In the days leading up to a U.S. Open, most storylines revolve around certain members of the field. While that remains true this year, the tournament's course is generating a good portion of the headlines due to its unique layout.
Chambers Bay has come under fire from some players set to participate in the 2015 U.S. Open due to its links style that features wide fairways, huge greens, an abundance of fescue and few trees. It's unlike any previous U.S. Open course and resembles more of an Open Championship feel.
Phil Mickelson is set to embark on his quest to finally complete the career Grand Slam and win an event in which he's generated six runner-up finishes. Although he made some interesting comments about the track during a press conference, via Bob Harig of ESPN.com:
That's because historically it's not like a normal U.S. Open. It's everything like a British Open. The exact same grasses. I've never seen this type of fescue in the United States. I've never seen greens with fescue grass in the United States.
It plays exactly like the British Open plays. The ball runs like the British, you're hitting the same shots as the British, and so it's like a British Open in the U.S.
Comments like that only add to the intrigue of this year's tournament. Will the American players have a disadvantage against their European counterparts due to the links layout at Chambers Bay? Before we delve into some predictions for the tournament, let's take a view at its full schedule and updated odds.
2015 U.S. Open Schedule
|2015 U.S. Open Schedule|
|Thu., June 18||12-8 p.m. / 8-11 p.m.||FS1 / Fox|
|Fri., June 19||12-8 p.m. / 8-11 p.m.||FS1 / Fox|
|Sat., June 20||2-10 p.m.||Fox|
|Sun., June 21||2-10:30 p.m.||Fox|
Live Stream: USOpen.com
|2015 U.S. Open Odds|
|Byeong Hun An||66-1|
All tournament odds courtesy of Odds Shark.
McIlroy Edges Spieth in Duel
Admit it, this is what we all want to see—an epic duel in the nation's most prestigious tournament between the world's top two players. Neither Rory McIlroy nor Jordan Spieth have been playing their best golf of late, but we know their ability to step up their games on big stages.
Following a victory in the Wells Fargo Championship—his third of the year—McIlroy went on to miss two consecutive cuts in the BMW PGA Championship and Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. However, the world No. 1 remained unfazed when asked about the state of his game and what he was doing to repair it during a press conference, via Maggie Henricks of USA Today:
"I didn't touch a golf club last week. I had played five weeks in a row, and mentally, I was ready to have a little break. I just got away from it, did some other things I enjoy, got back to Florida on Sunday and started to practice."
The Northern Irishman has fared well on links-style courses, and his Open Championship victory at Royal Liverpool last year is a testament to that. Spending part of his time playing on the European Tour, he has plenty of experience and will be able to handle whatever Chambers Bay throws his way. A fifth major title is imminent.
Spieth has been on a roller-coaster ride of late. After missing the cut in The Players Championship, he bounced back to finish tied for second in the Crowne Plaza Invitational. However, a dip in form resulted in a tie for 30th in his hometown tournament, the Byron Nelson. Still, he fought back once more and finished tied for third in the Memorial.
While Spieth's form has fluctuated of late, we should only expect his best in the U.S. Open. This will be his first appearance in a major after having won the Masters, and that should result in a little less pressure for the 21-year-old phenom.
Don't expect Spieth to struggle much at the enigmatic Chambers Bay. He's shown great course management and maturity on tough tracks in the past, and that will result in four solid rounds, which will put him right on the heels of McIlroy.
Lefty Notches a Runner-Up Finish (Again)
Always a bridesmaid but never the bride, Mickelson has never been able to complete the career Grand Slam by winning a U.S. Open, instead placing second a total of six times. Well, that trend will continue this year, as Lefty is set up for a solid run at Chambers Bay.
So why will Mickelson flourish on a course he openly criticized? Well, it's simple: Because it's not a traditional U.S. Open course.
Lefty has always struggled in U.S. Opens because of his gunslinger attitude on the tee. He makes the big mistake we all know is coming, and it costs him the tournament. Due to the open nature of Open Championship-esque courses like Chambers Bay, his risk lessens slightly.
Mickelson's form has fluctuated of late, but he enters the U.S. Open after a Sunday 65 propelled him up the leaderboard to finish tied for third in the FedEx St. Jude Classic. With that bit of momentum on his side and his ability to play his best golf in majors—he did finish tied for second in the Masters this year—expect Lefty to be in the mix during final-round action once more.
Tiger Makes Cut
In the past, Tiger Woods making a cut wouldn't make headlines—it would be expected. These days, not so much. The former world No. 1 has struggled with his swing, and injuries and issues in his personal life have plagued him, resulting in an enormous fall from grace. He now ranks just 195th in the world—the lowest he's been since 1996.
While those woes continue to plague Woods, there are two things that have always seemed to allow him to flourish—major tournaments and links courses. Like Mickelson, Woods has always come up big in majors, and his erratic driver isn't quite as troublesome on the spacious layout.
Let's take the 2014 Open Championship as an example here. Upon entering the tournament, Woods was struggling badly with nagging injuries and took 16 weeks off from competitive golf. He returned to action three weeks prior to the tournament in the Quicken Loans National, but he missed the cut after posting a 74 and 75.
Despite his lack of form, Woods made the trip to Royal Liverpool and posted an opening-round 69. He followed that up with three rounds in the 70s, but the fact that he was able to elevate his game instantaneously in that tournament bodes well for his chances to play over the weekend at Chambers Bay.