UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Browned-out and patchy, the greens at Chambers Bay certainly present a stark contrast to the typical putting surfaces at a U.S. Open.
According to several of the players, the greens are not performing like anything they're used to, either.
"It's pretty much like putting on broccoli," said Henrik Stenson, who followed a 65 with a 74.
Rest assured, the highlight reel of made putts this week is a short one. The surfaces, part poa annua and mostly fescue and dirt, have proved quirky and difficult to predict, especially around the hole. Tiger Woods ended his second round with three consecutive three-putts, including a 3-foot miss on his final hole, and Phil Mickelson had a trio of three-putts en route to a 74.
"The surface area around the hole is a bit challenging for everybody," Mickelson said.
Perhaps no player in the field has more experience on the greens at Chambers Bay than Michael Putnam, a local resident who played the first-ever round here back in 2007. Putnam also put the first ball into the air this week, but he won't be around for the weekend. Putnam took 40 putts during his second-round 77, after which he suggested the course needs to switch to entirely poa annua greens if the Open were to ever return.
“Poa is perfect around here. There is nothing wrong with poa,” he said. “Just make them perfect poa. Go look at Fircrest right now, or Tacoma, or any course around here. I bet you Sahalee has good greens.”
Stenson needed 38 putts, 11 more than his first round, and he described a three-putt on No. 9 as "putting down something that looked like the surface of the moon."
"It's really tricky on the greens, there's no two ways about it," Stenson said. "I don't know what it looks like on television, what I saw this morning, but I wouldn't say that that was pretty. I don't think the afternoon would look any better. It's just really tough to putt on that surface."