University Place course will be the site of the U.S. Open, where Phil Mickelson will chase the career grand slam
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Next on the major-championship tee: Chambers Bay.
With the Masters ending Sunday, the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay is the next golfing major, and just two months away.
For Danny Sink, the championship coordinator for this U.S. Open, this is the biggest milestone yet on the long journey that began when he moved to the area nearly two years ago to begin full-time preparations.
That’s because the golf world will shift its focus from Augusta to a relatively unknown course in University Place, and that Sink says will “ratchet the excitement to another level.”
Puyallup’s Ryan Moore, who shot a 69 Sunday to finish tied for 12th for the best finish at Augusta in his career, has a house “about 15 minutes from Chambers Bay.”
He is the only local player who will undoubtedly be exempt into the U.S. Open (several others will try to qualify), and he understands that he will be one of the faces of the tournament. He has been looking forward to this U.S. Open for a long time.
“I think it’s great to have a tournament in your backyard,” Moore said. “It’s pretty awesome and it will be fun to have the local crowd out there to cheer me on. And I might get as many cheers as Phil (Mickelson). Well, probably not, but still … ”
The vast majority of players already exempt for the championship know little to nothing about Chambers Bay.
“It’s very hard to prepare for something you don’t know anything about,” said Graeme McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open winner. “It’s very difficult. I’ve got a good schedule between now and then. We’re in a golf season now so I will be sharp from a game point of view. I am going to go out there early (and) going out there the weekend before to Bandon Dunes (in Oregon) and Chambers Bay and get a little West Coast golf in in those type of conditions.”
One contender who does know the course is Masters winner Jordan Spieth, whose caddie, Michael Greller, is from University Place and is a former caddie at Chambers Bay.
Spieth played the course during the 2010 U.S. Amateur, failing to advance to match play. He also was at the course for Greller’s wedding in 2013, skipping a World Golf Championship event to be there.
McDowell said he is excited the U.S. Open will be on a links course, similar to the courses where he is from in Northern Ireland.
“I think the guys will like it,” said Patrick Reed, who played in the U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay. “ We are all good at adapting and playing different golf courses.”
No one will have more at stake at Chambers Bay than Phil Mickelson, who can become the sixth player to complete a career grand slam.
He has finished second in the U.S. Open six times, but has never won the event.
“I think I’ll spend a little time at Chambers Bay,” he said. “But really, I don’t think I will spend an inordinate amount of time on the golf course. When I played well and won at Muirfield in 2013 (for the British Open), I really didn’t spend an inordinate amount of time on the golf course. I just got my game sharp, and I think I’ll probably take that approach more with Chambers Bay.”
McIlroy wins duel with Woods
Rory McIlroy had too much ground to make up to threaten Spieth, but he was seven shots better than playing partner Tiger Woods on Sunday.
McIlroy shot a bogey-free 66, tied for the best round of the day and finished tied for fourth at 12 under. He was 15 under in his last 45 holes.
Woods shot a 73 and hurt his wrist on the ninth hole when he hit a tree root.
“A bone kind of popped out and the joint kind of went out of place, but I put it back in,” he said in a television interview.
The tie for 17th was his best finish in an event that counts on the PGA Tour since 2013.
• Mark O’Meara, 58, shot a 4-under 68 Sunday and finished tied for 22nd at 2 under.
“That shows you how tough the Champions Tour is if he’s not winning regularly,” said O’Meara’s playing partner, Steve Stricker, who also had a 68 Sunday and tied for 28th at 1 under.