Punch the words ‘Chambers Bay’ into Google and you’ll get reams of copy from this year’s US Open challengers about how horribly difficult the course, which hosts a senior tournament for the first time, will play this week.
World number one Rory McIlroy, the 7/1 US Open favourite, rather banally stated that the eight-year-old venue ‘will separate the field’, while fellow Northern Irishman and former champion Graeme McDowell (100/1) believes Chambers Bay has the potential to ‘blow you away’.
The pair’s comments are very tame compared to 80/1 Texan Ryan Palmer’s though, who said in April:
“As far as the greens are concerned, it’s not a championship golf course – not with the way some of the greens are and the pin placements they can put out there. [USGA executive director Mike Davis’] idea of tee boxes is ridiculous. That’s not golf. I don’t care what anybody says. It will get a lot of bad press from the players. It is a joke. I don’t understand it. I just don’t know why they would do it.”
Palmer’s not alone. Ian Poulter recently tweeted that reports from fellow pros who have gone round Chambers Bay were “it’s a complete farce”, and Tiger Woods said of the course “I’m only playing nine holes each day in practice because it feels like 18”.
It certainly sounds like this US Open will be in the upper echelon of toughness, which suggests we could be in for the highest winning score for some time, so 8/11 with bwin about that tally totalling more than 279.5 strokes looks bound to land.
McIlroy and defending champion Martin Kaymer tore up regular Major venues Congressional and Pinehurst in 2011 and 2014 respectively, with the former setting a 72-hole US Open record of 268 and to-par record of -16, but the other three renewals since 2010 have been taken by 280-plus aggregates.
In fact, seven of the past ten have seen the winner hit at least 280 shots, when nothing like as much fuss was made in advance, so more of the same must be on the cards in Pierce County.
One man who has been effusive in his praise of Chambers Bay is 14/1 shot Phil Mickelson, a six-time US Open runner-up looking to finally seal a career Grand Slam with victory on the Pacific Coast.
‘Lefty’, who won the 2013 Scottish Open and British Open back-to-back at links courses in 2013, said earlier in the week:
“I think it’s wonderful. It’s not going to be your typical US Open, hit and hack out…You’re going to be able to control it much more like British Opens than I’ve ever seen, where there’s a lot of room and a lot of firm fairway cut.”