Spieth visits Oakmont ahead of U.S. Open
May 04, 2016
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- Defending U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth played 18 holes at Oakmont CC on Wednesday. (Justin Aller/Getty Images)
Jordan Spieth played Oakmont Country Club for the first time this week. He saw a course that is a severe contrast to the one he conquered to win last year’s U.S. Open.
Chambers Bay, the nouveau-links course in Washington state that made its Open debut in 2015, was a long, wide course with firm, fescue fairways that allowed participants to play shots along the ground. Oakmont, on the other hand, is the prototypical U.S. Open layout. This will be the ninth Open at the notoriously difficult track outside of Pittsburgh. No course has hosted the tournament that many times.
Spieth played Oakmont’s back nine on Tuesday, followed by an 18-hole round Wednesday morning. He used a local caddie during Wednesday’s round.
“The best player will come out on top,” he said Wednesday at a news conference. “You will have no crazy circumstance or bounces or this or that. You have to golf your ball around this place, and the person who is in full control of their entire game will win this U.S. Open.”
Angel Cabrera won the previous U.S. Open held at Oakmont, in 2007. His score of 5-over 285 was one better than Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk.
Oakmont has been the site of historic U.S. Opens like the 1973 tournament, which was won by Johnny Miller’s final-round 63 on a rain-softened course, and the 1962 duel between Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Nicklaus earned his first pro win by beating the local favorite in a playoff. Ben Hogan won the 1953 U.S. Open as part of his Triple Crown season, when he became the first person to win three majors in one year. The 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont was the first of Ernie Els’ four major titles.
“I know that if you win a U.S. Open at Oakmont, you can go ahead and say that you’ve conquered the hardest test in all of golf, because this is arguably the hardest course in America day-to-day,” Spieth said.
Oakmont is known for its fast, pitched greens that leave players with big-breaking putts. Several of the greens slope from front-to-back, requiring precise distance control. Many of Oakmont’s deep bunkers don’t give players a chance to recover, requiring them to pitch out to the fairway.
Spieth likened the bunkers to the pot bunkers players see on links courses at The Open Championship.
Spieth said there are several holes short enough for players to hit long irons off the tee, but they’ll have to curve the ball to hold Oakmont’s sloped fairways. He estimated some players would hit driver fewer than six or seven times per round.
“If you are hitting your long irons well off the tee, you’re going to have a good six to eight birdie opportunities,” Spieth said. “But there are just so many other tough holes that par is going to be a fantastic score. I’d sign for even-par right now for 72 holes in June. Obviously, given the history, but also having played it.”
Jordan Spieth on his first look at Oakmont Country Club