U.S. Open Golf: A Wide Open Open

US Open Golf
Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports
US Open Golf

The terrain at this year’s U.S. Open looks more like a British Open, which could give Phil Mickelson a leg up in completing a career Grand Slam. “Lefty,” who last won a major at Muirfield in Scotland in 2013, has gritted his teeth through a record six runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open. “If Phil Mickelson was ever going to win a U.S. Open, this would probably be the one that will suit him the most,” says Greg Norman, a two-time U.S. Open runner-up and now a part of Fox Sports’ inaugural coverage of the tournament.

Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington, the “links-style” course built on a former sand-and-gravel quarry overlooking Puget Sound, has big, wide fairways. “Phil’s weakness, which is not being accurate off the tee, is not going to be a big liability for him,” Norman says. “And he’s got such a great short game. I hope he gets there early to play as often as he can.”

The 115th U.S. Open will be played for the first time on 100 percent fine fescue grasses. “I bet you there wouldn’t be 15 players in the field that have ever played on that,” Norman says. “The ball spins differently and reacts differently off the clubface.”

With so many variables—including the challenging way the U.S. Golf Association traditionally sets up a course—Norman calls this “a wide open Open.” While the world’s top-ranked player, Rory McIlroy, is favored, Norman sees “probably 20 players who have the capability of taking this course on.”

Norman promises that at Chambers Bay (the first U.S. Open host in the Pacific Northwest), “You’re going to see players taking some unusual shots. You’ll see golf balls being rejected off fairways from mis-hit shots by 50 to 60 yards. It’s just something that’s never been experienced in any U.S. Open, so it’s going to be great for television, and not great for some of the players.”

But perhaps the greatest for Mickelson.

U.S. Open Golf, Thursday–Sunday, Fox and Fox Sports 1
Thursday, June 18: First round (12:00–8:00pm/ET, Fox Sports 1; 8:00-11:00pm/ET, Fox)
Friday, June 19: Second round (12:00–8:00pm/ET, Fox Sports 1; 8:00-11:00pm/ET, Fox)
Saturday, June 20: Third round (2:00–10:00pm/ET, Fox)
Sunday, June 21: Final round (2:00–10:30pm/ET, Fox)
If a playoff is needed, it will air Monday, June 22, 2:30pm/ET, Fox.