ross’ original dimensions, with all rough removed and sandy vegetation flanking fairways. The U.S. Open makes its third visit this week, following editions in 1999 and 2005, and the U.S. Women’s Open follows next week in an unprecedented back-to-back.
• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 600 points.
• CHARITY: The U.S. Golf Association distributes more than $5 million a year through its “For the Good of the Game” grants, working to create opportunities for underprivileged youth and people with disabilities. Among the recipients are The First Tee, LPGA Foundation, LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, National Alliance for Youth Sports and National Alliance for Accessible Golf.
• FIELD WATCH: Phil Mickelson, now seeking the final leg for a career Grand Slam, and Masters titleholder Bubba Watson join defending champion Justin Rose atop a list that figures to include 58 of the top 60 in the world rankings. … World No. 4 Tiger Woods, a three-time U.S. Open champion, and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn have given up automatic berths because of injury. … Five slots remain open for players who move into the world top 60 by Monday and haven’t already qualified. Kevin Na, runner-up in last week’s Memorial playoff, will claim one. … A total of 79 entrants came through 36-hole sectional qualifying, including 22 that survived both local and sectional tests.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 268, Rory McIlroy (2011 at Congressional CC).
• 18-HOLE RECORD: 63, Johnny Miller (4th round, 1973 at Oakmont), Tom Weiskopf (1st round, 1980 at Baltusrol), Jack Nicklaus (1st round, 1980 at Baltusrol), Vijay Singh (2nd round, 2003 at Olympia Fields).
• LAST YEAR: Justin Rose gave England its first major trophy in 17 years, finishing atop a fast-changing leaderboard at Merion that saw 19 lead changes in the final round. Rose fashioned an even-par 70 on the final day, finishing two shots ahead of Mickelson and Jason Day as a 1-over 281 crowned a champion on the shortest U.S. Open layout in decades. A bogey at No. 16 dropped Rose into a three-way tie with Mickelson and Mahan, only to stand alone again when both rivals dropped shots on their pass through the 16th – Mickelson with bogey, Mahan with double bogey. Mickelson (74) wound up adding to his own record total with a sixth runner-up finish. England’s last major winner came in 1996 when Nick Faldo captured his third Masters; no Englishman had won the U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970.
• STORYLINES: Mickelson, whose The Open Championship victory last July gave him three legs of the career Grand Slam, comes to Pinehurst in quest of the missing piece. Pinehurst was the site of his first runner-up finish, losing a Sunday duel to the late Payne Stewart in 1999. … No. 2’s restoration gives the course a completely different look than in 1999 and 2005. The lack of rough creates wider fairways, but stray drives could be difficult to find in the natural foliage. … Watson has a chance to become just the fourth player since World War II to sweep the Masters and U.S. Open. Jack Nicklaus was the last in 1972, preceded by Arnold Palmer (1960) and Ben Hogan (1951, ’53).
• SHORT CHIPS: This week marks 25 years since Curtis Strange became the last man to win back-to-back U.S. Opens. Strange followed up his 1988 victory at The Country Club with a one-shot triumph at Oak Hill. … Just three Open winners since 1991 have finished higher than 30th in their title defense. Woods did it three times, tying for 12th in 2001 (Southern Hills), 20th in 2003 (Olympia Fields) and sixth in 2009 (Bethpage). Retief Goosen tied for 11th in 2005 at Pinehurst after holding the 54-hole lead, and Graeme McDowell was 14th in 2011 at Congressional. … Will Grimmer, one of nine amateurs in the field, shot a 59 on Pinehurst’s No. 1 course during last year’s North & South Junior Amateur.
• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. ET (ESPN), 3-5 p.m. (NBC), 5-7 p.m. (ESPN). Saturday-Sunday, noon-7:30 p.m. (NBC).
• RADIO: Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. ET; Saturday-Sunday, 2-8 p.m. (ESPN Radio).