It may offer the most recognizable bird's-eye view of any golf course on Google Maps if for no other reason than it sprawls in stark contrast to its seven brothers at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina. The renovated No. 2 course hosts this week's 114th U.S. Open.
If Pinehurst is the capital of golf in the United States, as Zach Johnson said recently, then what Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have done to restore No. 2 to a design more resembling what Donald Ross created in 1907 would be like Major League Baseball rebuilding Crosley Field in Cincinnati and using it for league play. The schematics of the U.S. Open are truly an homage to the past albeit influenced with modern equipment and decades of knowledge to tailor to the abilities of current talent. All that might be missing is a black-and-white image on your HDTV.
At 7,562 yards, Pinehurst No. 2 measures exactly what Quail Hollow listed on its scorecard. The difference is that Pinehurst will play to a par of 70, two short of the host site of the Wells Fargo Championship. There is no rough at Pinehurst, at least in terms of its colloquially connected definition for grass. Instead, expanses of sand, native grass and throwback hazards like exposed tree roots and naturally created depressions yield more than enough reason not to become acquainted with any of it.
With a fine line between superb and terrible lies off the tee and greens somewhat reminiscent to the terrace in left field at Crosley, course management will be key as it always is in this championship, but confident drivers will have an advantage given the overall length. A high ball-flight into the greens will be valuable, but touch around them will likely separate the field deep into the tournament. Scrambling (and statistically, bogey avoidance) could matter more than hitting greens in regulation since few if any of the entrants can draw back on experience putting them. They average just under 6,400 square feet, which is comparable to the overall average of PGA TOUR courses.
If anyone is going to throw a wrench into this turn-back-the-clock week, it's Mother Nature. A similar threat of inclement weather that populated the short-range forecast in Memphis a week ago returns for the major. High temperatures in the upper 80s will help fuel thunderstorms. Wind is not expected to be a factor, but it should never be ruled out.
POWER RANKINGS: U.S. OPEN
1 Adam Scott 2 Rory McIlroy 3 Phil Mickelson 4 Bubba Watson 5 Matt Kuchar 6 Jason Day 7 Webb Simpson 8 Hideki Matsuyama 9 Bill Haas 10 Sergio Garcia 11 Jim Furyk 12 Charl Schwartzel 13 Billy Horschel 14 Justin Rose 15 Jordan Spieth 16 Dustin Johnson 17 Keegan Bradley 18 Jason Dufner 19 Henrik Stenson 20 Miguel Angel Jimenez