The 2014 U.S. Open makes a grand return to Pinehurst Resort in the Sandhills of North Carolina. The event will play out on the famed No. 2 course for the first time since 2005, and the course will feature a new look for the tournament's participants this time around.
According to ESPN.com's Farrell Evans, the famous course has been restored to more closely resemble the original vision of architect Donald Ross. The new look will provide golfers with a whole new set of sight lines. Via Evans:
Aesthetically, No. 2 will look strikingly different from its previous incarnations in the 1999 and 2005 U.S. Opens. Before the restoration, there was not much visual distinction from the fairways to the rough. It was just a sea of Bermuda grass. Now the sandy wiregrass areas produce a profound break from fairway to rough, bringing back the natural look that Ross combed from this Sandhills region of North Carolina.
How these changes will affect the golfers familiar with the old course remains to be seen, but it should add another level of excitement to this year's championship.
Tiger Woods will be absent from the U.S. Open due to a back injury, but the star-studded field still provides plenty of intrigue for golf fans around the world.
Here is a look at the latest odds and top players to watch heading into golf's second major of the year.
|U.S. Open 2014 Odds|
(Odds courtesy of VegasInsider.com and updated as of Monday, June 9.)
Top Players To Watch
The No. 1 player in the world is no stranger to success these days. Scott cemented his ranking at the pinnacle of golf with a victory at the Crowne Plaza Invitational in May and by tying for fourth at the Memorial Tournament. He's off to a good start since dethroning Woods as the highest-ranked player on the planet.
Scott is a veteran member of the tour and does have the luxury of having played at Pinehurst Resort in the past, although the renovations will make for a decidedly unique playing experience.
Then again, the renovations could be a good omen for Scott, because if there is one event that consistently flummoxes the patient Aussie, it is the U.S. Open. His best result at this event is a tie for 15th in 2012.
The tough grouping won't help Scott leap the mental obstacles that bar him from succeeding at this event.
Scott will have to put his 27th-ranked driving distance to good use this weekend in order to get himself into favorable positions on the fairway and keep pace with the other top players in the event. The 2013 Masters is Scott's only win in a PGA Tour major, but his driving power and strong approach to reading greens guarantees he will be near the top of the heap this weekend.
Jordan Spieth is a young talent with a knack for coming up with big shots when he needs them.
He's fifth in the FedEx Cup standings for 2014, thanks to six top-10 finishes in 17 total events this year. He hasn't played his best golf as of late—his best finish is 14th place in his last three tournaments—but the young Texan saves his best performances for the bigger tournaments.
A tie for second place at the 2014 Masters and a tie for fourth at The Players Championship this year has turned Spieth into one of the hottest young professionals in golf. The aura of the U.S. Open won't faze this golfer anytime soon.
Spieth is new to Pinehurst Resort, and he made sure to gather some intel on the course before the big test this weekend.
"I've heard it will be similar to Augusta, more of a second-shot golf course," Spieth told Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune. "There's no rough, so that means the greens will really be tricked out."
The 20-year-old wunderkind will have to keep his nerve if he wants to succeed this weekend. U.S. Opens are known for long, wide fairways, a difficult obstacle for a player with the 96th-ranked driving distance on the tour. Spieth will have to make sensible approaches to the turtleback greens and make up strokes with his considerable putting game.