The U.S. Open starts this Thursday at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania. The course has been described my many of the world's leading players as the toughest in the world.
22-year-old Jordan Spieth will be making his first visit as he attempts to defend the U.S. Open crown he won at Chambers Bay last year. We examine what he and the rest of the field will be up against, including over 200 bunkers, scarily narrow fairways and greens that will run over 14 on the Stimpmeter...
Oakmont has hosted the U.S. Open eight times – more than any other club. Jordan Spieth defends the title from June 16-19.
In 1962, Jack Nicklaus won his first Major title at the Pennsylvania course, beating Arnold Palmer in an 18-hole play-off.
Oakmont’s past winners are Tommy Armour (1927), Sam Parks Jnr (1935), Ben Hogan (1953), Nicklaus (1962), Johnny Miller (1973), Larry Nelson (1983), Ernie Els (1994) and Angel Cabrera (2007).
Miller’s closing eight-under par round of 63 in 1973 was the lowest ever recorded in US Open history.
The entire field broke par just eight times during all four days in 2007.
The course is par 70 but stretches 7,255 yards. There are only two par 5s, both more than 600 yards.
The tees are fashioned from World War II surplus ammunition. They have a unique bullet shape.
The first fairway is just 24 yards wide, with out of bounds down the right. Els and Miller say it’s golf’s "hardest" opening tee shot.
It has no water hazards, but 210 bunkers!
The Church Pews bunker measures 100-by-40 yards and comes into play on the 3rd and 4th.
The par-3 8th is 288 yards on the card, but can stretch to 310 yards. Under club and the 'Sahara' bunker is at the green’s front.
The ninth green also serves as a practice green. Blue stakes and signs indicate where players can practise before rounds.
The greens will measure between 14 and 14.5 on the stimpmeter, according to Oakmont’s Head Pro Bob Ford.
Birdies are hard to come by. "Apart from the two par 5s and a scoreable stretch from 11-14, the US mentality is that par constitutes a good score," Ford told TG.
"The course is set up perfectly for people who find the fairway, like a Zach Johnson or a Matt Kuchar," says Ford. "The pot bunkers are incredibly steep and even though the rough is graduated, it’s still very tough to get out of."
Defending champ Spieth hasn’t played Oakmont before, which makes bouncing back from the Masters more tricky. But does he stand a chance? Ford seems to think so. "I’d put my money on him."
Gene Sarazen once described Oakmont as possessing "all the charm of a sock to the head".
"The players will beg for rain," says Ford. "If it’s dry and benign, the winning score will be around five-over – the same as ’07. But if it is soft, it could be two or three-under par."