What to watch for: Sunday's course setup

Rory McIlroy approaches his ball on the 15th hole during the third round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club.

A final round that threatens (or promises) to be a coronation, but you never really know. But some telltale things today will reveal a lot about the day.

1.) Rory’s tempo: Saturday he was perfectly measured, with the exact same pacing to his pre-shot routine, which was quick and efficient without being rushed or frantic. If he retains his focus and remains inside that box he’s been playing in all week, it’ll be cakewalk. If he gets antic and racy or his eyes start darting, almost anything is possible.

2.) Hole in one at 10: Mike Davis, newly anointed USGA executive director and the set-up guy for the U.S. Open, has some excitement in store for the back nine today. It starts with an incredibly receptive, concave front right hole location on the 214-yard, par-3 tenth hole that’s just crying out for a hole-in one. Anything hit within a ten-foot radius circle of friendship will funnel down toward the hole.

3.) Eagle action at 16: Normally 579 yards long, but Sunday it’ll play 563, with a very receptive middle-right hole location that is approachable (and hold-able) in two for the boldest players. In previous days the hole location has been far more elusive.

4.) Drama at 18: The hole location is in its traditional back-left position, but this time just over the little cross ridge. The point is to discourage a shy shot that stays low right, since getting to the hole from there will require a very tough up-and-over-putt. The goal will be to encourage the kind of aggressive play that Tom Lehman tried (and failed at) in 1997, when he yanked his 7-iron into the green and rinsed his chances of catching Ernie Els.

5.) Rain: Ideally, you’d like some competitive drama with many players in contention. Second choice would be an iconic walk anointing McIlroy as the next great thing in golf. The worst scenario is a rained-out Sunday afternoon, forcing a Monday morning finish. The odds are about 50-50 on that one.

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