The hardest test in golf is back again, and Golf Monthly previews which players may have a statistical edge in the US Open at Pinehurst
The US Open is well known as annually one of the toughest tests in golf, but following a significant course redesign of Pinehurst No. 2, no one knows quite to expect.
Recent winners of the US Open have upheld the view that accurate players with sharp short-games have the most success at this tournament. However, this may be the year that gives an advantage to the big hitters.
Rory McIlroy, whom many are picking as a favourite in the US Open, was quoted as saying that he is very excited about the open spaces and absence of significant deep rough on the course. McIlroy has had a resurgent year, although he is fighting a nagging knee injury. Currently sitting eighth in driving distance, McIlroy could have a great advantage on the new Pinehurst if he is healthy and feeling good.
Adam Scott would love to solidify his recent promotion to the top-rated player in the world with a victory at Pinehurst. Accurate driving will be important on an uncharacteristically long course for the US Open, and Scott ranks second in total driving this season.
Pinehurst’s renovations widened the fairways by 50 percent, essentially removing any real rough from the course. However, they are much firmer, which will cause balls to roll into sand, wire grasses and pine straw.
Scrambling and creativity could be of the upmost importance, and Jim Furyk currently sits first in scrambling overall. Matt Kuchar sits sixth in the same category, as he looks for his first major victory.
Bubba Watson, looking for back-to-back major victories, will enjoy the changes made to Pinehurst, favoring his distance. He also sits at seventh in greens in regulation. If he is going to win a US Open, his chances are never going to be better than at Pinehurst.
Graeme McDowell has shown before that his game is perfectly equipped for the US Open style. He currently sits eighth in driving accuracy, fifth in strokes gained putting and 20th in greens in regulation. He should be able to take advantage of the quick fairways, and it would not be any surprise to see him in the final few pairings on Sunday.
Pinehurst has given the golfing world two of the most memorable US Opens in recent history. With story lines abound, we will have to wait and see if the new Pinehurst No. 2 upholds the conviction that meticulous accuracy is required to win the US Open, or if a different style of player can take advantage of the new design.