So, the US Open has rolled round again.
In the coming few days, we’ll hear many comments pertaining to the difficulty of the tournament. Invariably, some will claim the course is simply too tough, and declare the tournament to be unfair.
There can be no disputing that, aside from the Open in torrid conditions, the US Open represents the hardest four days in the professional golfing calendar.
Mike Davis, the USGA’s Executive Director, always ensures the rough is penal, the fairways are narrow and the greens are lighting fast. Merion Golf Club will be no exception.
Last year, many players echoed the sentiments of Bubba Watson, who said he felt “beaten up” by San Francisco’s Olympic Club.
Rory McIlroy, after shooting 10 over and missing the cut by two shots, added: “It’s a reminder that golf doesn’t always come easy.”
Exactly, Rory. That is the essence of the US Open and everything it stands for. And why should it be made easier?
Every week, you turn on the television to see the game’s best firing at pins, making a plethora of birdies and, more often than not, shooting in double figures under par.
Yes, that is hugely entertaining for the golf fan. But what some fail to grasp is that entertainment isn’t solely confined to watching players making birdies.
Most of us love to see the world’s best put through an exacting test; to demonstrate they are in control of every aspect of their game and show why they have reached the summit of the professional game.
It’s enthralling viewing, and most of the players welcome the challenge. Granted, it isn’t as fluid to watch, but the US Open takes place once a year, and it should present a different challenge.
The tournament is a genuine test of golfing aptitude, and many amateurs take great joy in watching professionals toil. The part-time golf viewer may be slightly discouraged, but they can enjoy birdie-fuelled golf any other week.
Most professionals enjoy the challenge of the US Open, too. They recognise it is refreshing to play a course that simply cannot be overpowered; a tournament where par is an excellent score; an event where they really have to earn their money.
If you win the US Open, no on can say you got lucky, or didn’t deserve the title – the way a major should be. And, it’s the same test for all involved, so how can it be unfair when success or failure is relative to everyone else in the field?