BROOKLINE, Mass.—With the morning wave on the course at the U.S. Open, a bulletin was sent to the media that said the greens would be “syringed” with water before the afternoon rounds, if necessary.
Ah, yes, it’s a U.S. Open now.
The incredibly sloped greens at The Country Club in Brookline were pushed to the limit Friday at the 122nd U.S. Open, with players saying it was a big mental hurdle navigating the roller-coaster putting surfaces.
“The greens are going to be crispy,” Canadian Corey Conners said about the weekend. “There is a lot of slope on these greens and if they speed them up much more, it’ll be dicey.”
Conners finished at 4 over and missed the cut by one. Nick Taylor, Ben Silverman, and Roger Sloan also had early exits. Adam Hadwin, at 2 under, and Mackenzie Hughes, at 1 over, were the only Canadians to find the weekend.
Hadwin, who held the 18-hole lead after shooting a 4-under 66 on Thursday, struggled out of the gate for his second round. He was 3 over for after seven holes. But he drained back-to-back birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 (his 17th and 18th holes of the day) and is tied for 13th.
“I’ve played some good golf over two days (and) today I hung in there, which was key,” he said.
Collin Morikawa and Joel Dahmen are tied for the lead at 5 under. Five golfers are a shot back, including Canadian Open winner Rory McIlroy and defending U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm.
“I would expect just over the weekend for it to get a little faster and a little fierier,” McIlroy said. “You have to be pretty precise already, but maybe just a little more precise with everything.”
Hadwin admitted he had a late night Thursday after fulfilling plenty more requests as first-round leader than he’s used to.
“It was difficult to come down after the high of yesterday’s round,” he said. “That round could have slipped away pretty easily at points, and I just kept grinding.”
Hadwin has leaned into his usually strong short game so far this week. The key, he said, was to try to find the right spots on the sloped putting surfaces, especially with how fast they were getting through the early part of Friday afternoon.
“Personally, I hope the golf course gets tougher,” he said. “The way I’m playing I think it suits me.”
Matt Fitzpatrick, who is tied with Hadwin at 2 under and won the U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in 2013, said that poa annua greens tend to get “sketchy” normally because they can get bumpy.
The poa seeds, Conners said, tend to “pop” later in the day, which makes the slopes feel like they’re “crazy fast.”
Putting is going to be a key differentiator through the weekend. “It’s a very tricky golf course,” Conners said. “You can’t let your guard down on any shot or you’ll certainly pay for it.”
Sam Burns, also at 2 under, said the greens at The Country Club have an “old style” look to them, something the golfers are not used to on the PGA Tour week in and week out.
“There’s just a ton of slope in these greens,” Burns said. “Most of the time if you are hole high or past the hole, you’re going to have a difficult (shot). So trying to leave it in the correct spots around the greens, give yourself an uphill look.
“Just a little more to think about out there.”
Hadwin, inside the top 15 and looking for his best career result at one of golf’s big four tournaments, will have lots to think about. “When you get an above-the-hole putt, just try not to be aggressive,” he said. “It’s kind of how I play anyway though, which suits major championship golf.”
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The course could be the winner as things speed up at the U.S. Open