Huggan Previews Open

After reviewing previous U.S. Open's held at Winged Foot, John Huggan writes in Scotland on Sunday:

There is little doubt that WFW is one of America's finest - and at times when the USGA does not have a say in the speed of the greens, the width of the fairways and the length of the rough - one of the fairest tests. It is a proper golf course, with a closing stretch of demanding par-4s that we hope will be allowed to provide a fitting climax to the championship.

"As the various holes came to life, they were of a sturdy breed," wrote Tillinghast of the design process. "The contouring of the greens places great premium on the placement of the drives, but never is there the necessity of facing a prodigious carry of the sink-or-swim sort. It is only when the next shot must be played with rifle accuracy that brings the realisation that the drive must be placed."

Forgive my cynicism, but that is one aspect of this great course that will likely be lost during this coming week. As usual, the blue bloods in the blue blazers won't want red numbers on 'their' golf course and in 'their' precious championship. So, just as they were at Pinehurst last year, many of the premium spots for drives will be covered in golf's most boring hazard, long grass.

If the USGA can be trusted to do anything, it is that they will endeavour to eliminate any semblance of strategy or thought or flair from the US Open equation. What else? Oh yes, there will be little or no fun to be had, either.

An extremely knowledgeable spy of my close acquaintance has already been to Winged Foot, and had this to say about the course: "It's the hardest thing you've ever seen. I don't see how a short-hitter could break 78. Because of the severity of the slopes on the greens, it's much harder than Baltusrol was for last year's PGA Championship.

"If you hit a shot even one-yard past pin-high, you have virtually no chance to get the ball up and in. I don't think there will be more than two people under par by the end. In fact, it would not shock me if four 71s was enough to win."