Familiar Territory

Normalcy returns to the US Open and the Olympic Club, thanks largely to the USGA's course setup and Webb Simpson's gutsy weekend play.

In the week after the grandstands and hoardings had been taken down from around the Olympic Club, you can imagine USGA Executive Director Mike Davis and his colleagues returning to their Far Hills, New Jersey headquarters and engaging in a collective ‘high five’ for restoring a sense of normalcy to the United States Open Championship.

Sure, heavy rains before the tournament had much to do with Rory McIlroy setting a bunch of all-time records at Congressional last year, and you can bet the USGA had in their minds a plan to avert such free scoring conditions so soon after. Davis says the USGA make no bones about the fact that they want their flagship tournament to be the most difficult test of golf that the players face all year – and with the San Francisco weather complying, it was unanimous amongst the elite field that they got just that. Olympic was firm, fast and, to borrow a phrase, hard as nails – just as any venue for the US Open should be.

"The Lake Course here at the Olympic Club played exactly the way that we believe a US Open Championship course should play," said Davis following Webb Simpson’s gutsy come-from-behind victory. "It delivered a tough yet fair test of golf to the very best players and examined virtually every part of their games ... this week was classic US Open golf, and it clearly identified a national champion who excelled in every challenge along the way."

The USGA’s setup of the golf course and the already demanding design at Olympic, which had been tweaked, extended and thinned of trees since 1998, the last time it played host to the championship, provided an event whereby only two players – Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell – were under par after three rounds. Eventual winner Simpson, with his belly putter working to full effect, lifted the trophy after posting a four-round total of one-over, helped by brilliant back-to-back rounds of 68 over the weekend.