Victor Perez, Michaël Lorenzo-Vera, Romain Langasque and Paul Barjon are the four French people at the start this Thursday of the 120th US Open.
Never had there been so many French golfers engaged in this Major, known as the most difficult of the four Grand Slam tournaments (with the Masters, the British Open and the USPGA Championship). And even more this week as the West Course of the Winged Foot Golf Club is compared to a real monster. Victor Perez, Michaël Lorenzo-Vera, Romain Langasque and Paul Barjon are the four French at the start this Thursday of the 120eUS Open in history disputed (behind closed doors) on the side of Mamaroneck (New York).
This 6,837-meter par 70, located north of New York, is indeed one of the toughest courses in the United States. This is the sixth time he has hosted a US Open (he also received the 1997 USPGA and 2004 US Open Amateur, won by Davis Love III and Ryan Moore respectively). Only once has the winner, Fuzzy Zoeller in 1984, posted a final score under par (- 4). This was not the case, far from it, of the other illustrious laureates such as Bobby Jones (+6 in 1929), Billy Casper (+2 in 1956), Hale Irwin (+7 in 1974) and Geoff Ogilvy (+5 in 2006).
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Designed by AW Tillinghast, one of the rare golf architects to enter the Hall of Fame, inaugurated in April 1923, then revamped in 2017 by Gil Hanse, to whom we owe the course of the Rio Games in 2016, it is worldwide known for its raised, steep and ultra-fast greens, but also for its very deep rough. The victory of the American Hale Irwin in 1974 had also been nicknamed “the massacre of Winged Foot” as the players had experienced a little “hell on earth” for four days. The cut was thus fixed at… + 13! Unheard of in modern times. Irwin had stressed just after his victory that he “had never played a course as difficult as Winged Foot”. Another player had amused himself by recalling that he had “struggled to find his ankles in the rough, let alone the ball”.
“We’re going to have to be smart.”
“The greens are very steep, the roughs are very thick, warns Paul Barjon (27), member of the Korn Ferry Tour, the second US division, which is taking part here in his first Major. Monday, during my reconnaissance, there was already a light breeze and the greens were not yet really firm. In my opinion, they are not going to water them in the next few days… We’ll have to be smart. It’s a course where you tell yourself you have to stay short of the flag most often, but there are a lot of very steep places at the entrance to the greens and the ball goes down. There, we end up with a chip of 30 meters to negotiate. False dishes here can quickly trap you. When we find ourselves in the rough, we will try to go 100 meters and get closer to the green and hope to putt up from there… We cannot take a 5 iron here and put the ball on the green. It’s impossible ! “
In 2006, Tiger Woods, one of the favorites to win this week, had surrendered two 76 (+ 6) cards and did not cross the cut. A few weeks later, he won the British Open at Royal Liverpool with a total score of – 18!
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