Who’ll win the US Open?

The facts, fig­ures and sto­ries be­hind Shin­necock’s re­turn

Today's Golfer (UK) - - First Tee -

What do I need to know?

The 118th US Open will be con­tested at Shin­necock Hills in New York. If fit, Brooks Koepka will be bid­ding to be­come the first man to re­tain the tro­phy since Cur­tis Strange in 1989. This year, the field will be made up of 156 play­ers, which will be cut to 60 and ties af­ter the sec­ond round. If two or more golfers are tied af­ter 72 holes, a two-hole ag­gre­gate play-off will re­place the cus­tom­ary 18-hole play-off for the first time in a US Open.

What do the his­tory books say?

Apart from be­ing the old­est golf club in the US, Shin­necock was the first venue to host the US Open in three cen­turies. This year will rep­re­sent the fifth time the pres­ti­gious cham­pi­onship has been staged there, and the first since Retief Goosen won in 2004. Other for­mer win­ners at Shin­necock in­clude James Foulis (1896), Ray­mond Floyd (1986) and Corey Pavin (1995).

What’s changed since 2004?

For starters, we won’t see a re­peat of the dis­as­trously dry con­di­tions which caused play to be sus­pended af­ter play­ers started put­ting off the 7th green and into the bunker. “That will not hap­pen again,” says Mike Davis, USGA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. “If it does, I’m re­tir­ing.” An­other change will see the par-70 course play longer than ever be­fore. Ten new back tees have stretched the yardage from 6,996 to 7,445 yards. To make the lay­out leaner and meaner, seven acres of fair­way have also been con­verted into fes­cue rough and tee po­si­tions have been al­tered to bring more bunkers into play.

Who has form at Shin­necock Hills?

Not many. Only two of the world’s top 10 have ever played at Shin­necock com­pet­i­tively. The grand-slam chas­ing Phil Mick­el­son has per­haps the best record, with a tied fourth in 1995 and a run­ner-up in 2004. In com­par­i­son, Tiger with­drew dur­ing the sec­ond round in 1995 due to in­jury and then fin­ished tied 17th on 10 over par – his joint-third high­est 72-hole score in a Ma­jor – nine years later. Adam Scott cur­rently holds the course record (63), but Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler played Shin­necock last au­tumn and both shot rounds of 65...

Can Tiger play this year?

He can, but only just. His 10-year ex­emp­tion as a past cham­pion ex­pires af­ter 2018. Past win­ners Jim Furyk and Ernie Els have had to rely on a spe­cial ex­emp­tion to get in this year.

When and where can I watch the ac­tion?

Live cov­er­age and high­lights will be shown ex­clu­sively on Sky Sports, from June 14-17.

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