Mention Cherry Hills Country Club to any avid golf fan and the 1960 U.S. Open will spring to mind. At least it better! It served as host to Arnold Palmer's lone victory in the major. He began the final round seven strokes off the lead, closed with 65 and won by two (at 4-under 280). A 20-year-old amateur named Jack Nicklaus finished alone in second place and was the only golfer without an over-par round all week. Ben Hogan, 48, tied for ninth in what would be his last of 15 top 10s in the championship.
That nexus of supreme talents is right up there among the hallmarks in the history of golf, but Cherry Hills went on to host another U.S. Open in 1978, its third. The William Flynn design (renovated by Tom Doak in 2008) south of Denver and a mile above sea level has also been the site of two PGA Championships, the latter in 1985. More recently, the U.S. Amateur was contested twice on the classic parkland track. Phil Mickelson won the 1990 edition and returns for this week's BMW Championship. Fellow PGA TOUR winners Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama participated in the 2012 U.S. Amateur. Both are seeking revenge as Spieth was bounced in the first round of match play while Matsuyama failed to survive the stroke-play qualifier.
The 2009 Palmer Cup was held at Cherry Hills. The U.S. collegians lost to their counterparts from Europe, but the experience could come in handy for BMW entrants Cameron Tringale and Morgan Hoffmann, both members of that squad.
Cherry Hills will play as a par 34-36=70 and measure 7,352 yards from the tips. Both par fives are on the inward side. No. 11 could stretch 632 yards, but the 17th is the potential difference-maker. While only 555 yards, cross bunkers and an island green will force precision off the tee. Overall, greens average just 4,700 square feet and will be prepped to run 11.5 on the Stimpmeter. Included, of course, in the memory of Palmer's seminal title is his drive of the 346-yard, par-4 first hole to set the tone for the comeback. No. 1 reads 346 yards on the card again this week.
Back in May, BMW extended its title sponsorship of the third leg of the FedExCup Playoffs through 2019. The top 30 in points at the conclusion of the no-cut event in Colorado will advance to the finale at East Lake in Atlanta next week.
Weather along the Front Range is often unpredictable, but temperatures are expected to rise well into the 70s all week. Moderate winds are forecast. A reasonable threat of inclement weather enters the picture on Friday and lingers into the weekend.
POWER RANKINGS: BMW CHAMPIONSHIP
1 Jason Day 2 Rory McIlroy 3 Adam Scott 4 Sergio Garcia 5 Jim Furyk 6 Justin Rose 7 Jimmy Walker 8 Matt Kuchar 9 Zach Johnson 10 Bill Haas 11 Rickie Fowler 12 Henrik Stenson 13 John Senden 14 Chris Kirk 15 Webb Simpson 16 Hunter Mahan 17 Keegan Bradley 18 Geoff Ogilvy 19 Kevin Stadler 20 Hideki Matsuyama