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Chambers Bay greens getting mixed reviews

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SAN FRANCISCO – With the WGC-Cadillac Match Play being played on the West Coast in April, some players took a detour to scout Chambers Bay, site of June’s U.S. Open, this week and the reviews have been mixed.

Henrik Stenson made the trip to the Pacific Northwest on Sunday and decided to walk the course instead of playing it.

“It’s different. A lot of elevation changes. It’s a different animal, that’s for sure,” he said.

Ryan Palmer also made the trip on Sunday and played 18 holes with Brooks Koepka, and his take was not nearly as measured.

“Tee to green it is good. It looks good, it’s fair. Green wise, speed is the key. I heard the [2010] U.S. Amateur was a joke,” he said. “If it’s firm and fast it will probably be another joke. It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen or we’ll ever see.”

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On Monday at media day for the championship, USGA executive director Mike Davis suggested that the normal practice of showing up on Monday to learn the course will not work for this first-time major venue.

“The idea of coming in and playing two practice rounds and having your caddie just walk it and using your yardage book, that person's done. Will not win the U.S. Open,” Davis said. “This is going to take the players and their caddies really studying the golf course to have success.”

Chambers Bay architect Robert Trent Jones even suggested players would need as many as 10 practice rounds to fully grasp the nuances of the links-like layout.

“Not going to be many guys who are going to play 10 rounds before the U.S. Open,” Stenson said. “We don’t have that luxury to spend 10 days at a course. Which tournaments are you going to take out to go play there?”

Palmer had a slightly more direct take on the suggestion.

“Why would you?” Palmer asked. “What makes that a championship golf course if you have to play it 10 times before the tournament?”