UNIVERSITY PLACE, Washington (Reuters) - Chambers Bay will not suit every player at this week’s U.S. Open but Rory McIlroy has embraced the challenge posed by a links-style venue that suits his power game and high ball flight.
The Northern Irish world number one saw the par-70 layout for the first time on Saturday and was stunned by its ‘British Open’ feel with huge sand dunes, fescue grass, undulating greens and semi-blind shots from several fairways.
“I really didn’t know what to expect when I got here ... it’s a pure links golf course,” four-times major winner McIlroy told reporters on Tuesday before heading off for another practice round.
”Every part of this golf course is fescue. It’s really like playing a (British) Open championship in the United States ... apart from the fact that it’s about 20 degrees warmer. It plays more like a links course than some (genuine) links courses.
“I really like the golf course. It sets up well for my game. You’ve got to hit driver. It’s a course where you’re going to see a lot of guys hit fairways and hit greens but when you hit greens, you can still be 50, 60 feet away from the pin.”
Dry and mainly sunny conditions have been forecast for the rest of the week at Chambers Bay, which will result in a firm and fast course on which McIlroy says the ability to hit high approach shots into raised greens will be a major factor.
“Anyone that can get elevation on their iron shots and get a little spin on the ball, that’s the way you’re going to get it close to these pins,” McIlroy said.
”I think that’s the way I‘m going to do well this week.
”A place like this can separate the field a lot. This is the sort of golf course that if you’re just slightly off, it’ll magnify that. But it’ll really reward people that are hitting good shots and are confident and their short games are sharp.
“It’s a very long golf course, you’re wanting to hit shorter irons into these greens. If you can carry the ball like 295, 300 (yards) in the air this week, you’re going to have a big advantage.”
McIlroy will tee off in Thursday’s opening round with last year’s winner, Martin Kaymer of Germany, and South Korean Yang Gunn, the U.S. amateur champion.
Editing by Ed Osmond