UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – The USGA changed the 18th hole from a par 5 to a par 4 Friday, and the move didn’t set well with a number of players, including Jordan Spieth.
In the opening round, Chambers Bay’s home hole played as a 617-yard par 5. On Day 2, it was a 514-yard par 4 that played nearly a half-shot over par during the morning wave.
“I think 18 as a par 4 doesn’t make much sense,” Spieth said. “Of course, at the moment, when I didn’t hit the right shots, it’s going to make less sense. I’m not going to put a smile on and be happy with the way I played the hole.”
Spieth pulled his tee shot into a fairway bunker left, then hit a 9-iron too thin and clipped the lip.
As he climbed out of the fairway bunker, Spieth was overheard by TV microphones saying, “This is the dumbest hole I’ve ever played in my life.”
His ball traveled only about 20 yards, and then, from a severe downhill lie, he chased his third shot into a greenside bunker. He was unable to get up-and-down from there and walked off with a double-bogey 6.
Spieth’s main complaint with the hole stems from the fact that players can land a tee shot on the left-hand side of the fairway and still find the right bunker. Only a handful of players in the field – Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson, for instance – can fly the ball over the massive bunker on the right and leave themselves a shorter shot into the green, which is one of the most undulating on the course.
“For anybody else,” Spieth said, “it’s a five- or six-yard area.”
Only five players in the morning wave made birdie on the hole. Moving up the tee would allow players to either take a different line off the tee or hit another club.
“I thought it was a dumb hole today,” Spieth continued, “but I think we’re going to play it from there again, so I’ve got to get over that.”
Spieth wasn’t the only player who had a problem with the setup on 18, either.
Brad Fritsch, who made bogey on the hole, said this: “It’s not a great par 4. You are trying to carry it 275, but not run it out 320. With these fairways, it’s going to roll a lot.”
“Shame about 18,” Lee Westwood tweeted. “I know I made trouble but it’s a stupid par 4 and a great par 5.”
This is the first time in U.S. Open history that the USGA has alternated the par on the first and 18th holes. With the 18th as a par 4, the opening hole played as a 593-yard par 5. It still added up to a par 70 for the second round.