Major Challenge Awaits U.S. Open Field at Rugged Shinnecock Hills

Kevin Stott

Monday, June 11, 2018 5:13 PM UTC

Monday, Jun. 11, 2018 5:13 PM UTC

The winner has shot below par in the last four U.S. Opens, but with the event returning to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in New York, will the streak end this time in the second major of the season?

Golf: 2018 U.S. Open Preview

The second of the four PGA Tour majors, the 118th U.S. Open, will tee off Thursday (4:30 p.m. ET, FOX) at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Shinnecock Hills, New York, the fifth time the event will be held on this course located 90 miles east of New York City on Long Island.

The first major of the year, the Masters in April in Augusta, Georgia, was won by 27-year-old American Patrick Reed, who shot a 15-under-par 237 to edge fellow Americans Rickie Fowler (-14) and Jordan Spieth (-13).

The British Open is set for July 19-22 at Carnoustie Links in Angus, Scotland, and the fourth and final major, the PGA Championship, is Aug. 9-12 at Bellerive Country Club in Town and Country, Missouri.

Here is the course layout for the mammoth 7,445-yard (6,808-meter) Shinnecock Hills Golf Course (par 70) with a hole-by-hole description link, the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club weather link and a link of the golfers' tee times for Thursday; a chart showing the 18 holes ranked from hardest to easiest (vs. par); Futures Book odds from online sportsbook Bovada; a list of the last 20 winners of this prestigious event; some fun facts about the U.S. Open and what we might be able to expect from the four days of golf.

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club Hole-by-hole Look Link (Newsday)

2018 U.S. Open Thursday Tee Times Link

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club Weather Link

2018 U.S. Open Winner Futures Odds

Last 20 U.S. Open Winners

U.S. Open Fun Facts

If there is a tie after 72 holes, there will be a new 2-hole playoff. Previous ties were decided by a sudden death playoff.

The No. 5 hole played as the easiest one in 2004.

The L4 winners of the U.S. Open were all under par (-16, -4, -5, -9).

The L3 winners of the U.S. Open were Americans (Koepka, Johnson, Spieth).

The last back-to-back U.S. Open winner was Curtis Strange (1998, 1999).

The youngest winner was John McDermott in 1911 (19 years, 10 months, 14 days old), while the oldest winner was Hale Irwin in 1990 (45 years, 15 days old).

Rory McIlroy (268) has the best all-time aggregate score (2011).

An American has W24 of the L35 U.S. Opens.

South Africa is second all-time winning-nation with 4 champions (Els 2, Goosen 2).

The 16th hole (616 yards) is almost 4 times longer than the 11th (159).

Almost half of the field will be players exempt from qualifying for the U.S. Open.

Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus have each W4 U.S. Opens.

U.S. Open Futures Betting Market

We can probably expect a score right around or a little bit under par and maybe a tight finish like the Masters, with possibly two or three golfers with a shot to win the title as they reach the 18th green on Sunday.

The Long Island weather doesn't look to be a problem, and with big and legendary names like Tiger Woods (16/1 to win 2018 U.S. Open, Bovada), famous U.S. Open near-miss kid Phil Mickelson (28/1), two-time event champion Ernie Els (300/1), 2014 champion Martin Kaymer (125/1), 2015 champion Jordan Spieth (13/1) and defending champ Brooks Koepka (20/1), everyone one could want to be there will try to make the cut on Friday. And for the lucky futures bettor who can find and wager on the ultimate winner, the payday is guaranteed to be big with so many golfers in the grassy pool to start.

Considered one of the most unforgiving courses and ranked at No. 3 by Golfweek in its Best Classic Courses list, Shinnecock Hills was designed in 1931. It is on the National Registry of Historic Places and will be a test to the players, with its lengthy fairways, tricky angles and often cruel and massive greens.

Many will ponder rhetorically if golfing icons Woods (80th on PGA Tour) and Mickelson (20th) — who has had near-miss wins in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Bethpage, Merion and here at Shinnecock Hills in 2004 — can win this tournament, and both actually can with the way they’ve both played this year although the futures odds for both seem appropriate. Mickelson, who will turn 48 on Saturday, won the WGC-Mexico Championship on March 4, and Lefty has the kind of putting skills that might help to overcome any potential sloppy approach shots.

At age 42 and with all he has been through, Woods is in the best form he has been in many moons. He has climbed the WGC Golf Rankings, but with a bad back and no major wins under his belt lately, winning the tournament may end up being Woods’ greatest achievement if he can somehow pull it off.

A solid first two rounds to gain confidence (and to make the cut inside the top 60 on Friday) will be crucial for Woods as well as Mickelson, and with top-ranked PGA players like odds favorite Dustin Johnson (#2 PGA ranking, won Sentry Tournament of Champions), 2011 tourney winner Rory McIlroy (#6, won Arnold Palmer Invitational), 2015 tourney winner Spieth (#5), Justin Rose (#3, won Fort Worth Invitational), Jason Day (#8, won Farmers Insurance Open, Wells Fargo Championship) and current world #1 Justin Thomas (won Honda Classic) in attendance, it certainly won’t come easy.

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