2018 U.S. Open Championship Preview

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The 2018 U.S. Open Championship will be played this week at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York, on Long Island, beginning with the first round on Thursday, June 14th. This will be the 118th playing of the U.S. Open Championship, and the fifth at Shinnecock Hills. Brooks Koepka is the defending champion, winning last year on a soft and wet Erin Hills course with a winning score of 16-under par 272, tying the record. Look for scores to be a lot closer to par this year.

Top Contenders

  • Dustin Johnson – The number one player in the world and a winner last week, Johnson seems to be rounding into the form he showed last year prior to his untimely injury on the eve of the 2017 Masters. Look for Johnson to be at or near the top of the leaderboard when Sunday comes around.
  • Jason Day – Probably the next best player behind Johnson, even if the World Rankings do not show it, Day has been playing well this year. With two wins at two tough courses, Torrey Pines and Quail Hollow, and a tie for 2nd at Pebble Beach, Day is almost sure to be in the mix.
  • Justin Rose – With an ability to win tournaments with an almost clinical precision, as he did at Colonial a few weeks ago, Rose has to be among the favorites. An all-around player, Rose doesn’t have many weaknesses, and if he can putt well should have a chance here.
  • Phil Mickelson – Has played well at Shinnecock in the previous two U.S. Opens held here, albeit back in 1995 and 2004, and has played pretty well this year with a win and 6 top tens. A victory for Mickelson in the U.S. Open would give him the career grand slam, and he wants it badly.
  • Rickie Fowler – While not his best year, Rickie usually plays very well in major championships, as shown by his 2nd place finish at the Masters. Fowler’s game should fit Shinnecock well, with his good ball-striking and his solid short putting, look for him to contend on Sunday.
  • Jordan Spieth – Putting has let Spieth down this year, but his ability to just keep himself in it should help him if he should find himself near the lead.
  • Jon Rahm – Has not played as well this year, but could go on a run at any time that would propel him up the leaderboard.
  • Rory McIlroy – As talented as anyone that has ever played the game, Rory is someone that can never be counted out. He does tend to play his best under soft conditions though, so this may not be the best venue for him.
  • Patrick Reed – This year’s Masters champion is a grinder and a fighter, and the only person who can actually win all four majors this year. Reed worked on softening the right-to-left curvature of his shots going into this year to be more consistent and to better contend in the major championships, and then he won the Masters, although that course does favor the right-to-left shot.
  • Tiger Woods – One of the best players of all time, Woods has been just on the cusp of title contention in this comeback season. He would love nothing more than to get his first win in a major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open here at Shinnecock Hills, a course which hasn’t been that kind to him in the past.

A True Open Championship

The U.S. Open Championship, which is one of the most open of all golf events in the world. 9,049 players from all over the world signing up to, or at least attempt to, play in the U.S. Open. There were 112 local qualifying locations around the U.S. and Canada, with 500 players advancing to sectional qualifying, where they would join 360 players who were exempt from local qualifying. Twelve sectional qualifiers were held, including one in England and one in Japan, and 78 players advanced from those to compete against an additional 78 exempt players to make up the total of 156 players who will meet at Shinnecock Hills to compete for the championship.

Shinnecock Hills Course Overview

Originally designed as a 12 hole course by Willie Davis, and later expanded to 18 in 1895, Shinnecock Hills became the first incorporated golf club in the U.S. in 1891, and three years later Shinnecock became a founding club of the USGA and hosted the 2nd U.S. Open Championship in 1896. The course was revised four times before the present course, designed by William Flynn, was opened for the 1931 season. Shinnecock has hosted a total of four previous U. S. Open Championships, hosting its second 90 years after the first, in 1986, and also the 1995 and the 2004 championships. In 2016, Shinnecock underwent a major restoration to bring back some of the original angles of the course.

Course Information

Par 70    7,449 yards

Video Courtesy of USGA

Hole-by-Hole Description

1st Hole    Par 4   399 yards

1st hole Shinnecock

1st hole Shinnecock – Source USGA

The opening hole plays from an elevated tee near the clubhouse. Players will find that the fairway narrows dramatically as it nears the two fairway bunkers on the right side of the drive zone – from 47 yards wide at 275 yards out, to 30 yards wide at the 300-yard mark. Under certain wind conditions, some players may try to hit driver close to or onto the green. It’s a birdie opportunity, but a player could easily make a quick bogey as well.

