Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 US Open

The 127 year old Shinnecock Hills Golf Club will host the US Open this week.


The Hamptons in Long Island is the home to gazillionaires and in the summer time the crowds and traffic in Manhattan dissipate (by Manhattan standards), particularly on Fridays, as the movers and shakers look to spend their time in the Hamptons.

It’s one of the big things I noticed when I moved to the south coming from Upstate New York…summers are much more fun in the Northeast. After getting killed by the snow and crappy weather for most of the year, come summertime people from the Northeast are ready to make the most of it. That means plenty of vacation time to be used and plenty of time to party and do the outdoors stuff while the good weather lasts.

The Hamptons provides that environment. And because you’re on Long Island, the traffic is unbearable and you’re going to hear about the bad traffic on the telecast, The Golf Channel, etc.

Shinnecock was originally designed as a 12-hole course by Willie Davis in 1891. Three years later, Willie Dunn added 6 more holes. It was then re-designed again in the 1937 to make the course 6,700 yards long. Currently, it is playing to ‘only’ 7,445 yards. That’s ‘only’ to US Open standards. However, it’s a par-70 and if the winds pick up, it can be quite treacherous.

Currently, Shinnecock ranks #6 in top golf courses in the world by GOLF Magazine. The general consensus from natives is that they prefer National Golf Links (ranked #7) over Shinnecock.

The US Open is difficult to predict because the field is so vast. The other issue is that you don’t know what the USGA is going to do with the design. For instance, Erin Hills was so wide open that it massively favored the long hitter. When Rory McIlroy won at Congressional, you would have thought that this was just another Tour stop than a US Open course. Chambers Bay was a disaster conditioning wise. Merion made drastic changes (and I think was probably the best design for a US Open course in a long time). They also completely revamped Pinehurst #2 when Kaymer won it.

So, it becomes very difficult to judge what a course will do, even if you have past history at it. My guess is that Shinnecock will stay the same based on past history. There’s talk about the course being wide open and providing the long hitters with a tremendous advantage. But, I don’t see the people at Shinnecock kowtowing to anybody. The US Open could always use Shinnecock, but Shinnecock doesn’t need the US Open. And thus, I see Shinnecock making little in the way of changes to appease the USGA. You’re just not going to see the disaster you saw at Chambers Bay happen at Shinnecock. And my guess is that the people of Shinnecock have too much pride in the club to let it get steamrolled by the field like what happened at Erin Hills and Congressional.

Looking at the history of Shinnecock, the real premium appears to be short game play and iron play. Here’s a look at the top finishers in 2004:

1st – R. Goosen
2nd – P. Mickelson
3rd – J. Maggert
t-4th – S. Maruyama
t-4th – M. Weir
6th – F. Funk
t-7th – R. Allenby
t-7th – S. Flesch
t-9th – S. Ames
t-9th – C. Dimarco
t-9th – E. Els
t-9th – J. Haas

Out of those 12 players listed, the only poor short game performers were Maggert, Allenby and Ames. And those three were all fabulous iron players in their primes. Then we go back to 1995 when Corey Pavin won. Pavin is one of the greatest short game performers of all time. That Open was filled with more great iron players at the top like Greg Norman, Tom Lehman and Bill Glasson. But, Norman was a pretty sound short game performer.

Then we hit 1986 when Raymond Floyd, another one of the all time great short game players wins followed by Chip Beck (excellent iron player and short game), Lanny Wadkins (all-time great iron player and good short game), Hal Sutton (excellent iron player), Lee Trevino (legendary iron player and short game performer).

Projected Winning Score: -3


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Dustin Johnson +800
Justin Rose +1,400
Justin Thomas +1,400
Jordan Spieth +1,800
Rickie Fowler +1,800



3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Branden Grace +3,300
Paul Casey +5,000
Marc Leishman +6,000
Louis Oosthuizen +6,000
Cameron Smith +15,000





3JACK

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