No problem, the first hole at Oakmont is only 482 yards long, and NO its not a par five hole. The last 100 yards are straight downhill to a green that slopes severely from front of the green to the back. You can drop a ball 40 yards short of this green, and watch it slowly pick up speed and roll down to and on the green. The tee shot needs to find the fairway, as deep bunkering awaits a tee shot not properly directed on both sides of this 24 yard wide fairway. We chose a driver off the tee, as this is Gregor’s straightest club of distance. The second shot can play down wind, and most certainly downhill. I believe that you need to hit the second shot at least 20 yards short of the actual yardage. This green is extremely fast putting downhill towards the back of the green. This is a very strong opening hole, and should play as one of the tougher holes on the course.
The second hole you’d think would be a birdie hole at only 340 yards long, but once you’ve been on this green, you realize that an average second shot will yield a very difficult putt, and a very difficult two putt. This green has a very severe false front, like most all of the uphill holes at Oakmont. Although the greens today were gauged at 14.8 feet on the stint meter, they still were a bit soft. The tee shot on number two needs to be played down the left side with a 200-220 club, we chose a 4 iron, leaving an uphill 138 shot that required a 9 iron towards the middle of the green. Leaving your second shot somehow below the hole on #2 will make life a lot easier.
The tee shot on the third hole is another demanding test of accuracy, as deep bunkers loop on the right, and the famous church pew bunkers await an errant shot on the left. We again chose a driver off the tee on this uphill par four hole measuring 426 yards. Gregor piped a drive off this tee, leaving him a completely blind shot uphill to a green with again a VERY severe false front. Your second shot needs to land 8 yards onto this green or else your ball will roll many many yards back down the slope. The green is 33 yards long, but with the false front, and a false back, the second shot needs to be very precise here. This green is VERY fast from the left to the right, and I believe a par on this hole will be a good score through the 2016 US Open.
This lone par five on the front measures 609, but plays downhill and usually downwind. A properly placed tee shot will allow the players to go for this green in two shots. THIS will be a fun hole to watch in the open. Again you have the church pews to the left side of the fairway, and many bunkers on the right, but the target line is over the right corner of the bunkers down the right, allowing players to end up in the middle with 270-290 yards left into this green. The second shot is blind over the right corner again, if placed on the proper line, this shot will run down and onto this green. There will be some eagles on this hole!! We saw Jordan Speith hitting some shots from over the green that only went a few feet, as the rough around this green is ridiculously tough!
My first day observation is that the USGA can make this course play as tough as they want. Most all of the holes we played had the tees at the back of the teeing area, I doubt that we’ll play this course all the way back. The USGA does a great job making the course play different each day with great hole variation to challenge the best players in the world. I found the rough to be as tough as any rough I’ve ever seen on a golf course, and certainly longer and thicker than when I played here in the 2003 US Amateur, that yielded only one under par round from 312 of the best amateurs in the world.
Tomorrow we’ll probably only play nine holes, despite being paired with Jason Day, the number one player in the world. I am looking forward to seeing what strategy Jason will employ on these very challenging holes. We go off number 10 tomorrow at 8:57
Tomorrow I will finish the front nine, and give you a sneak preview as to what you might see on the TV coverage later this week.
Live from inside the ropes, “The Cinderella Story”