In a ruthlessly competitive age where talent identification and recruitment plays an important role for sports looking to secure champions of the future, golf typically is a sport that channels its best youngsters into junior programs.
As Ben Hogan once said, “Golf is not about the number of good shots you hit, it is about restricting your bad ones”. Hogan theory will certainly be present at the US Open that begins at the treacherous Oakmont Golf Club.
World No.1, Jason Day has already stated a score of plus-five could be adequate to clinch the title on Sunday afternoon. The last time the tournament was held at Oakmont, Angel Cabrera’s five-over par sealed him a place on top of the podium.
Many experts have termed the golf course as the toughest ever in US Open history. The length of the rough and the lightning quick greens will ensure the players that limit the damage are likely to prevail over the four days.
Additionally, the course has a 300-yard par three and more than 200 bunkers, plus slopes on all the fairways, making it a beast. A couple of short par fours such as 17th provide great temptation but overall this course is about limiting the damage.
The slick greens and the thick rough surrounding it will decide the fate of many golfers. As good as Day can be on the greens, he is still second to Jordan Spieth in terms of putting.
But the Aussie’s mental toughness and ability to seize the opportunity at the crucial moments give him a distinct advantage over his arch-rival, Spieth.
The American also has the scars of his choke at the Masters in April. No doubt Spieth has the consistency and if he can overcome his final-round jitters he will be right up there come Sunday afternoon.
Day, the man from Beaudesert, Queensland, has finished in the top ten in the last three consecutive US Opens, showing he can adapt to tough conditions.
Dustin Johnson also has a good record at the US Open over the past couple of years but the American’s inability to hold vital putts could hold against him.
The rise of Day and Spieth has overshadowed Rory McIlroy over the past 12 months. The Northern Irishman is still ranked number three and he could be up the top on Sunday. McIlroy probably fits into the list of players that hit excessive amounts of great shots but his bad ones can cost him drastically, especially at Oakmont.
There are just so many good golfers but look for Jason Dufner, he, like Day, has a good record at the US Open over the past few seasons. The long course and the design will also suit Adam Scott and if the Aussie can make a few ‘ugly’ pars, he can spring a surprise.