2nd Hole    Par 3   252 yards

This hole has been lengthened by 26 yards since the 2004 U.S. Open to restore the challenge presented by architect William Flynn; a par 3 that requires a long-iron shot. The prevailing wind from the southwest would be slightly helping and from the left, and most of the players will hit a 4- or 5-iron, depending on the wind and the hole location. The green is open in front, although there is a slight upslope just short of the green.

3rd Hole    Par 4   500 yards

3rd hole Shinnecock

3rd hole Shinnecock – Source USGA

As was the case at the 2nd hole, the prevailing southwest wind would be favoring the players and from the left. A new tee has added 22 yards to the hole, and is farther to the left, and the fairway was also tightened on the left to make the angle of the dogleg more pronounced. The fairway is still relatively generous at 33.5 yards at 300 yards from the tee. A bunker on the right side of the landing area is unlikely to be in play, unless the wind changes direction.

4th Hole    Par 4    475 yards

The tee shot and approach shot will typically play into and a right-to-left wind on this hole that has been lengthened by 40 yards. The left side has been brought in so the fairway measures 32.5 yards wide at 300 yards out, which brings the fairway bunkers into play. The best angle of approach is from the right side of the fairway, unless a hole location on the right side of the green is used. The slightly elevated green has some subtle movement.

5th Hole    Par 5    589 yards

This hole has been lengthened by 52 yards, but the prevailing wind is helping, so players could have an opportunity to reach the green in two. The carry distance to the left-hand fairway from the tee is about 250 yards. The green sits slightly above the fairway and is surrounded by closely mown turf. Because of undulations that can move the ball away from the hole, the effective size of the green is much smaller. This hole is still likely to be a good birdie opportunity and should play under par.

6th Hole    Par 4    491 yards

This hole features a blind tee shot, and although the tee shot is typically into the wind, it’s only a 240 yard carry across the bunker on the right side of this dogleg-right hole. Players who favor the left side to avoid the bunker and the natural sandy area on the right will face a longer approach shot from a less desirable angle, while also bringing the bunkers on the left into play. The approach shot is to a green that pitches from back to front.

7th Hole    Par 3    189 yards

A classic representation of the Redan hole at North Berwick in Scotland, this hole features a green that slopes from front right to back left, requiring precise distance control. The prevailing wind is typically against the player and slightly from the right. The back left bunker will likely catch quite a few tee shots. Players who miss the green long will face a shot back up the slope, and a ball not hit with enough force could roll back toward them.

8th Hole    Par 4    439 yards

This hole has been lengthened by 41 yards since the 2004 U.S. Open. The tee shot is to a generous fairway, although players who successfully challenge the bunkers on the left will leave themselves a better angle of approach to the green. The prevailing wind is against the player and from the right, but some players may still choose less than driver from the tee. Like most of the greens at Shinnecock Hills, this putting surface rolls with the surrounding topography.

9th hole Shinnecock

9th hole Shinnecock – Source USGA

9th Hole    Par 4    485 yards

On the finish to the outgoing nine, players should encounter a right-to-left breeze on a blind tee shot to a fairway with a lot of undulation. Tee shots that do not reach the bottom of the hill could leave players with an uneven lie for the uphill approach shot, where the player may only see only part of the flagstick. Carrying the approach shot to the green is a must, but those who end up over the green will face a tough downhill shot.

10th Hole    Par 4    415 yards

The player faces a decision from the tee: hit a shot of about 220 yards to a plateau, leaving a relatively level lie, or drive it over the hill. Distance control is critical on the approach shot, whether from the top of the hill, or with a shorter club from the bottom or even part of the way down the hill. The approach is typically downwind, to a green with a closely mown area behind it.

11th Hole    Par 3    159 yards

One of the most demanding short par 3s in golf features a very small green that slopes from the back left to the front right. The breeze is typically from left to right and slightly helping, and if the wind is up, the degree of difficulty increases. The middle bunker on the right catches a lot of tee shots. Shots that end up long and left of the green will leave a very difficult shot down the slope.

