UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – There were no unexpected tees or tricked-up hole locations Thursday at the U.S. Open.
Instead, most of the complaints centered on something outside Mike Davis’ control: the quality of the putting surfaces at Chambers Bay.
Colin Montgomerie said the greens this week are “extremely poor.”
Sergio Garcia quipped that they’re “as bad as they look on TV.”
Even the diplomatic Rory McIlroy weighed in, saying, “They are not the best I’ve ever putted on.”
The greens at Chambers Bay are predominantly fine fescue, a surface that players have never seen for a U.S. Open.
Aesthetically, they look splotchy. Of greater concern to Davis, however, is how they play and how the ball reacts on them.
Davis and his team have found that the greens are bouncier in the morning, and as the afternoon wears on, they get smoother and drier.
Playing in the morning wave, McIlroy missed a couple of bouncy short putts and required 34 swats in all.
Garcia needed 33 putts, and then took to Twitter after his round to vent his frustration: “I think a championship of this caliber of @USOpenGolf deserves better quality green surfaces that (sic) we have this week but maybe I’m wrong!”
Earlier this week, Montgomerie told Sky Sports that the greens are “extremely poor” and that “a course of this demanding nature had to be in perfect condition and unfortunately it is not.”
Six greens were closed or covered during the fall and winter in hopes that they’d be in top shape for the championship. Fescue requires less water than most grass types, but it has thin density and is less wear-tolerant.
Mickelson noted Thursday that the green speeds varied from surface to surface, which can “wreak havoc with our touch.”
“You can kind of see it in the color and maybe make some adjustments,” Mickelson said. “That’s a big challenge for us, and it’s the only thing that I could possibly say is not just wonderful.”
Said Henrik Stenson: “There’s a few of them that are struggling a little bit, Nos. 1 and 4 in particular are a little iffy and some other ones aren’t quite good. You are going to get a little bit of a difference sometimes, but then again you get so many putts that are different anyway.”