OPINION: Chambers Bay will be no picnic
The US Open, golf's second Major, will tee off for the 115th time today at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Washington. It's a public golf course that measures just under 7,000 metres and plays as a par 70… and bizarrely it has just one tree.
I know what you're thinking… this is going to be a proverbial walk in the park. But think again. This Robert Trent-Jones designed course used to be a gravel quarry and while it's been thoroughly transformed into one of golf's top championship courses, it's lost none of its grittiness and hard demeanour, and will pose serious questions for the world's golfing elite.
The greens are not immediately distinct and the transition from fairway to green is almost invisible… it's just not what you expect from American courses and looks a little out of place. It's a tough four-day assignment and if you're looking for a winning score, don't look for much more than 3 under par… this course and its concrete-like greens is that tough.
And talking about the golfing elite… who will come out tops on its traditional final day, Father's Day? Chambers Bay is known to be the ultimate putting test, so you need to find the best putters on tour, line them up like at a police identification parade, and pick one.
Three-time winner and former world number one, Tiger Woods, (now ranked 195th in the world) has arrived and once again pronounced himself confident and that he was going for the win! Well, of course he'd say that… but who does he think he's fooling? To win at the very highest level against the very best in the world (and right now he is no longer part of the very best in the world), you need constant competition golf, not the occasional practice round and range session. In fact, I only mention him because my own critics have suggested that Woods is entitled to ongoing consideration as the game's greatest, most influential player. However, I honestly don't see him being able to win this and he may not even make the halfway cut.
So who are the other contenders?
Well, you'd have to consider current world number one Rory McIlroy whose recent form at Majors is undeniable. His recent competition form though is a bit shaky and so for once he's not on my list.
Jordan Spieth played the most clinical round of golf as he led a procession to his maiden major win at this year's Masters. Can he do it again? You better believe it, and he seems to enjoy US courses so this qualifies him as one of my picks. My only proviso is that he arrives in the correct frame of mind, what I like to call the Masters Mindset. That, after all, was what propelled him to victory at Augusta a few months ago. The other concern is that to win back-to-back Majors as your first two is a huge call.
Rickie Fowler is so exciting to watch and he loves playing at the Majors. He has seven top 20 finishes in his last eight Majors to prove my point and always seems to lift his game at the big events. My concern is that he's ranked outside of the top 100 in putting… that's not great on this course.
What about Mr Shortgame, Phil Mickelson? Yes, he'll be in a good frame of mind after a good run at the recently completed Fedex St Jude Classic. And he is a short-game and putting maestro. Watch out for him on Sunday.
And finally, I like Justin Rose. There's been something about his big game mentality that suggests he's no longer content to be a passenger. He wants to win, he has the shots and the desire. But does he have the mental toughness? We'll see on Sunday, but I like his chances.
But for now, it's all about day one jostling. Chambers Bay hasn't seen too much rain and so it'll be like playing into concrete slabs on some holes and the way in which the course is laid out will be key to who shoots 70 and who shoots 85.
So sit back and enjoy the US Open. I think for once the course will be the winner this time round.
_Jeremy Harris is the afternoon sports anchor at Kfm and Cape Talk and EWN Sport's specialist golf correspondent. He is a keen golfer and plays off a 5 at his home club, Arabella. He is the voice of the Sunshine Tour weekly highlights and monthly magazine programmes on Supersport. _You can follow him on Twitter: @jeremyharris55.