Monday 18 December 2017

Rahm: It's a links course on steroids

Spain’s Jon Rahm. Photo Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Spain’s Jon Rahm. Photo Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

The venue for this week's US Open is like a "links course on steroids" according to Spain's Jon Rahm, who is one of the favourites for victory in just the fourth major championship of his career.

Although they always deny it, the United States Golf Association (USGA) want the US Open to be the toughest test for the world's best players, with the winning score close to level par.

That usually means narrow fairways, thick rough and quick greens and Erin Hills in Wisconsin looks to be no exception, with scare stories abounding about the knee-high fescue grass which lurks just a few feet off the fairways.

"I didn't step in it," Rahm admitted in a pre-tournament press conference. "There's no need to injure my wrist this week before I tee off.

"It really looks very penalising. Unless you get extremely lucky where you might be able to move it 120 yards, it looks like a 30-yard chip out.

"I think we've all seen the videos that Kevin Na and Rickie Fowler and other players posted. It doesn't look easy to move out of there. It wouldn't surprise me if someone loses a ball and has to take an unplayable (lie)."

At 7,741 yards, Erin Hills is the longest course in major history and the par-five 18th can stretch to 675 yards, although numerous tee boxes allow the course set-up to be varied every day depending on weather conditions.

"It's like a links golf course on steroids," added Rahm, who was the low amateur in a tie for 23rd at Oakmont last year. "Everything is a little bigger.

"It's a US Open, they expect our best. It's big greens, big slopes, you have to be able to lag putt. With all the slopes going off the green, you might miss the green by three feet, roll off to 30 feet and being able to putt those, or even if you want to bump, run, chip it close, it's going to be important.

"We saw that at Pinehurst (in 2014). It worked out pretty well that week."

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