OAKMONT, PENNSYLVANIA | Everything fell into place for it to happen.
The rough, normally so penal during past championships of this caliber, was cut down to a length that left little fear.
The more than 12,600 trees that once blanketed Oakmont Country Club were systematically removed from 1993 to 2016. Where the 2016 U.S. Open had gargantuan grandstands and ample crowds to provide a sense of corridors, this year’s U.S. Amateur had neither. The preeminent sportswriter Grantland Rice once wrote that he enjoyed being able to see 17 of Oakmont’s 18 flagsticks from the back porch of the clubhouse decades before the 70’s and 80’s when most of the trees were added. Walking around this week, the course took on that barren aesthetic as designer Henry Fownes envisioned back in 1903, although he definitely didn’t picture the bustling white noise machine that is the Pennsylvania Turnpike bisecting the property.
And then there were the players. Nearly all 312 of them had never stepped onto Oakmont, allowing them to see the course with fre...
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