Els rates US Open at Shinnecock Hills as one of golf’s toughest tests

Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

South African legend Ernie Els believes that this week’s 118th US Open at Shinnecock Hills will provide one of the toughest tests in golf and deliver a great champion.

“The USGA (United States Golf Association) sets up golf courses the hardest of any of the Majors, so you have to bring your all-round game – your mental game, your physical game and then you have to have a little bit of luck here and there. Shinnecock is one of the great classic courses, so it will deliver a great champion,” said Els, who counts two US Opens (1994 and 1997) among his four Major titles.

Located on Long Island, New York, Shinnecock Hills is a links-style course with a storied history dating back to 1891. The club hosted the second US Open in 1896 when Scot James Foulis won, as well as the 1986, 1995 and 2004 editions won by Raymond Floyd, Corey Pavin and Retief Goosen respectively.

“It can be blustery here; conditions can change quite rapidly out there on the island. A linksy style of golf will be required there,” noted Els,  who will make his 26th consecutive US Open start this week on a special exemption by the USGA.

Hole 17, Shinnecock Hills (Photo by USGA/John Mummert)

Els stressed that it is impossible to ‘fluke’ a Major, especially at the US Open.

“I don’t think you can fluke yourself into winning a Major anywhere, especially the US Open which is set up the hardest of all the Majors. At the end of four days, if you haven’t shown any weakness, you deserve to win. You don’t fluke one of these tournaments,” he noted.

Els was speaking during the opening of the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in Saudi Arabia earlier this year. Located in the King Abdullah Economic City and managed by bespoke club management specialists Troon Golf, Royal Greens offers stunning views of the Red Sea and is slated to host a European Tour event early next year.

“I think this one will be one of the best courses in the Middle East. I’ve played most of the courses in the Middle East, from Dubai to Qatar to Abu Dhabi, but this golf course here will be one of the players’ favourites,” said Els.

Royal Greens Golf and Country Club

The yet-to-be-named European Tour event will be staged next January 31-February 3 and will feature World No 1 Dustin Johnson, reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed, English stalwart Paul Casey and 2018 Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn.

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