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By Matt Oakes Sports Director, Columnist & Commentator // UNC 2013

Pinehurst Opining – Bubbalicious

By Matt Oakes Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:06 pm

We’re two days away from the opening round of the US Open. Yes, it’s exciting for us media types and fans alike, but for the competitors in this year’s field, Thursday may not be a day to remember, at least on the scorecard.

If Masters champion Bubba Watson’s comments at Tuesday’s press conference are to be believed, Pinehurst No. 2 is going to be a hellish examination of golf.

“I had 247 to the hole. It’s a par-4. So for me to hit a driver and me have a 3-iron into a par-4, it’s a fun golf course. So it wears you down. It wears you down mentally,” Watson says.

Now if those aren’t foreboding words for the rest of the field, I don’t know what would be. Bubba routinely drives the ball 320 yards off the tee and he’s still smacking mid to long irons into the greens. Uh oh.

Of course, Bubba doesn’t mind the length factor one bit. He’s probably licking his lips at the thought of what clubs guys like Jim Furyk and Mike Weir will be employing. If the track plays the full 7,562 yards – making it the third longest US Open in history – the size of the potential winners pool will likely shrink.

There are four par-4s over 500 yards, including one that comes in at 528 yards – the longest par-4 in US Open history.

There’s a par-5 measured at 617 yards. The par-3s are no joy either. Three of the four are over 200 yards.

But ‘Bombs away’ Bubba will be just fine with all that.

Then, on the other hand, Bubba could be sandbagging – scaring USGA skipper Mike Davis and company into backing down the severity of the course to avoid possible carnage. He wouldn’t be the first to go that route.

With the diabolical nature of the infamous No. 2 greens now coupled with the Goliath length of the holes, it’s no surprise Bubba’s predicting brutal competition conditions.

“I think this US Open will be the toughest we’ll play,” Watson says.

As much as the USGA likes to advocate otherwise, the officials do enjoy protecting even par this time of the year. So don’t be surprised yet again, pending weather conditions and course set-up, to see an over par score claim the trophy by the end of Sunday’s round.

Let’s remember that the cut on this course in 2005 was 9-over. No joke. And that course wasn’t nearly as monstrous. Get ready for some rounds in the 80’s on Thursday.

But at least one golfer won’t be having nightmares just yet, because one thing’s for sure – Pinehurst, with its added length and demand for creative recovery shots, is bound to be ‘Bubbalicious’ this week.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @moakes3

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