Venerable Shinnecock Hills will be a stern test at U.S. Open

6/13/2018 8:09:06 PM EST

If it seems like the whole focus of this year's U.S. Open at venerable Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southhampton, N.Y. is making sure things go off without a hitch, well, there's a reason for that.

The last time the national championship of American golf was played at this venue, in 2004, brutal, unfair conditions led to an average final-round score of 78.7 and no players under par.

The famous par-3 seventh took its pound of flesh from the players and was nearly unplayable because of, according to the United States Golf Association (USGA), a "perfect storm" of wind, sun, hole location and the accidental rolling of the green prior to the third round.

Shinnecock Hills is one of the five founding clubs of the USGA back in 1894.The second-ever U.S. Open was held at this venue in 1896, but 90 years went by before it hosted again.

The 2010 U.S. Open champion, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, said the USGA's "line" for fairness of a golf course under national championship competition starts and finishes on the greens.

"I watched the coverage of 2004's final round on television and the greens looked to be about a foot too quick," McDowell explained. "That was the root of the problem. And that is the most important line. It is architecture versus agronomy. When you have old-school architecture mixed with modern agronomy it can lead to trouble."

After seeing players dominate the long and wide Erin Hills in Wisconsin in last year's U.S. Open, the USGA ordered a fairway narrowing at Shinnecock Hills in the fall of 2017.

The greens that were tough in 2004 are still going to be a challenge, but there are better course-management tools in place to make sure that what happened in 2004 won't happen this time around.

The starting field of 156 golfers will be cut after 36 holes to the low 60 scorers (and ties). In the event of a tie after 72 holes, a two-hole aggregate playoff will take place following the completion of Sunday's final round - it's the first year that this tiebreaker has been employed by the USGA.

This is the fifth U.S. Open hosted by Shinnecock Hills, which will be set up at 7,440 yards and will play to a par of 35-35-70. The yardage for each round of the championship will vary due to course setup and conditions.

The former champions are James Foulis in 1896, Raymond Floyd in 1986, Corey Pavin in 1995 and South African Retief Goosen in 2004.

The 1986 edition was held on a completely revamped course. Floyd, at age 43, entered the final round three shots behind and shot a 66 in difficult scoring conditions to win his fourth major. Conditions were similar in 1995, with no one under par. Pavin played the final 10 holes in three-under-par on the way to a 68 and the win.

Then in 2004, with the final round of the championship being conducted in dry and breezy conditions that made some of the putting surfaces all but unplayable, Goosen birdied the 16th hole while Phil Mickelson double-bogeyed the par-3 17th. Goosen won by two strokes and claimed his second U.S. Open title.

Mickelson will be playing in his 27th U.S. Open, the most of any player in the field. This event is the only one of the four majors that has eluded him.

"This is certainly one of my favorite courses," Mickelson said. "It's the best setup, in my opinion, that we've seen, and the reason I say that is all areas of your game are being tested. There are some birdie holes. There's some really hard pars. There's some fairways that are easy to hit, fairways that are tough to hit.

"The chipping and short game around the greens are going to be a huge factor this week," Mickelson added. "The challenge of the greens being extended and all the contours will continue to take balls further from the hole. You end up in fairway and have a shot, albeit a difficult one."

The 2017 purse was $12 million, with Brooks Koepka, the winner, earning $2.16 million. This year's total purse and earning breakdown will be released after the event.

Koepka said he sees the challenges at this year's U.S. Open in the same way he saw it last year at Erin Hills, and that he would play the two courses in a similar fashion.

"The fairways are obviously not as wide, but I think the fairways out here are pretty generous," Koepka said. "Like Erin Hills, it's a second shot golf course. That's how I see it. I feel like you've got to position your iron play, put it in the right spots, put it below the hole, things like that.

"And to be honest with you, if it keeps firming up the way it has over the last two days, it could be a little links style too. I could see that. Pitching just short of the green, running up, things like that."

