Lets hope the USGA stick to their guns and let carnage reign

Mark McGowan

Nelly Korda reacts after finding the water for the third time on 12 (Chris Keane/USGA)

Mark McGowan

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When it comes to golf course setups, particularly when your tournament identity is to present the toughest test in golf, getting it right is a near impossible task.

Set it up too easy and those who crave carnage – guilty as charged – will sound off about how they’ve caved to player power, set it up too tough, and you get the players – the pampered f**ks as Patrick Cantlay once called them – threatening to boycott future editions.

The Goldilocks zone is so narrow, that it’s questionable whether it even actually exists. For three days at last year’s US Open, the USGA got it spot on, but in the opening round two players tied the all-time major low scoring record for a single round and people revolted – again, guilty as charged.

But I make no apologies for it. The U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open are the two tournaments a year where I want to see a lot more bogeys than birdies. I want to see players making quads, quintuples and beyond. I want elite players tested to the pins of their collars, and I want plenty of them to fail that test.

Yes, a Nelly Korda victory would’ve done wonders for the women’s game given that she’s already the standout superstar and the only potential winner who would make the wider sporting world sit up and take notice that something really special was happening, but Nelly faced the same golf course as everybody else and on this occasion, the golf course bit her harder than it bit most.

And that’s all well and good. It’s not that the 12th hole was unplayable – both Leona Maguire and Aine Donegan parred it, 10 players birdied it – but 13 players made triple or worse. Fantastic. That’s what I want to see. Again, not every week, but a couple of times a year it’s soup for the soul.

Yes, players being forced to wait 25 minutes and more on the tee before hitting their approaches to the par-3 is unfortunate, and was a big contributor in rounds touching six hours to complete, but rounds verging on five-and-a-half are far from uncommon on the LPGA Tour week to week in prime scoring conditions, so if that’s not a major sticking point on an average week, it shouldn’t be one this week.

A winning score of level-par after 72 holes was traditionally the aim for the USGA showpiece events, but you have to go back to 2009 to find the last time that a winner of the U.S. Women’s Open wasn’t in red figures at the end of the week and we’ve now got a real opportunity to see a score of level-par or higher taking the spoils.

That is was Nelly who suffered most is unfortunate, but it’s also worth remembering that she hit her bunker shot way too hard and saw it trundle into the water, then got too greedy on both her first and second chips back over the hazard. She’s the best player in the women’s game by a long margin at present, but all three of those shots were ones that even I’d be disappointed with. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do as badly or even worse, only that I’d be pretty pissed off with myself for doing so.

We’re virtually guaranteed to see a similar set up in round two as only Mother Nature is allowed to really intervene between rounds one and two, but hopefully the USGA stick to their guns over the weekend and don’t give in to the pressure that’s sure to be coming from some sectors.

And let’s hope we see something similar at Pinehurst in a fortnight’s time.

Let carnage reign.

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