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Friday, June 19, 2015

First Impressions of Chambers Bay

After watching the first round of the US Open at Chambers Bay, I finally started to form some opinions about what to expect this week.

Besides beautiful views, that is.

While this may not be a true links course because of the elevation changes, it's clear that there are some real comparisons to be made.

The 1st hole at Chambers Bay

First of all, there certainly appears to be a real difference between playing the morning wave and the afternoon wave. I'll be interested to see if it holds up today but it looks like the best scores come from the morning wave. It seemed that players who shot -2 in the afternoon played considerably better than those who shot -2 earlier in the day. That could be big on Sunday afternoon; players going out early could put up a great round and make up a lot of ground.

The fescue-poa mix on the greens plays into that equation. According to the commentators on FOX, the fescue "goes to sleep" late in the day while the poa "wakes up" and makes little bumps on the greens. Putts don't fall as easily in the afternoon.

The winds also came up late in the day. Whether that's a regular phenomenon or just the weather this week is something I don't know, but it played a part in Thursday's scoring.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the first round was who got near the lead and who didn't. There were players I'd expect to play well in links-style conditions -- players like Rickie Fowler and Louis Oosthuizen -- who struggled badly at Chambers Bay. Likewise, players who haven't done well at majors and especially the Open Championship -- Patrick Reed and Francesco Molinari come to mind -- are playing well so far.

Granted, it's only one round but it gives me something to watch for going forward. I'll be interested to see if those patterns hold up at the end of today's round.