Among the benefits enjoyed by the U.S. Open winner are: an exemption into this event for the next 10 years; an invitation to the other three majors (the Masters Tournament, the Open Championship, and the PGA Championship) for the next five years as well as to the next five Players Championships; and exempt status on the PGA Tour for five years.

The top 10 finishers (and ties) are exempt for the following year's U.S. Open while the top four finishers (and ties) are invited to next year's Masters Tournament.

Three-time U.S. Open winner Tiger Woods will play in the event for the first time since 2015. He said the course at Shinnecock Hills has changed plenty since 2004.

"From the two times I've played it previously, it's a lot longer," Woods said. "The fairways seem to be about twice as wide. It's a very different -- very different test, very different look. So many of the trees are gone.

"When I played here in '95 and '04, you know, we had that six-inch, four- to six-inch high rough right off the greens," Woods added. "It was a very different type of setup. This is very different. Balls run off much further around these greens, and that gives the players so many different options to choose from. It doesn't just have to be a high towering shot. We can utilize the ground and have that be an ally."

Woods hasn't won a major in 10 years since prevailing in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines when he outlasted Rocco Mediate in a famous 91-hole battle.

--Field Level Media

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Thu, 21 Jun 2018 23:13:52 EST Senators GM says locker room was 'broken' before trade
Thu, 21 Jun 2018 20:36:46 EST NHL notebook: Cup-winning Trotz named Isles coach
Thu, 21 Jun 2018 19:46:08 EST NHL releases 2018-19 schedule, including two outdoor games
Thu, 21 Jun 2018 19:17:00 EST NHL sets salary cap for 2018-19, tabs $4.5M increase
Thu, 21 Jun 2018 20:04:04 EST Blackhawks' Crawford expected back to start season
Thu, 21 Jun 2018 21:08:58 EST Islanders name Trotz as head coach
Thu, 21 Jun 2018 01:35:56 EST Ovechkin, Backstrom disappointed to see Trotz leave Caps
Wed, 20 Jun 2018 21:46:43 EST NHL salary cap expected to increase by $5M
Wed, 20 Jun 2018 23:04:01 EST NHL awards: Hall claims Hart Trophy
Wed, 20 Jun 2018 20:58:08 EST NHL notebook: Caps to raise banner Oct. 3
Wed, 20 Jun 2018 17:22:43 EST Maple Leafs sign Carrick, Pickard to one-year deals
Wed, 20 Jun 2018 15:15:57 EST Caps will open NHL season, raise banner Oct. 3 vs. Bruins
Wed, 20 Jun 2018 11:10:14 EST Report: Predators' Watson faces domestic assault charge
Tue, 19 Jun 2018 22:47:44 EST NHL notebook: Facing scrutiny, Hoffman traded twice in one day

WTA Stories

Fri, 22 Jun 2018 14:19:39 EST WTA roundup: American teen Kenin gets signature win of career
Thu, 21 Jun 2018 16:17:20 EST WTA roundup: Strycova upsets Muguruza at Birmingham
Wed, 20 Jun 2018 14:45:41 EST WTA roundup: Svitolina into Nature Valley quarters
Tue, 19 Jun 2018 17:46:49 EST WTA roundup: Kvitova downs Konta at Birmingham
Mon, 18 Jun 2018 17:48:38 EST WTA roundup: Rybarikova tops Pliskova at Birmingham in Wimbledon rematch
Sun, 17 Jun 2018 12:50:49 EST WTA roundup: Krunic rallies again to capture first title
Sat, 16 Jun 2018 15:55:53 EST WTA roundup: Krunic stuns top-seeded Vandeweghe in semis
Fri, 15 Jun 2018 12:13:44 EST WTA roundup: Vandeweghe survives to reach Libema semis
Thu, 14 Jun 2018 16:16:08 EST WTA roundup: Barty, Konta advance to Nottingham quarters
Wed, 13 Jun 2018 15:53:51 EST WTA Roundup: Vandeweghe reaches quarters at Libema Open
Tue, 12 Jun 2018 16:57:48 EST WTA roundup: Pair of top-5 seeds swept out early in Libema Open
Mon, 11 Jun 2018 14:49:50 EST WTA roundup: Rybarikova, Osaka need three sets to survive at Nottingham
Sat, 09 Jun 2018 11:40:16 EST Halep rallies past Stephens for first Grand Slam title
Thu, 07 Jun 2018 14:27:18 EST Halep, Stephens earn spots in French Open final
Wed, 06 Jun 2018 11:00:34 EST Muguruza rolls over Sharapova into French Open semis
Tue, 05 Jun 2018 12:22:26 EST Stephens, Keys win to set up All-American semis at French Open
Tue, 05 Jun 2018 10:56:29 EST Serena Williams 'super excited' after doctor visit
Mon, 04 Jun 2018 15:45:43 EST No. 2 Wozniacki bounced by Kasatkina
Mon, 04 Jun 2018 10:03:34 EST Serena Williams withdraws from French Open with pectoral injury
Sun, 03 Jun 2018 14:24:44 EST Williams sisters eliminated in French Open doubles

