Jordan Spieth: Something 'closer to 5 to 10 under' will win 2017 U.S. Open

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Spieth: Something 'closer to 5 to 10 under' will win 2017 U.S. Open

PGA Tour

Jordan Spieth: Something 'closer to 5 to 10 under' will win 2017 U.S. Open

ERIN, Wis. – Jordan Spieth isn’t underestimating Erin Hills, but he doesn’t think a normal U.S. Open score will cut it here.

The World No. 5 spoke Tuesday at Erin Hills, relaying his thoughts on a course that he has played in competition before – a rarity among this field at this rookie U.S. Open site.

Spieth made it the quarterfinals at the 2011 U.S. Amateur here and could recall going bunker to bunker to bunker at the par-5 18th in getting eliminated. Otherwise, he said he felt it was a “pretty new golf course” to him and he doesn’t take much from course notes he may have scribbled down six years ago.

But Spieth, 23, has already seen the layout this week and is ready to offer up an early winning score. Will a new U.S. Open layout mean an unusual winning number? Most likely.

“I don’t see (even) par winning the tournament. I see closer to 5 to 10 under,” Spieth said. “Someone who has very good control of the ball off the tee will have plenty of opportunities to make birdies, given the conditions that we’re expecting. And I think the USGA is very much OK with that.”

Bombs away at Erin Hills, apparently.

Spieth qualified that it’s Tuesday and his opinion may very well prove off by the time the weekend hits. (“A
lot of people say that on Tuesday and you get to
Saturday and all of a sudden it’s 2 under.”)

Still, Spieth feels there isn’t much more that can be done at this point to max out the layout’s difficulty. And the forecast calls for only mild winds on a usually breezy Erin Hills, with rain interrupting periodically.

Moving away from an even-par score isn’t necessarily a change, though, that would doom Erin Hills as a first-time U.S. Open venue.

Chambers Bay, another first-time Open venue in 2015, had its detractors two years ago, but Spieth said he likes the design and bunkering of Erin Hills.

As for whether Spieth should get extra attention at Erin Hills after winning the 2015 Open at Chambers Bay? Not necessarily, and that oddly may be a good thing.

Spieth, whose length off the tee is around PGA Tour average, sees Erin Hills as more of a precision-based course whereas Chambers Bay played into long-hitters’ hands.

“Chambers was a much easier driving golf course and I thought it was more of a bomber’s paradise at Chambers Bay,” Spieth said. “I thought there were more forced carries that led to the same or wider areas that would leave it easier for those who could carry the ball
farther, which is why a lot of the guys in the top 10 that week were very long hitters.”

That description might change a bit after Monday evening and Tuesday morning deluges softened up the course. But Spieth’s point may still be valid, and regardless, he’s comfortable with his game after a T-13 and a T-2 in his last two starts.

As for whether Erin Hills is a true U.S. Open-style layout, red scores could indeed pop up more here. But accuracy being a key at this course?

This is starting to sound like a normal U.S. Open venue after all. What does Spieth expect will happen at a place that is in many ways still unknown?

“I think we could see anything,” Spieth said.

Definitely a U.S. Open. Five or 10 under? It could happen, but still get ready for plenty of carnage.

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