ERIN, WISCONSIN – Jordan Spieth has thrown the number out there.
A range of numbers, actually.
In discussing what it will take for the U.S. Open at first-time host Erin Hills to be judged a success – Spieth can be excused for thinking the U.S. Open at perhaps one-and-done Chambers Bay two years ago was a smash hit – Spieth thinks the winning score will be low by the standards of golf’s most unforgiving championship.
“I don’t see par winning the tournament,” Spieth said Tuesday. “I see closer to 5 to 10-under. Someone who has very good control of the ball off the tee will have plenty of opportunities to make birdies, given the conditions that we’re expecting.
“And I think the USGA is very much okay with that.”
Here’s hoping Spieth is right.
The U.S. Open is supposed to be tough. That’s fine.
“It’s a brute,” Adam Scott said.
But birdies shouldn’t be the enemy. These are the best players in the world and it’s more interesting when they can make birdies on the toughest test in golf.
Erin Hills may allow that.
The course is going to look spectacular on television because it’s such a dramatic-looking place to begin with. It’s immense and rolling thanks to glaciers ages ago, the fescue waves in the wind that never seems to stop and the absence of trees only enhances the scale of the place. It’s the kind of place that would deserve one of those roadside pullovers so you could stop and look for a while – if there was anything more than a two-lane blacktop anywhere around the place.
There are going to be some big numbers and one caddie said there may be more lost balls this week than in all the other weeks of the PGA Tour season combined. But there’s room to roam off the tee and Erin Hills makes the driver relevant again. That’s a very good thing.
Spieth is just guessing at the winning score, obviously, and there’s no track record at Erin Hills. But the course is in pristine condition, thunderstorms have taken some fire out of the greens and the best of the best never fail to impress us with what they can do.
He may be right, including the part about the USGA not caring.