LPGA Stories

Fri, 22 Jun 2018 21:52:14 EST Winless Lopez on top in Arkansas
Sun, 17 Jun 2018 18:19:37 EST Ryu prevails at Meijer LPGA Classic for sixth career win
Sat, 16 Jun 2018 19:11:23 EST Pace, Nordqvist grab share of lead at Meijer LPGA Classic
Fri, 15 Jun 2018 20:24:26 EST Ryu seizes control of lead at Meijer LPGA Classic
Thu, 14 Jun 2018 20:13:16 EST Shon, Ryu share lead at Meijer LPGA Classic
Sun, 10 Jun 2018 20:07:41 EST Annie Park shoots 63 to claim first LPGA Tour victory
Sat, 09 Jun 2018 21:27:23 EST Herbin, Kim share ShopRite lead with Round 2 suspended
Fri, 08 Jun 2018 19:27:53 EST Diaz, 43, part of 3-way tie for ShopRite lead
Sun, 03 Jun 2018 21:21:08 EST Jutanugarn recovers to win U.S. Women's Open in playoff
Fri, 01 Jun 2018 21:28:57 EST Smith in control at U.S. Women's Open as rain suspends play
Thu, 31 May 2018 21:31:43 EST Jutanugarn among three atop U.S. Women's Open
Thu, 31 May 2018 14:25:19 EST Ariya Jutanugarn (67) grabs early lead at U.S. Women's Open
Wed, 30 May 2018 13:49:54 EST 13-year-old alternate Pano bails on U.S. Women's Open
Wed, 30 May 2018 12:49:02 EST USGA: Ball played as it lies at soaked U.S. Women's Open
Sun, 27 May 2018 20:15:54 EST Lee earns 4th LPGA win on 22nd birthday
Sat, 26 May 2018 23:29:22 EST Lee surges to two-stroke lead at Volvik Championship
Fri, 25 May 2018 21:25:16 EST Hataoka takes one-shot lead at Volvik Championship
Thu, 24 May 2018 20:14:48 EST Four tied for lead at Volvik Championship
Thu, 24 May 2018 02:27:16 EST LPGA announces new South Korean event
Tue, 22 May 2018 17:07:45 EST LPGA legend Mann dies at 77

