Chambers Bay U.S. Open rich with possibilities
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
(Reuters) - There is no shortage of compelling storylines ahead of next week's U.S. Open at Chambers Bay where the likely form of a struggling Tiger Woods is a major question mark on a links-style course that has sparked controversial debate.
Masters champion Jordan Spieth, aged 21, will spearhead a formidable challenge by an exciting crop of young guns seemingly set to dominate the game for the foreseeable future while world number one Rory McIlroy will bid for a fifth major title.
Perhaps the most heart-tugging topic heading into the 115th U.S. Open is whether or not Phil Mickelson can finally break through and win his national championship for the first time.
The American has been a runner-up at the U.S. Open a record six times, most recently in 2013 when he finished two shots behind England's Justin Rose at Merion, and he is yearning for the chance to complete a career grand slam of the four majors.
All of these varied storylines, however, will hinge on how well the players cope with the expansive Chambers Bay layout in Washington State where the vagaries of the weather will also be a major factor.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Chambers Bay has no 'gray areas' and golfers competing in the year's second major will either love or hate the par-70 venue, which can measure anywhere from 7,200 to 7,600 yards depending on course set-up.
"I can see why the first impression isn't as favorable for some, but I think the more you play it, the more you like it," five-times major winner Mickelson said after taking his first look at the site.
"I really like it. The first time you play it, it's like St. Andrews. You don't know where to go. You don't know what mounds do what to do the ball. Continued...