SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – This narrow strip of eastern Long Island can get quite cramped with traffic on most occasions, but the presence of the U.S. Open takes the gridlock to a whole new level.
The first morning shuttle Tuesday from the media hotel in Islandia, N.Y., took 2 ½ hours to go the 40 miles to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. U.S. Junior Amateur champion Noah Goodwin missed his practice tee time on Monday after what is a 16-minute drive in normal traffic from his hotel took an hour and 40 minutes.
“There’s a good chance that someone might miss their time,” said Tiger Woods, who is staying on his 155-foot yacht, named Privacy, in nearby Montauk. “You get a little traffic, a little fender-bender, it’s not inconceivable someone could miss their time.”
Then you have Jason Day, who has his RV on site.
“I think a lot of people have been struggling with traffic coming in,” Day said, “and I’m about 30 seconds away from the parking lot, which is nice.”
The new playoff
Jordan Spieth, the 2015 U.S. Open champion, appeared shocked when he was informed at his pre-tournament news conference that the Open’s playoff format had changed.
“It’s still 18 holes, right?” he asked.
No, it’s two holes, he was told.
“Either way, I guess strategy changes a little from an entire round, but I honestly had no idea that it even changed,” Spieth said. “I was evening looking at a weather forecast for Monday thinking, what’s it look like if you happen to work your way into a playoff? So it shows you what I know.”
The U.S. Open was the last major to conduct an 18-hole Monday playoff in the event of a tie after 72 holes but the U.S. Golf Association decided in February to implement a two-hole aggregate-score playoff at the conclusion of Sunday’s play in all of its stroke-play championships.
Reaching the limit
The USGA added two qualifiers from the Official World Golf Rankings and four alternates from last week’s sectional qualifying to round out the field of 156 players that will begin the Open on Thursday.
PGA Tour players Emiliano Grillo (No. 52) and Byeong Hun An (No. 57) earned a spot in the Open as the only players in the top 60 of the rankings as of Monday not already in the field.
The four alternates added were PGA Tour competitors Scott Piercy and Ted Potter Jr., in addition to Rikuyo Hoshino from the Japan PGA Tour and Ryan Evans, who played last year on the European Challenge Tour. Piercy finished tied for second at the 2016 Open won by Dustin Johnson.