default_eblnews.jpg

Oakmont Country Club in western Pennsylvania has a reputation for brutality, as much as any beautiful, green place with manicured grass can.

The Oakmont course consistently winnows out all but the best over a 72-hole tournament, and six of the champions from the previous eight US Opens held there are World Golf Hall of Famers.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, 22, of the United States enters with top-five finishes in his last five major tournaments, and ranks number two in the world as of June 5.

Since Spieth's US Open victory at Chambers Bay, Washington state, Australian Jason Day, 28, has won seven tournaments including the PGA Championship in August and zoomed to the world number-one ranking.

Both are the calibre of golfers who can find themselves in the last round on Sunday at Oakmont, with its 210 bunkers on the way to unforgiving greens.

The last US Open at Oakmont in 2007 saw Argentina's Angel Cabrera finish 5-over to edge out a one-stroke victory over Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. The eight previous Opens at the private course east of Pittsburgh have seen only 23 players finish under par.

Oakmont Country Club's 1903 course is hosting its ninth US Open, on top of five US Amateurs, three PGA Championships and two US Women's Opens. The 7,254-yard, par-70 links regularly rank among the very toughest in America.

The par-4 hole 3 is famous for its diabolical "church pews" bunker, which runs the length of a football pitch off the left side of the fairway. The trap holds a dozen perpendicular grass berms, ensuring that any errant shot will be stopped in its tracks and - as punishment for the sin - followed by a long, challenging chip out of the sand.

The tournament winner will collect 600 points toward the FedEx Cup, the PGA tour's championship trophy, which Spieth won last year.

Other PGA young guns with high hopes include number-three Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who already holds four majors at 27; fifth-ranked US player Rickie Fowler, who remains on the hunt for his first major; and England's Danny Willett, who ranks ninth, fresh off his first major at the Masters in April.

Still looking to complete his career Grand Slam is 45-year-old Phil Mickelson, who has a record six second-place finishes in 26 starts at the US Open.

Oakmont opens for practice rounds Monday-Wednesday. First-round tee times start at 6:45 am (1045 GMT) Thursday.

Practice rounds on Tuesday could be interrupted by storms, and thunderstorms are forecast to mar the first day of play on Thursday, with a further chance of rain Friday. After the cut, the outlook for the weekend is excellent.

Japanese youngster Hideki Matsuyama and Spanish veteran Sergio Garcia, both with PGA tour victories this year, will be looking for their first major championship.

Tiger Woods recently announced that he was "not physically ready" for the rigours of a four-day tournament, and will miss the US Open for the third time in six years. The winner of 14 majors - including three US Open trophies - is recovering from two back surgeries last year and has not competed since August.

The withdrawal by Woods, whose mother is a native of Thailand, opened a spot for the next player on the alternate list, who turned out to be 23-year-old Thai golfer Thitiphun Chuayprakong.

The US Open field is expected to include all but one of the world's top 60, after Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee, ranked 51st, pulled out of the tournament last week.

Entering from the Japan sectional qualifier, Chuayprakong will be playing in his first major, after booking his first career Asian Tour victory last month at the Bangladesh Open.

Related stories

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.