Know one re­ally knows what to ex­pect at the U.S. Open site, but al­most all agree it will be spec­tac­u­lar . . . and pun­ish­ing

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - BILL DWYRE

UNIVER­SITY PLACE, Wash. — There is a rea­son they felt safe hold­ing the U.S. Open golf tour­na­ment here. There are many moun­taineers who live in the state of Washington.

The 115th edi­tion of this ma­jor golf event will be­gin Thurs­day, over a Cham­bers Bay course that rests along Puget Sound just west of Ta­coma and is a re­claimed min­ing prop­erty. It is also un­like any­thing the sport has seen be­fore.

There are more funky mounds than the sur­face of the moon. It is loosely tossed into the cat­e­gory of a links course, but there are few links cour­ses where the el­e­va­tion varies by 300 feet.

One cad­die put the 18-hole mileage at 7 1⁄2 miles. Seven-time PGA Tour win­ner Brandt Snedeker mea­sured his prac­tice trek at 10 miles. The only flat lie will be in the scorer’s tent. There are so many ups and downs that the only sure bet for tour­na­ment of­fi­cials is to make sure their walk­ing scor­ers and plac­ard-hold­ers have been to the base camp of Mt. Ever­est at least once.

The course lumps and bumps over about 7,500 yards of green, brown and yel­low. If you throw in Tiger Woods’ Sun­day red and Rickie Fowler’s bright or­ange, you have a full box of crayons.

Play­ers used to shoot­ing 10 un­der par in tour­na­ments are keep­ing a stiff up­per lip. Most know what is com­ing, and it isn’t 10 un­der par. Woods joked that he had talked to fel­low pro Pa­trick Reed, who played here in the 2010 U.S. Am­a­teur.

Part of the tour­na­ment was match play.

“He said he took a nine on the first hole,” Woods said. “He also said he won the hole.”

Dur­ing a prac­tice round Wed­nes­day, with the pin way back on the 18th green, one player tried to make his putt from 20 feet be­low the hole by hit­ting it 20 feet above and hop­ing it would fall back down into the cup. He missed by a foot left.

Most greens are the size of small yachts. Vi­su­al­ize those you play at home, then mul­ti­ply by seven. This could be the week you see grown men danc­ing in cel­e­bra­tion over three-putts. Cad­dies may feel safe wait­ing un­til the sec­ond putt to re­move the pin.

The view from the 18th is spec­tac­u­lar. There are 6,000 bleacher seats there, ris­ing sev­eral sto­ries above the huge green, and fans who are smart will perch there all day and watch the lit­tle specks mak­ing their way up the dis­tant fair­way. When they get to the green, they are still medium specks from the bleach­ers above.

From that van­tage point, fans can look left all the way down to Puget Sound, and, on the kind of clear days weath­er­men say the tour­na­ment will have, all the way to Mt. Olym­pus. From that same van­tage point, golfers can watch their planes land­ing on fi­nal ap­proach to Seat­tle to take them home af­ter shoot­ing 83.

This might end up be­ing the first tour­na­ment ever where, in­stead of an­nounc­ing golfers’ names and home­towns on the first tee, they just hand them a blind­fold and a cig­a­rette.

There is great con­cern here for spec­ta­tor safety. In truth, the only way to achieve com­plete safety would be to al­low gal­leries of only bighorn sheep.

Bob Stoecker is in charge of first aid on the course, and when in­ter­viewed by the lo­cal pa­per, the Ta­coma News Tri­bune, he pre­dicted tough spec­ta­tor con­di­tions as the tem­per­a­tures rise on a course si­t­u­ated “on a west-fac­ing sand bowl.”

The pa­per re­ported that, on Mon­day, when the play­ers were strolling around in the most ca­sual of prac­tice con­di­tions and the spec­ta­tor crowds were nowhere near what they will be this week­end, there were 79 peo­ple who re­ported to the first-aid tents.

When that U.S. Am­a­teur was held here in 2010, there were as many as a dozen bro­ken an­kles re­ported. The main head­quar­ters for in­juries here is ti­tled, in­ter­est­ingly, the Joint Oper­a­tions Cen­ter.

The greens look like the ar­eas on other cour­ses crunched down where spec­ta­tors cross the fair­ways. But looks can be de­ceiv­ing. The play­ers say their putts roll true and the or­ga­niz­ing U.S. Golf Assn. says the speed will be be­tween 11 and 11 1⁄2 on the Stimp­me­ter. That’s not Au­gusta Na­tional, but it is fast.

This golf course can best be de­scribed as the beauty and the beast. It will be the for­mer to spec­ta­tors and TV view­ers and the lat­ter to the play­ers.

This will be the first time the U.S. Open has been held in this part of the U.S. and only the sec­ond ma­jor cham­pi­onship.

But it should be a worth it, and be a mem­o­rable spec­ta­tor ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially for those area vet­er­ans who know enough to bring ropes and pitons.

Char­lie Riedel As­so­ci­ated Press

THIS IS WHAT the No. 1 golfer in the world, Rory McIl­roy, faced on the 14th tee at Cham­bers Bay dur­ing a prac­tice round. The course, which opened in 2007, could play as long as 7,800 yards.

Harry How Getty Im­ages

THE ONE TREE at Cham­bers Bay stands next to the 16th tee, where South Korea’s Byeong-Hun An teed off dur­ing a prac­tice round Wed­nes­day.

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