Oak­mont makes for a tough Open

The many sand bunkers are bound to be a chal­lenge for the play­ers on a course that could make even the most com­pe­tent golfer loathe the game

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

When the play­ers take part in the US Open at Oak­mont Coun­try Club in Pennsylvania on Thurs­day, not only will they com­pete against one another, they will also have to grap­ple with the dif­fi­cult na­ture of the course.

Un­like many other venues that have pre­vi­ously hosted the world’s sec­ond ma­jor, Oak­land is unique in that it has vir­tu­ally no wa­ter haz­ards and, since 2007, al­most no trees.

But what is con­spic­u­ous on the course is its many bunkers. They give golfers a hard time, as they find it hard to ex­e­cute shots out of the sand. This will again be the case when com­pe­ti­tion gets into full swing.

The last time the Open came to the venue was in 2007, when Ar­gen­tinian Án­gel Cabr­era strug­gled be­fore beat­ing Amer­i­cans Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods by one stroke – scor­ing five over-par for a to­tal of 279.

So atro­cious was the course that birdies were rarely reg­is­tered on the day. The same sce­nario could play it­self out this time around.

To give golfers some­thing to whinge about, holes two, six, nine and 15 will be there to take the stuff­ing out of the com­peti­tors (see graphic). Th­ese holes have to be ap­proached skil­fully as the greens

The course is noted for its slope. In par­tic­u­lar, on holes one, three, 10 and 12, the greens pitch away from the fair­way – mak­ing top-class com­peti­tors look am­a­teur­ish.

All eyes will be on de­fend­ing cham­pion Jor­dan Spi­eth to see if he can hold onto his ti­tle.

The Amer­i­can reg­is­tered un­der­par five for 275 at Cham­bers Bay, Washington, last year.

South Africa’s dou­ble win­ners, Ernie Els (1994 and 1997) and Retief Goosen (2001 and 2004), should be look­ing for­ward to show­ing the Oak­mont gal­leries what they are made of. They will be joined by coun­try­men Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Bran­den Grace and Jaco van Zyl.

With the cream of the crop show­cas­ing their skills to show who can beat the greens, it will be in­ter­est­ing to note how many birdies and ea­gles will be writ­ten onto the Oak­mont leader board.

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