Tiger, Phil, Rory and More Can’t Agree on the Keys to Winning the U.S. Open at Shinnecock

Jun 14, 2018 10:45 PM EDT

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Rory McIlroy

The Highlights

  • The best golfers in the world were all asked what it would take to win the U.S. Open at Shinnecock, and they were all over the map with their answers.
  • To summarize: Players said they will need to hit it long off the tee, keep it in the fairway, utilize the wind, hit greens in regulation and keep the ball away from precarious spots on the greens.

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — What’s the key to winning this week’s U.S. Open?

On the eve of the opening round here at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, that’s still the question on inquiring minds, as everyone wants to know which aspect of the game will serve as the key component to success.

Well, luckily for us, some of the world’s best players answered this question, once and for all.

Justin Thomas: “Putting it in the fairway is definitely going to matter more than anything. … It’s just not a place where you get the ball on the ground and it rolls forever. They had some good rain last week, and that’s just how it is right now.”

Patrick Reed: “If you miss a fairway, it’s thick rough, sometimes having to hack out and chip it back to the fairway. The big defense here is the wind.”


Brooks Koepka: “It all kind of depends on the wind, to be honest with you. … The fairways are pretty generous. You should be able to hit them, but it will really be a second shot golf course.”

Dustin Johnson: “I think you’ve really got to hit good iron shots this week. … The course is pretty long. You don’t really get too many wedge shots. I feel like I hit a lot of mid-irons and even a couple long irons into some of these holes, depending on the wind.”

Rickie Fowler: “If you can hit a lot of greens in regulation out here, I think that’s going to bode well, but that’s also going to reflect on how you’re driving it. For me, the first thing is get the ball in play, get the ball on the short grass to give ourselves a chance to hit these greens.”

Jordan Spieth: “You’re hitting off different slopes. You have to work. You have to play in the wind. You have to work certain ball flights to hold greens. You can’t get away with one ball flight all the time. You kind of have to maneuver it around off different slopes and winds. It just requires more of an artistic approach.”

Rory McIlroy: “Even if you’re leaving yourself back and maybe hitting a couple of extra clubs into these greens, it’s not such a bad thing. I’d rather be doing that than hacking my way out of the rough.”

Phil Mickelson: “The chipping and short game around the greens are going to be a huge factor this week. The challenge of the greens being extended and all the contours will continue to take balls further from the hole.”


Tiger Woods: “We’ve got so many different shots that we can play any of these greens and around these greens. … It doesn’t just have to be a high towering shot. We can utilize the ground and have that be an ally.”

Jason Day: “If you’re off the greens, even if you’re just like a couple yards off the green, they go up a slope, and they go into like a peak, and then they go down. So it’s very difficult to either putt or chip them close because the playing surfaces aren’t clean, per se, because this golf course is very old.”

Justin Rose: “Obviously, there’s a lot of severe places where the run-offs take the ball a long way away from the pin, but, I think there’s room to play it, which I think is going to be fun for everybody this week.”

So, there you have it — straight from some of the world’s best players.

In order to succeed this week, players will need to hit it long off the tee, keep it in the fairway, utilize the wind, hit greens in regulation and keep the ball away from precarious spots on the greens.

No big deal, right?

Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to hole a few putts this week, either.

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