If you follow native Idyllwilder Brendan Steele on computer or cell phone, you may be wondering why he is not in the field for the FedEx St. Jude Children's Hospital Classic, as we earlier indicated. The reason is that after last Friday afternoon (when Brendan was required to sign up for this week's St. Jude), Brendan played two successful qualifying rounds for next week's U.S. Open. So he withdrew from the St. Jude to go to Pennsylvania to practice on the Oakmont Country Club course.
Brendan has never played Oakmont, which was the site of the 2007 U.S. Open before he came onto the PGA Tour. Oakmont is one of the very toughest courses in the world. Totaling some 7,200 yards and containing 210 sand bunkers, Oakmont features narrow fairways with landing areas heavily trapped on both sides, often by rows of "Church Pew" bunkers, and, of course, the anticipated, punishing U.S. Open rough. These are just a few of the scary features with which players must contend. Kent Steele, Brendan's father, remarked that an over-par score will likely not be far off the lead. I'm thinking that a player who's never played Oakmont before would do very well just to make it to the weekend.
If you want to get into the U.S. Open this year, search for and download a great free iPhone app entitled "USGA eProgram for the 2016 U.S. Open." It covers the whole course, hole by hole, with 3D hole overviews, fly-over views, and explanations of how players will try to to approach each hole. It'll be great using this tool with the PGATour.com website on which you can follow each shot Brendan makes on each hole, each day.
Brendan's tee times for the first two days of the U.S. Open should be available sometime during the late afternoon of Tuesday, June 14. Check back here then.
Jack Clark can be reached at [email protected]