Our quick guide to the seven Australians playing in this week’s 2016 US Open at Oakmont Country Club.
Seven Australians will tee it up in the 2016 US Open this week in what could be one of the highest scoring majors in living memory.
A combination of glassy greens, narrow fairways and ankle-deep rough has media, golfers and golf fans already beginning to bemoan the difficulty of Oakmont Country Club.
2016 US Open: 1st round tee times (AEST)
6:45am (8:45pm) – Denny McCarthy, Aron Price, Mikael Lundberg
8:02am (10:02pm) – Marc Leishman, Jimmy Walker, Paul Casey
1:14pm (Fri 3:14am) – Cameron Smith, Steven Bowditch, Derek Bard (a)
1:47pm (Fri 3:47am) – Webb Simpson, Graeme McDowell, Geoff Ogilvy
2:20pm (Fri 4:20am) – Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott
Aron Price will begin the Aussie charge at Oakmont Country Club in the first group out at 6:45am on Thursday (8:45pm Australian time), while several Aussies have been paired together to tee off later in the day including Jason Day and Adam Scott at 2:20pm (4:20am Friday morning AEST).
Make no mistake, this is going to be brutal and perhaps not pretty to watch, but we’re confident at least a few of the seven Australians can give us something to cheer about over the weekend.
Day was suffering flu-like symptoms at The Masters in April and reports suggest the world number one may also be under the weather this week. Day will still be installed as one of the favourites by the time he tees off on Thursday no matter how he is feeling. If anyone can win a major while feeling crap, it’s Jason Day.
Scott openly admitted he played too much golf leading into the Masters where he finished a long way back. Having taken three weeks off to refresh, Scott would have been doing his homework at Oakmont that will largely depend on keeping the golf ball on the fairway. It’s hard to know what Scott will do this week but he should take confidence from his last two US Open’s, finishing top-10 in both.
While most pundits will most likely be on Day this week, Leishman is our pick for best Australian. A cloud over Day’s health does factor into our judgement but primarily it’s because of Leishman’s good form. Leishman is hitting the ball solidly again and on the back of two good finishes on the PGA Tour, we think he’s prime for another shot at a major trophy this week.
As the last Australian to win the US Open, Geoff Ogilvy grabbed a 10-year exemption for an automatic berth in the world’s toughest major when he won at Winged Foot in 2006. It’s remarkable Ogilvy hasn’t won another major since, and his loss of form over the last few years has been surprising.
Mike Clayton wrote an article at Golf Australia this week wondering whether Geoff Ogilvy still has the drive to succeed on the world golf stage any more. Ogilvy has played some great golf lately, interspersed with the odd, round-killing poor hole. But if we’re talking about winning a tournament with a score around even par, I wouldn’t rule Ogilvy out of the running by any stretch of the imagination.
Price has found his game over the last few years and had a great summer in Australia including a top-10 finish at the Australian Open but this will be a huge test for the 34-year-old from Sydney. Earning his spot in the US Open by winning one of the last qualifying events last week, Price played the 2014 US Open at the difficult Pinehurst gof course, this golf course won’t be any easier.
It was a last year’s US Open that 22-year-old Smith turned heads. A majestic eagle at the 18th hole saw Smith finish in a phenomenal tie for fourth place in his debut major championship. Smith has missed the cut in his last three starts but his form wasn’t exactly rosy heading to Chambers Bay last year either. Smith is a fighter but needs a solid opening round.
Clearly, Bowditch is struggling right now. Eight missed cuts from 15 tournaments this year doesn’t spell good times at Oakmont in his first ever US Open. Bowditch isn’t one to hide behind the bad form though and will be working harder than anyone to sharpen his wayward driver and get off to a good start.