12th Hole    Par 4    469 yards

This hole’s length is unchanged from 2004, and some players may choose less than driver from the tee, as the fairway measures only about 30 yards wide throughout the landing area. The approach shot is to a fairly large green that features some interior ridges that add strategy and difficulty to the hole. The restoration of the course brought back part of the green that had been lost over time.

14th hole Shinnecock

14th hole Shinnecock – Source USGA

13th Hole    Par 4    374 yards

Another hole that hasn’t changed much since 2004 will offer a potential birdie opportunity, although it has the least generous fairway on the course, at just 16.5 yards wide 300 yards from the tee. Many players will choose to lay up from the elevated tee, as hitting the fairway here is critical, leaving themselves a short club into a green that features a lot of movement. The bunker at the front right of the green can snare an approach shot.

14th Hole    Par 4    519 yards

This hole has been lengthened by 77 yards, restoring it as the long par 4 it was designed to be. There is a dramatic drop in elevation from the tee to the fairway, which pitches from right to left. The best angle of approach is from the left, as players who find the left rough could chase the ball

15th hole Shinnecock

15th hole Shinnecock – Source USGA

onto the green through the narrow opening. The second shot plays slightly uphill to a green that pitches gently from back to front, although it does fall off at the back.

15th Hole    Par 4    409 yards

This hole also features a significant drop in elevation from the tee to the fairway. Most players will drive over the ridge that runs across the fairway, leaving them with a short iron approach into a green with several accessible hole locations, except for the front, which is protected by bunkers. The prevailing breeze is from the left and slightly into the players. Those who find the fairway, which gradually narrows between 250 and 350 yards, should be left with a good birdie opportunity.

16th Hole    Par 5    616 yards

16th hole Shinnecock

16th hole Shinnecock – Source USGA

This hole has been lengthened by 74 yards, and with the prevailing wind into and from the players’ right, it is likely to play as a three-shot hole. The winding fairway will require the players to choose proper angles. Many players will play their second shot short of the bunker on the right, about 100 yards short of the green. Those who attempt to reach the green in two, or are left with a long approach after finding trouble off the tee, will be tested by a narrow and well protected putting surface.

17th Hole    Par 3    175 yards

The recent major change to this hole is the restoration of an area of the green at the back left, which gives an area to add a hole location. The prevailing wind is from the players’ left, and when factored in with the angle of the green, means this hole requires a very precise shot. Player who bail out to the right could find themselves in the bunker, because the angle of the green and the wind will exaggerate the miss.

18th hole Shinnecock

18th hole Shinnecock – Source USGA

18th Hole    Par 4    475 yards

The finishing hole features a new tee that adds 35 yards and creates more of a blind tee shot. The prevailing wind is from right to left off the tee, with more of a favoring wind on the approach shot. The preferred angle to the green is the right side of the fairway, both for a better look at the green and a better angle of approach, although players are likely to only see part of the flagstick. The green has a good amount of slope from back to front.

Live Television Coverage

All Times EDT

First Round, Thursday, June 14

  • 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. FS1
  • 4:30-7:30 p.m. FOX

Second Round, Friday, June 15

  • 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. FS1
  • 4:30-7:30 p.m. FOX

Third Round, Saturday, June 16

  • 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. FOX
  • 4-7:30 p.m. FOX Deportes

Fourth Round, Sunday, June 17

  • 10 a.m.-7 p.m. FOX
  • 4-7 p.m. FOX Deportes

Live Streaming Coverage from the USGA

All Times EDT

First Round, Thursday, June 14

7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m Featured Groups 1

  • Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka
  • Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm, Rafael Cabrera Bello

8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Featured Groups 2

  • Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson
  • Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods

8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Featured Holes

  • Holes 7, 9 and 11

Second Round, Friday, June 15

7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Featured Groups 1

  • Groups To Be Determined

8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Featured Groups 2

  • Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods
  • Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson

