The First Look: U.S. Open
June 08, 2018
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- June 08, 2018
- The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock Hills for just the fifth time next week.
The U.S. Open returns to historic Shinnecock Hills for just the fifth time and first since 2004’s calamity next week, as Brooks Koepka makes his first major title defense against a lineup headlined by FedExCup leader Justin Thomas and Masters champion Patrick Reed.
Phil Mickelson returns to the Open stage after a one-year layoff to attend his firstborn daughter’s high school graduation, still seeking the elusive title that would complete the career Grand Slam. Tiger Woods also is back for just the second time since 2013, marking the 10-year anniversary of his epic 2008 triumph at Torrey Pines.
Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose, who have combined for 15 victories worldwide in the past 18 months, top a lineup slated to feature each of the top 60 in the world rankings.
Adam Scott is ready for his 68th consecutive major, a streak that was in jeopardy until claiming the last spot in his sectional qualifier. The Aussie hasn’t missed a major since the 2002 U.S. Open.
Six slots remain available for players moving into the world top 60 by Monday and not already qualified. Byeong Hun An, 56th after a playoff loss at the Memorial Tournament, has one locked up.
A total of 19 amateurs currently grace the field, the most since the 1981 edition also featured 19.
Retief Goosen, who out-dueled Mickelson for the 2004 crown at Shinnecock Hills, is absent after failing to advance out of final qualifying.
Winner receives 600 points.
Shinnecock Hills steps back into the Open spotlight, hopeful of a better account than 14 years ago when overnight winds caught USGA officials unprepared to mitigate a Sunday of baked-out greens. The most notable was the No. 7, where tee shots struggled to hold the sloped surface even as the green was watered between groups.
Mickelson, whose collection of Open angst includes two top-5s at Shinnecock Hills, makes his 27th attempt at what’s now the only major missing from his portfolio. He turns 48 during Open week.
Koepka seeks to become the first man to win back-to-back Opens since Curtis Strange in 1988-89. After a four-month layoff to let a nagging wrist injury heal, he tied for 11th at THE PLAYERS Championship and was runner-up to Rose at Fort Worth.
Just six defending Open champions since 1991 have placed higher than 30th in their title defense. Woods did it three times, with a best of sixth at Bethpage in 2009, joined by Goosen (11th, 2005). Graeme McDowell (14th, 2011) and Rose (12th, 2014).
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, 7,440 yards, par 70. The oldest incorporated golf club in the United States, Shinnecock Hills was formed in 1891 and was one of five founding members of the U.S. Golf Association. The Long Island club welcomed the U.S. Open’s second edition in 1896, then endured a 90-year gap before the Open returned in 1986. The Open also held its centennial at Shinnecock Hills in 1995, hosting eight USGA events in all preceding this Open. The current layout dates back to 1931, when William Flynn designed 12 new holes and revamped six originally constructed by Charles Blair McDonald. Shinnecock Hills’ stately clubhouse was built in 1892 and remains essentially the same as then, with the help of a major restoration two years ago.
268, Rory McIlroy (2011 at Congressional CC).
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), Justin Thomas (3rd round, 2017 at Erin Hills).
Koepka paced a pack that bludgeoned Erin Hills like no previous Open venue, claiming his first major crown with a performance that matched Rory McIlroy’s mark for lowest score against par. The Florida native went four days carding nothing worse than a bogey, finishing at 16-under-par 262 for a four-shot romp over Hideki Matsuyama and Brian Harman. It marked just the third time an Open champion had finished in double digits below par, joining McIlroy (2011) and Tiger Woods (2000).
But it wasn’t just Koepka making noise as expected winds laid down. Thomas matched the Open’s 18-hole record with a Saturday 63, and seven players in all finished at 10-under or lower. By comparison, six of the previous 12 Opens finished with nobody under par. Erin Hills’ four-round average of 0.12 above par was the lowest in Open history.
HOW TO FOLLOW
TELEVISION: Thursday, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 1), 4-7:30 p.m. (FOX). Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 1), 4-7:30 p.m. (FOX). Saturday, 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. (FOX). Sunday, 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. (FOX).
LIVE STREAMING (usopen.com)
Thursday: Featured Group channel 1 (Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka; Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm, Rafa Cabrera Bello), 7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. ET. Featured Group channel 2 (Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson; Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods), 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. ET. Featured Holes channel (Nos. 7, 9, 11), 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. ET.
Friday: Featured Group channel 1 (TBA), 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. ET. Featured Group channel 2 (Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods; Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson), 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. ET. Featured Holes channel (Nos. 7, 9, 11), 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. ET.
Saturday: Featured Group channel 1 (TBA), 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. ET. Featured Holes channel (Nos. 7, 9, 11), 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. ET.
Sunday: Featured Group channel 1 (TBA), 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. ET. Featured Holes channel (Nos. 7, 9, 11), 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. ET.
PGA TOUR LIVE: None.
RADIO: Thursday-Sunday, noon-8 p.m. ET (SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio and FOX Sports on SiriusXM).