Erin Hills became just a bit easier on Tuesday, just two days before the start of the U.S. Open, when the decision was made by the USGA to trim the long, thick (and severely punishing) fescue on four different holes due to the amount of rain - which made the areas even more unplayable. The USGA explained the change in a statement.
"Going into this week we knew that mowing certain parts of the fescue rough might be required should we have the combination of high winds and heavy rain. After 1.5 inches of rain fell overnight, we followed through with our plan to mow limited areas of fescue on holes 4, 12, 14 and 18."
The conditions at Erin Hills, especially the fescue, have predictably been a point of contention (as is tradition at the U.S. Open). Earlier in the week, Kevin Na raised eyebrows in Wisconsin by bashing the design of the course, claiming in a video posted to Instagram that players will be lucky to simply find their ball should they hit it into the fescue. The company that designed the course responded to Na on Twitter, and noted that the fairways at Erin Hills are much larger than average PGA Tour fairways.
Upon learning of the change to the course in a press conference Tuesday, 2011 U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy was stunned - and said that players worried about the penalty of missing the fairway should just go home.
"Really? We have 60 yards from left line to right line. You've got 156 of the best players in the world here, if we can't hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home. These are the widest fairways we've ever played in a U.S. Open. Even the first and second cut is another ten yards on top of that. So if you've got 50 or 60 yards to hit into and you're complaining about the fescue that's wider than that, I don't think that's an issue.
I get that it's thick and whatever, but it's a hazard. If you put red lines just right along that people wouldn't complain, it's a hazard, and you'd go -- and so, I don't know, I just -- it's a U.S. Open, it's supposed to be a tough test. And if guys can't put it into play within a 50-yard zone I don't think they've got much to complain about."