Featured Holes 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

  • Holes 7, 9 and 11

Third Round, Saturday, June 16

Featured Groups 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m

  • Groups To Be Determined

Featured Holes 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

  • Holes 7, 9 and 11

Fourth Round, Sunday, June 17

Featured Groups 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

  • Groups To Be Determined

Featured Holes 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

  • Holes 7, 9 and 11

1st Round Tee Times – Thursday

* – denotes players beginning on the 10th hole

6:45 AM Harold Varner, Scott Piercy, Matthieu Pavon

6:45 AM* Scott Stallings, Sebastian Munoz, Matthew Southgate

6:56 AM Michael Putnam, Scott Gregory, Will Zalatoris

6:56 AM* Trey Mullinax, Matt Parziale(a), Jason Scrivener

7:07 AM Brendan Steele, Chesson Hadley, Harry Ellis(a),

7:07 AM* David Bransdon, Eric Axley, Tyler Duncan

7:18 AM Jhonattan Vegas, Dylan Frittelli, Doug Ghim(a)

7:18 AM* Garrett Rank(a), Mackenzie Hughes, Aaron Baddeley

7:29 AM Louis Oosthuizen, Jimmy Walker, Justin Rose

7:29 AM* Alexander Levy, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay

7:40 AM Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka

7:40 AM* Paul Casey, Satoshi Kodaira, Branden Grace

7:51 AM Tyrrell Hatton, Danny Willett, Ian Poulter

7:51 AM* Zach Johnson, Charl Schwartzel, Patrick Reed

8:02 AM Kevin Chappell, Andrew Johnston, Daniel Berger

8:02 AM* Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson

8:13 AM Bryson DeChambeau, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Matt Kuchar

8:13 AM* Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Rickie Fowler

8:24 AM Thorbjorn Olesen, Shubhankar Sharma, Patrick Rodgers

8:24 AM* Charles Howell, Bill Haas, Charley Hoffman

8:35 AM Lanto Griffin, Tom Lewis, Jacob Bergeron(a)

8:35 AM* Sungjae Im, Russell Knox, Matthew Wallace

8:46 AM Kristoffer Reitan(a), Luis Gagne(a), Cole Miller

8:46 AM* Shintaro Ban(a), Sung Joon Park, Tim Wilkinson

8:57 AM Mickey DeMorat, Tyler Strafaci(a), Calum Hill

8:57 AM* Dylan Meyer, Sulman Raza, Chris Naegel

12:30 PM Sam Burns, Brian Gay, Dean Burmester

12:30 PM* Matthew Jones, Ryan Fox, Shota Akiyoshi

12:41 PM Ryan Evans, Chun An Yu(a), Wenchong Liang

12:41 PM* Paul Waring, Theo Humphrey(a), Ted Potter

12:52 PM Russell Henley, Aaron Wise, Peter Uihlein

12:52 PM* Richy Werenski, Roberto Castro, Ollie Schniederjans

1:03 PM Tony Finau, Luke List, Gary Woodland

1:03 PM* Noah Goodwin(a), Richie Ramsay, Kenny Perry

1:14 PM Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm, Rafa Cabrera Bello

1:14 PM* Keegan Bradley, Emiliano Grillo, Xander Schauffele

1:25 PM Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren

1:25 PM* Lucas Glover, Webb Simpson, Graeme McDowell

1:36 PM Cameron Smith, Kyle Stanley, Pat Perez

1:36 PM* Ernie Els, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk

1:47 PM Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods

1:47 PM* Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Martin Kaymer

1:58 PM Haotong Li, Si Woo Kim, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

1:58 PM* Kevin Kisner, Ross Fisher, Adam Hadwin

2:09 PM Jason Dufner, Braden Thornberry(a), Brandt Snedeker

2:09 PM* Shane Lowry, Byeong Hun An, Chez Reavie

2:20 PM Rikuya Hoshino, Ryan Lumsden(a), James Morrison

2:20 PM* Lucas Herbert, Brian Stuard, Stewart Hagestad(a)

2:31 PM Cameron Wilson, Will Grimmer(a), Philip Barbaree(a)

2:31 PM* Franklin Huang(a), Sebastian Vazquez, Michael Miller

2:42 PM Rhett Rasmussen(a), Michael Hebert, Michael Block

2:42 PM* Christopher Babcock, Timothy Wiseman(a), David Gazzolo

Jeff Boone

Founder of Golf Talk Times

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