WNCAAB Stories

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 15:42:54 EST Former Tennessee great Charles-Furlow dead at 49
Fri, 06 Apr 2018 23:51:39 EST South Carolina's Wilson earns Wooden Award
Mon, 02 Apr 2018 15:50:53 EST UConn's Stevens skipping final season, entering WNBA draft
Sun, 01 Apr 2018 21:15:27 EST Easter stunner: Irish win title on last-second 3-pointer
Sat, 31 Mar 2018 18:07:32 EST South Carolina's Wilson wins Naismith player of year
Sat, 31 Mar 2018 00:26:56 EST Ogunbowale's shot lifts Notre Dame over UConn in OT thriller
Fri, 30 Mar 2018 21:46:41 EST Mississippi State outlasts Louisville in OT to advance to national championship
Mon, 26 Mar 2018 23:16:06 EST Notre Dame downs Oregon to charge into Final Four
Mon, 26 Mar 2018 23:01:32 EST UConn routs defending champion South Carolina to reach Final Four
Sun, 25 Mar 2018 21:57:47 EST McCowan, Mississippi State outmuscle UCLA to reach Final Four
Sun, 25 Mar 2018 22:04:33 EST Durr scores 18 as Louisville romps into Final Four
Sat, 24 Mar 2018 20:46:48 EST Oregon cruises past Central Michigan to advance to Elite Eight
Sat, 24 Mar 2018 21:11:38 EST Notre Dame edges Texas A&M to make Elite Eight
Sat, 24 Mar 2018 20:52:26 EST Collier paces top-seeded UConn in win over Duke
Sat, 24 Mar 2018 20:57:12 EST No. 2 seed South Carolina pulls away late to top Buffalo
Sat, 24 Mar 2018 00:34:21 EST NCAA women's roundup: Oregon State stuns Baylor
Fri, 23 Mar 2018 23:54:01 EST Louisville overpowers Stanford in regional semis
Fri, 23 Mar 2018 23:40:30 EST UCLA edges Texas to reach Elite Eight
Fri, 23 Mar 2018 23:42:57 EST Oregon State ends Baylor's 30-game winning streak in Sweet 16 upset
Fri, 23 Mar 2018 23:19:07 EST Mississippi State cruises past NC State to advance to Elite Eight

USA Stories

Tue, 19 Jun 2018 16:16:19 EST Report: NFL invited to testify at congressional hearing on sports betting
Mon, 11 Jun 2018 23:10:39 EST Drag racing legend Tom 'The Mongoose' McEwen dead at 81
Mon, 11 Jun 2018 22:49:22 EST Bode Miller's 19-month-old daughter drowns
Mon, 11 Jun 2018 17:10:47 EST N.J. governor signs sports betting into law, wagering to begin Thursday
Sun, 10 Jun 2018 13:25:55 EST Justify expected to race rest of 2018
Sun, 10 Jun 2018 01:43:26 EST Report: Justify worth record $75M value
Sat, 09 Jun 2018 19:34:13 EST Justify wins Belmont Stakes, becomes 13th Triple Crown winner
Fri, 08 Jun 2018 13:35:45 EST Justify has 'smooth' final workout ahead of Belmont
Thu, 07 Jun 2018 22:43:04 EST Sports betting bills sent to N.J. governor for approval
Thu, 07 Jun 2018 16:21:10 EST Justify roaring and ready to claim Triple Crown at Belmont Stakes
Thu, 07 Jun 2018 14:03:16 EST Justify impresses in gallop at Belmont Park
Wed, 06 Jun 2018 19:07:05 EST Delaware receives $322K in bets on first day
Wed, 06 Jun 2018 18:07:29 EST Triple Crown hopeful Justify arrives in New York
Tue, 05 Jun 2018 23:01:36 EST WCWS: Florida State sweeps for 1st NCAA title
Tue, 05 Jun 2018 21:28:58 EST Ex-USA Gymnastics CEO pleads 5th at Senate hearing
Tue, 05 Jun 2018 18:51:23 EST Justify seeking Triple Crown from No. 1 post at Belmont
Tue, 05 Jun 2018 10:40:30 EST XFL hires Oliver Luck as commissioner
Mon, 04 Jun 2018 22:10:44 EST WCWS: Seminoles blank Huskies, take 1-0 finals lead
Sun, 03 Jun 2018 21:50:04 EST WCWS: Washington, Florida State reach title series
Fri, 01 Jun 2018 00:43:24 EST WCWS: Oregon routs Arizona State in opener

INDY Stories

Sun, 27 May 2018 17:54:42 EST Power finally claims elusive Indy 500 victory
Sun, 27 May 2018 17:40:48 EST Patrick crashes out of final Indy 500