Former champion Graeme McDowell got his first look at Erin Hills this week and joked the rough is so tall those contesting next week’s U.S. Open could easily lose their caddie if searching for a lost ball.
McDowell along with caddie, Ken Comboy and coach, Pete Cowen travelled to Milwaukee in Wisconsin last Monday for a practice round on a second new U.S. Open venue in the past three years.
This year is the seven-year anniversary of McDowell’s U.S. Open triumph at Pebble Beach but Erin Hills, and just like Chambers Bay in 2015, is a brand new canvas for the game’s best.
“Woh! there is some rough at Erin Hills so much so you might lose your caddie as it is just that high and that thick”, said McDowell smiling.
“I have not seen rough that high since we were last at Royal Birkdale in 2008.
“There will be some shots at the par 5s at Erin Hills where you hitting your second shots probably across waist high fescue”.
In fact, Comboy pulled out his mobile phone to show footage of the rough he had taken on Monday and there is the scene of Cowen searching for one of McDowell’s tee shots and with the grass clearly up to his waist.
“There is just so much rough that does not seem to be in play but will be in play, and more so if we get any wind”, added McDowell.
“The course is much like Whistling Straits but a much better course than Whistling Straits.
“But to me my first impression was looking at this big wide-open field of golf and I thought 350-yard bombers here we come.
“Also, some of the target areas are just 50-yards wide.
“So, it is a sleeping tactical giant and the course, as a whole, is a real sleeper as there is a lot of tee boxes where the USGA will be moving the tee boxes around a lot and that will bring so much into play.
“The bunkers are pretty good but if you hit a bad shot that goes into a bunker, and it is out of play you are going to get something miserable.
“As for the greens, they are sneaky severe so next week you are going see big numbers and it would not surprise me seeing guys making double digits on some holes whereas I can see the guys also shooting 66s, as well.
“But then in saying that I cannot see the scores being that good”.
Above – Gmac teeing off on the par 5 18th …..670 yards from tips!!!
In contrast, McDowell joins Seamus Power teeing up in today’s FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tennessee where the only real concern is the water-logged fairways of the TPC Southwind course.
McDowell is no stranger to the course whereas Power is contesting the $US 6.4m event for a first occasion.
A severe electrical storm late on Tuesday meant Power got to play just three holes after getting to the course late following contesting 27 holes of Monday ’s U.S. Open qualifier.
However, while he was also not contesting yesterday’s Pro-Am Power did manage to get out early to play the back nine.
“The only thing is that I have not seen holes four through to nine but we will walk those this afternoon”, he said on the eve of the Tennessee event.
And the withdraw of Padraig Harrington after a freak injury has reduced the Irish contingent to just McDowell off at 18;40 and Power off at 15;00 today.