Junior Golf: The U. S. Open

In today’s Wednesday Waggle we will look at the 2nd men’s major tournament of 2016 which starts tomorrow. This is often referred to as The United States National Championship. We are talking about, of course, the men’s U.S. Open Golf Championship. (photo golfdigest.com)img_0102

Oakmont Country Club Western Pennsylvania is the site and this course is regarded as the toughest course that PGA players have ever competed on. So what is an Open event? It’s pretty straightforward as the event is open to professionals and amateurs as long as they meet the requirements. Playing in a U.S. Open is a big deal, a dream for any serious golfer. Ways to qualify include various rankings in the PGA Tour, special amateur wins and certain international wins. There are also qualifiers where a GHIN (golf handicap index) of 1.4 or less enables you to submit your entry a. The good news is that this largest field in golf, 156 entries, has 80 players from sectional qualifiers. This is great stuff, but keep in mind that more than 10,000 guys enter the sectionals to go after these 80 available spots. You must play great to earn a spot in the qualifiers.

Now, if your young man makes it to the actual tournament the fun really begins. Phil Mickelson said that Oakmont is probably the toughest course the PGA has ever played. Folks, that’s an intimidating statement! The greens are faster than any the pros have seen. The fairways have a bunch of slope, so keeping a tee shot in play is very difficult. The 1st cut of the rough is moderate, read-perhaps a chance to hit the green and the 2nd cut is just brutal leaving the bat players in the world virtually no chance of getting on the green. The traps have a huge amount of new soft sand added to them, so hitting the ball from a trap is more of an advancing shot, rather than potential scoring shot. Oh, and the greens have tremendous undulations. (photo ococean.com)image

To be fair, the USGA intends for this event to be the most mentally and physically demanding golf event anywhere. And they accomplish it! It is certainly possible for them to set up the course as a fair, albeit very tough test and hopefully this is what is done. For example, have you ever heard the term, U. S. Open rough? Usually this refers to long, deep and difficult to sometimes find and play the ball out of and it’s a tradition at this tournament. Well, that’s what you’ll see if a ball gets into the 2nd cut this week at Oakmont.

TV coverage is on Fox and after their disastrous broadcasting last year, they have upped their announcing crew by adding Paul Azinger, who has a great golf IQ and is quite knowledgeable and interesting to listen to. I’m excited to hear him as Paul always gives genuine golf nuggets that should be written down or at least noted. So tomorrow’s TV runs from 9am-4pm, central time on FS1, same on Friday, then at 4pm those days it switches to regular Fox until 7pm. Saturday and Sunday it’s 10am-6pm, central time, all on your regular Fox channel. Set those Tivos because this will be great stuff! And playoffs in the U. S. Open are 18-holes played the next day following completion of the standard 72-holes, Monday.

See you on #1 tee looking ready for tough rough… Sam

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