Nerves of steel needed at brutal Oakmont
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
OAKMONT, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - This week's U.S. Open is being played at Oakmont Country Club on the outskirts of 'Steel City' Pittsburgh where, appropriately, nerves of steel will be required to tackle one of the world's toughest courses.
The iconic par-70 design by Henry Fownes has long been recognized as the most challenging layout in North America with its lightning-fast, heavily contoured greens, deep bunkering, thick rough and very few flat lies on the fairways.
Phil Mickelson, still searching for his first U.S. Open title after a record six runner-up spots in the championship, described it as "one of the most difficult golf courses" while Jordan Spieth said it was "the hardest test in all of golf".
Though rain has been forecast for Thursday's opening round, which would soften a layout running firm and fast during the tournament build-up, Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy did not expect that to be a significantly easing factor for the players.
"I'd say between having a little bit of rain in this forecast and not having rain might be a half-a-shot to a shot difference out here," the world number three told reporters on Wednesday.
"I really don't see it being that much of a factor. Rain or no rain on this golf course, it's still a very, very hard test of golf. It might soften it up a little bit, but it doesn't mean the scores are going to necessarily be that much lower.
"The balls might stay in the fairways a little bit more, and might hold on the green a little bit more, but it's still not going to make much of a difference."