So you’re not a fan of LACC and its low US Open score? Read this

LOS ANGELES – Min Woo Lee may be, pound for pound, the tallest hitter in this week’s US Open field. But such context was likely ignored after the young Aussie made the longest par-4 in Championship history look more like a pitch-and-putt, launching a 407-yard drive and chipping to 13 feet for his birdie at Los Angeles Country Club’s 555 yard 16th hole.

A few of the Twitter responses confirmed it:

The venue is terrible.

Almost like he’s just playing a local country club course.

This is what the USGA asked for.

Yes, LACC isn’t winning over all fans this week after it posted the lowest scoring average in a single US Open round (71.3) by nearly a full stroke and allowed not one but two players — Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele — to break Johnny Miller’s long-standing record of 63 by shooting an 8-under 62. But what do the competition think of George Thomas’ iconic layout so far?

At least some of them call the early wave of criticism unjustified.

“I couldn’t disagree more,” said Nick Hardy, who is playing his fifth US Open. “I think the USGA deserves a lot of credit for the setup. I think they killed it with this one because they rewarded players who play well, and that’s what we want to see as players. … It obviously should be tough and everyone wants to see carnage, but the set-up is fantastic.”

Added Harris English: “I like how they don’t set it up to force us to score. It’s just setting it up the way it is and whatever you shoot, you shoot. I think ​​that the players really like the setup.”

There’s no ignoring the fact that the LACC was historically achievable in Round 1. And appreciation of golf architecture is, after all, in the eye of the beholder. Not to mention the club itself doesn’t have the most welcoming reputation and the starting tee vibe is, to put it kindly, isolated. All that is fine. All opinions are welcome here. But to discount the course after 18 holes is to ignore many of the variables. A light rain fell on the property in the morning and a thick marine layer remained overhead throughout the day, widening the already inviting fairways and keeping the greens soft. There was little or no wind. The pair of behemoth par-3s, Nos. 7 and 11, played up and both shorter than 260 yards.

And let’s not get into a modern equipment debate.

“When the best players in the world have optimal scoring conditions like we had this morning, we knew the results would be good,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA senior executive director of championships. “We didn’t know how well.”

Additionally, the USGA had to err on the side of caution given its history of going over the line with its setup, or as Zach Johnson said in 2018 at Shinnecock, losing the golf course. Of course, the LACC could have been set up for the opening round with length and more difficult pins. But what if it was, and then the marine layer lifted and the pitch unexpectedly baked out? Round 2 may have just started and players would surely complain. (OK, maybe many viewers would prefer that; fair enough.)

Full field scores from the US Open

“I’m sure yesterday they didn’t know what they had,” said Padraig Harrington. “Because it’s the first time here in a long time, I think they were a little afraid that they might make it too difficult.”

Hardy asks the question, “Who cares what the result is?” Charley Hoffman adds, recalling past US Opens, “I don’t think winning scores … it’s always names.” And some argue that even with a number of players deep in the red, many of them are headline names in elite form – and playing much faster than anyone expected.

But not every player runs to LACC’s defense.

“I’m not a big fan of this place,” Brooks Koepka said Friday after a 71-69 start. “I’m not a big fan of blind tee shots, and then I think there are just some spots where no matter what you hit, the ball just ends up in the same spot. I think it would be more fun to play like a regular round than it would be a US Open. I mean there are, what, two 8’s [unders] yesterday. It does not happen.”

Added Rory McIlroy, who is 8 under overall: “I’m surprised.”

Appearing Thursday night on the Golf Channel, Bodenhamer was hoping for a “spiced up” golf course on Friday. But he added that the USGA would not force anything despite having the ability to “do things that would make it stupidly difficult.”

For Round 2, the USGA mowed and rolled the greens while applying water in limited spots. It also stretched the LACC by nearly 200 yards to 7,423, with Nos. 7 and 11 playing at 299 and 297, respectively.

“I hit full 3-woods and just begged them to move on,” Andrew Putnam said.

As the marine layer lifted, the sun shone and some wind finally arrived, conditions improved in the afternoon. Friday’s morning wave was certainly – and perhaps unfairly – lucky, although at least the 2nd round scoring average rose to a more respectable 72.9, and Fowler could manage just two more shots (on eight birdies and six bogeys!) US Open the record with a 10-under 130 mark through two rounds.

Still no brute is LACC, but its variety and design mixed with the best players in the world will continue to make for a fun weekend. And for those who enjoy carnage, there’s a chance for that too. There is no moisture on the horizon and while Bodehamer was adamant he would not be upset if the leaders continued their onslaught at level, a 20-under winner “wouldn’t be ideal for me.”

Expect the USGA to turn off the hoses and let these greens harden. (Back, baby! Back!)

And even if the winner still ends up in double figures, it will at least not be a cakewalk.

“The course has played maybe a little easier than everyone thought it would,” McIlroy said, “but I wouldn’t be surprised Saturday/Sunday to see it bite back.”

Added English: “They can get them as firm and fast as they want and put those sticks in some tough spots. It’s going to be fun. The tough is still going to be punishment and I’m excited…

“I think everyone is going to get the US Open they’ve been wanting to see.”

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