High-wind forecast for U.S. Open Round 1 prompts USGA course setup audibles


SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Mike Davis can’t remember ever calling as many “audibles” as the U.S. Golf Association setup team has for Round 1 of the 2018 U.S. Open.

Despite a nice drenching rain during Wednesday’s practice rounds, winds are forecast to gust as high as 30 mph Thursday.

“We have purposely slowed the greens down a little bit today, knowing the kind of winds we’re going to get tomorrow,” said Davis, the USGA’s chief executive officer. “We’ve also changed up some of the hole locations, just to make sure they’re in areas that can handle this kind of wind.”

While Wednesday afternoon’s soaking would soften up most golf courses, the combination of sandy soil, high winds and William Flynn’s steeply-sloped greens will have Shinnecock Hills playing fast enough. But by midday, any extreme winds could push things to the edge, including golf balls.

“I would also say that if we get some of the top winds that they’re predicting, it doesn’t matter how slow the greens are and how flat the surfaces are,” Davis said. “You will see balls blowing, and that’s just the nature when you get up into 30-mile per hour plus, which we might get gusts.”

Davis said different treatments will be in store for several holes, particularly those with long carries into the wind.

“We want it to be a stern test, but as you sit here today, you say, ‘well, what are we going to get tomorrow?’” Davis said. “And we’ve got to make sure that, to the extent, we can control it, that we have a setup that actually works.”

Thursday’s forecast calls for a 20 percent chance of precipitation until 8 a.m., with winds forecast to blow 12-18 mph out of the West (gusts from 18-24 mph). Later, winds will remain in the 15-20 mph range with gusts from 20-25 mph. The highest gusts are predicted around 2 p.m. when sunny skies are expected.

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