Five Things: Look for more low scores Friday

A view of the 18th green and the clubhouse at Congressional Country Club on Friday, June 10, 2011.

BETHESDA, Md. – Friday’s second round at Congressional Country Club offers the prospects of unusually low scoring. Here’s why:

1.) Greens: One-quarter of an inch overnight rain has left the greens softer and more receptive. At the same time, they are quickening up marginally. Don’t be misled by the appearance of toastier turf. Thursday the greens ran, on average in the low-13s on the Stimpmeter. They’ve no picked up about 3-inches on average, thanks to the effects of double-morning mowing and rolling. Speeds range from 13 feet,1-inch at the par-4 third and eleventh holes up to 14-feet on the 14th green. They are also smooth – despite what a few players might be saying.. The will reward well-struck shots.

2.) No 10th tee blues: All the talk yesterday was the difficulty that half the field faced starting on a forced carry over water. There were seven balls in the morning group out of 39 players, thanks to a daunting shot of 199 yards, as the hole played, to the shallowest part of the green. Today the hole will play 219 yards to a very receptive back right hole location, which will make the opening tee shot for half he field a whole lot easier than Thursday. Today players can wail away with a rescue/hybrid or long iron rather than squeeze a 4-5-6 iron as they had to yesterday.

3.) 6th hole, par-5, 534 yards: Lots of risk/reward action here. Yesterday the hole played 579 yards to a back hole location and there were no eagles. The tees have been moved up 18 yards and the hole location moved up to the water’s edge front right by 27 yards. At 534 yards it’s easily reachable, though only with considerable risk to leaving an approach shot in the pond.

4.) 18th hole, par-4, 534 yards: That’s right. For the first time ever in a U.S. Open, a par-4 will play the same length as a par-5. That’s because on this legendary finishing hole they’ve tucked the hole way back right, a kind of super-Sunday placement. Watch for all kinds of wacky scores here as players squeeze their approach into a tiny peninsula of the green

5.) Firm bunkers: During practice rounds the greenside bunkers were soft and presented the occasional buried or fried-egg lie. Not any more, thanks to two bouts of rain that have firmed up the sand and created bunkers with some bounce for crisp recovery shots.

Prediction: More low scores today, more wild high scores on individual holes, more eagles than the “none” yesterday on the par-5s, especially with the par-5 9th hole moved up from 636 yards to 556 yards and the par-5 16th hole also moved up, from 583 yards yesterday to 546 today. That means collectively, the three par-5s are 163 yards shorter.

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