The U.S. Open Championship is supposed to be the toughest test in golf every year. In 2015, the trek across Chambers Bay was frustrating for the players and ugly forviewers alike, as Dustin Johnson implodedJordan Spieth to thetitle.
The 2016 event at historic Oakmont will be even more brutal.
The Western Pennsylvania country club has hosted more U.S. Opens than any other course, with the most recent title won by Angel Cabrera in 2007 (with a score of 5-over par). If an avid golfer were to look at the scorecard for this year's event, they would probably chuckle at the absurdity of the layout. It's a reality for the best golfers in the world.
Here are five reasons why the event, starting Thursday on FOX, is can't-miss television:
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1. The scores willbe ridiculous
CBS Sports' Kyle Porter, and a bevy of others, have some grim predictions for the U.S. Open leaderboard.
Among them is the idea that only a handful (if that many) rounds will break 70, that at least one professional will be unable to break 90, and the winning score will be around 288 (even par is 280).
For a sport that typically sees red numbers and impressive birdie runs, Oakmont will likely crown its champion based on who can do the best job at saving par.
2. There is a par 3 that is nearly 300 yards
According to Oakmont's official U.S. Open scorecard, the eighth hole is listed at 288 yards. For a typical weekend golfer, this calls for a driver — even with the hole running substantially downhill. But for the pros, the hole will require a difficult choice between a fairway wood or long iron as they must get home in three shots to make a par.
With a long, long green and a flexible tee box, the hole could measure over 300 yards depending on placement.
3. There is a par 4 that is just barely 300 yards
For all of Oakmont's length (the course measures over 7,200 yards) it could be a short hole that determines the champion.
The 17th hole is a pesky little challenge and one that will be pivotal based on its position as the course's penultimate hole. Will players elect to lay up and hit a pitch shot to the difficult green? Or grab a wood and look to make an eagle? It will be fascinating to watch.
4.The field is stacked
Entering the U.S. Open fresh off wins are Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy. Those are the three best golfers in the world, each at the top of their games at the same time. Phil Mickelson, always a U.S. Open contender, almost made a comeback victory last week at the St. Jude Classic (he lost to Daniel Berger) and the rest of the game's familiar faces will be in tow as well (Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Justin Rose, etc).
Is this the week Johnson finally holds on? Will Ricky Fowler be able to carry over his 2015 Players Championship into a major title? Can Masters champ Danny Willett show he's more than a one trick pony? Only 72 holes of gut-wrenching golf will tell.
5. Oakmont might be the toughest course on the planet
Oakmont is striking fear into major champions. The greens are brutal — the length is, too. The rough is nearly a stroke penalty.
Mickelson, 46, looks to match Jack Nicklaus as the oldest major winner ever but knows it will be an uphill battle — not just against the field but the course, too.
"I really think it is the hardest golf course we've ever played," Mickelson told reporters in Memphis, Tennessee, last week. "A lot of golf courses, when it challenges you tee-to-green the way Oakmont does, it usually has a little bit of a reprieve on the greens, and you really don't at Oakmont."