US Open 2016: Ultimate test Oakmont should favour the very best and Jordan Spieth's game gives him an edge over Rory McIlroy and Jason Day

Sam Torrance
Follow Sam
U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
Oakmont could suit world No2 Spieth (right) better than No3 McIlroy (Source: Getty)

I always consider the US Open to be the Major that is set up the best, fairest and hardest, and I certainly expect that to be the case with the venue this year being Oakmont.

The Pennsylvania course is fantastic, one of the finest in the world, and I have fond memories of playing there myself, but it is also extremely challenging and probably the toughest on the US Open circuit.

I vividly remember the Church Pews, an iconic 100-yard long bunker scattered with parallel grass ridges, and although I loved it, you spend much of the time at Oakmont at your wits' end trying to make par.

Read more: Strength, courage, class and two of the finest shots you'll see

That makes it well suited to the US Open, where they like a par score – usually set at 70 – to be a winning one.

This tournament – which starts on Thursday – is going to be the ultimate test, and for that reason I don’t think there will be many surprises or cases of players getting lucky. This is for the guys in form, the ones already playing great.

Why it could suit Spieth

With that in mind, I think it could be a week for defending champion Jordan Spieth.

Oakmont, with its high rough and very fast greens, is not necessarily one for the big hitters but it will reward accurate, strategic play and a good short game – which world No2 Spieth has.

The Texan is also extremely resilient, which helps in such a difficult setting, and has rediscovered his form lately with victory at the Dean and DeLuca Invitational last month. I make him the man to beat.

McIlroy and Day drawbacks

Spieth’s rivals in the big three of men’s golf, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, both prefer to overpower courses.

They are more than capable of adapting their games. Both can be very straight hitters and could play perfectly this week.



Rory McIlroy, Danny Willett, Rickie Fowler (1:24pm/7.09pm)

Hideki Matsuyama, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson (6.36pm/12.51pm)

Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott (7.20pm/1.35pm)

Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer (1.13pm/6.58pm)

Zach Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth (1.35pm/7.20pm)

Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson (7.09pm/1.24pm)

All times BST






However they are less naturally suited to Oakmont than Spieth or a master chess player like Jim Furyk, who was second here in 2007.

Beyond Spieth, Day and McIlroy, 2013 winner Justin Rose definitely has a chance as one of our finest players, while it might be time for fellow Englishmen Danny Willett, who is hunting back-to-back Majors, and last month’s PGA Championship winner Chris Wood to remind us what they can do.

Great entertainment

Elsewhere, I’ll be keeping an eye out for Bubba Watson, while it would be no surprise to see an Asian player high up the leaderboard given the continent’s spate of winners already this season.

Dustin Johnson came so close last year when he played the golf of his life only to three-putt the 18th and it’s hard to see him ever having a better chance than he did at Chambers Bay. This course is not for him.

The difficulty of Oakmont is sure to mean great entertainment, with plenty of movement on the leaderboard.

And the fact that six of the eight US Open winners at this course are World Golf Hall of Famers only reinforces my belief that the winner will be one of the very best.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

Related articles