McGinley on Oakmont: "The bottom line is you just have to play great golf"

McGinley on Oakmont: "The bottom line is you just have to play great golf"
The fairway bunkers on the 15th at Oakmont

The fairway bunkers on the 15th at Oakmont

Never mind the greens, it’s the fast, sloping fairways that could cause havoc at Oakmont.

Former Ryder Cup skipper Paul McGinley walked them on Monday and Tuesday and insisted their slopes will be a test as players try to find a way of making the birdies they need to counteract the inevitable mistakes.

“People talk about the speed of the greens when it gets firm and fast but try hitting one of those fairways when you get a crosswind, which we are going to have,” McGinley said.

“But in 2007 it wasn’t the guys who hit a lot of fairways that finished up there on the leaderboard, it was the guys who hit a lot of greens in regulation.”

According to the Dubliner, making enough birdies is key and that means being aggressive at the right time.

“It’s easy to be on the back foot all the time and hit four and five irons to stay in the fairway,” he said. “But in the US Open, the winners are generally the guys who have the most birdies. 

“A US Open winner makes between nine and 12 birdies so it’s important you don’t stay on the back foot all the time and there are chances out there.

Rough short of 17 green... Yeah, I'd say Oakmont is ready 😳 @usopengolf

A video posted by Justin Thomas (@justinthomas34) on

“In my mind there are nine holes where you are hitting wedge if you are playing aggressively. But you have got to get that balance. You can’t just think par-par-par. 

“You need to get your birdie count between nine and 12. To get to five over, like it was the last time, you can afford to make 17 bogeys.”

Bomb and gouge is not US Open golf but with Angel Cabrera hitting few fairways and many more greens in 2007, being aggressive may be the key.

“The modern player hits the driver in so many places and can get it down there and then chop it on the green. But you if you hit an iron or fairway wood and miss the green, you are so far back. 

“The bottom line is you just have to play great golf.”

The fairways bunkers are gathering more balls than in the past.

The fairways bunkers are gathering more balls than in the past.

Amazing Grace

Branden Grace knows who’s going to win the US Open — the player with the best head.

Fourth behind Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay last year, the South African’s looking for a resilient, cool-headed philosopher to triumph.

“I think the guy with the best head is going to win at the end of the week,” Grace said. “The guy who can stay most patient, the guy that's really going to just accept that things are not going to go your way all the time. 

“The guy that’s going to win is going to be the guy that gets over that the quickest.”

Practice balls, get your practice balls.

Practice balls, get your practice balls.

Rory Boy

Danny Willett might be the Master champion but he knows he’s got a long way to go to catch up with Rory McIlroy, his playing partner with Rickie Fowler for the first two rounds.

Asked if he considered himself “Rory’s equal”, he said: “No. What Rory's done in the game is pretty massive. 

“I think he's helped the younger generation within European golf strive for a little bit more. 

“Just as Tiger did for worldwide golf, I think Rory’s done similar for the young lads on the European Tour to really put their foot down and try to get up there and try and chase him down and try and achieve a little bit of what he's been able to do.”

G-Mac’s bet loss

Graeme McDowell’s first practice round at Oakmont cost him $50, according to AP's Doug Ferguson.

On arrival at the course after missing the cut in the FedEx St Jude Classic, he played the back nine and made a bet with his caddie Ken Comboy. 

McDowell stood to earn $30 for every birdie he made while the Mancunian bagman was due $10 for every bogey. 

Walking off the 18th, McDowell owed $50.

Long day at Oakmont

Greenkeepers at Oakmont are working 20 hour days to make the course perfect for the world’s best players.

“We're actually starting about 3:30, 3:45 in the morning and trying to wrap up, hopefully, by 10:30, 11:00 at night. It just depends how it goes,” said superintendent John Zimmers, who has between 190 to 200 people working this week. 

“It's a real challenge the first few days to get everybody to go out, learn where they're supposed to be. It is dark, too, at 4:00 in the morning.”

The greens, will be stimping at around 14 and a half though downhill putts are even faster.