06252017

‘It’s supposed be tough’ – cutting the rough at US Open frustrates McIlroy

McIlroy

McIlroy believes the width of the Erin Hills fairways makes the rough a fair hazard

Rory McIlroy has criticised the cutting of heavy rough two days before the start of the US Open after players posted videos of the knee-length grass.

The tall, thick fescue was removed from four holes at Erin Hills on Tuesday.

The United States Golf Association (USGA) said the decision was “based on weather” and not player feedback.

“You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here,” said McIlroy. “If we can’t hit within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

Fescue was cut from holes four, 12, 14 and 18 on Tuesday as organisers believed wet weather made the areas unplayable – especially with more rain forecast for the tournament days.

The world number two was shocked when told about the move by reporters, suggesting the width of the fairways at the Wisconsin course made the thickness of the rough a fair hazard.

“We have 60 yards from the left line (of the fairway) to the right,” added McIlroy, 28.

“These are the widest fairways we’ve ever played in a US Open. Even the first and second cut is another 10 yards on top of that.

“I get that it’s thick and whatever, but it’s a hazard. It’s a US Open, it’s supposed to be a tough test. And if guys can’t put it into play within a 50-yard zone I don’t think they’ve got much to complain about.”

Who has complained about the rough?

US Open venue Erin Hills is shorn of rough<!–

Greenkeepers removed fescue from four holes at Erin Hills on Tuesday

England’s Lee Westwood posted a humorous video of his caddie crawling through the rough before emerging with his ball – but several players have criticised the depth and thickness of the rough more vehemently.

American Kevin Na was particularly scathing about the set-up produced by the USGA.

In an Instagram video, the world number 68 took two swings at his ball in the rough, barely moving it, before adding: “Why can’t we have a lot of the past US Open winners get together and set up a major? I’d like to see that happen.”

Course designers Hurdzan Golf responded on Twitter: “Dear Kevin, Don’t hit in the rough. Problem solved. Sincerely, Planet Earth. P.S. Fairway width at Erin Hills is 2-3 times most PGA Tour stops.”

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Spieth agrees with McIlroy

US Opens have long been designed to be exacting tests by the USGA and this year’s course is the longest in the championship’s history at over 7,700 yards.

The USGA has regularly been criticised for the set-up of their championship, notably the thick rough at Winged Foot in 2006 and Bethpage in 2009 and the greens at Shinnecock Hills in 2004 and Chambers Bay in 2015.

However Jordan Spieth, who won that US Open at Chambers Bay, was surprised by the move, stating the rough was “not unplayable”.

“I don’t think the golf course is unfair, by any means, because of the fescue,” said the two-time major champion.

“We have a wide enough area to hit and you need to drive the ball well in order to win a US Open. I think that’s a fair thing to say.”

The tournament begins on Thursday with world number one Dustin Johnson favourite to defend the title he claimed in 2016.

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