Azinger on Groupings, Playing in the U.S. Open and Shinnecock Hills

Yesterday on THE HERD WITH COLIN COWHERD, FOX Sports’ lead golf analyst Paul Azinger announced key groupings for the upcoming 2018 U.S. Open Championship on FOX and offered his thoughts on the top contenders and how they will fare at Shinnecock Hills.

FOX Sports’ coverage of the 2018 U.S. Open begins Thursday, June 14 at 9:30 AM ET on FS1. For the complete broadcast schedule, as well as biographies, photographs and archived press releases, please visit the USGA on FOX page of FOX Sports Press Pass.

Azinger on Tiger Woods playing alongside Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson:
“It’s a great chance for Tiger Woods to show off a little bit to these two guys, and I hope he comes into it with that attitude. Shinnecock is a really hard golf course, and you’re going to have to play both a power and a control game there. Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas are probably going to blow it by him, and I wonder if that’s going to affect Tiger. You know his ego, he loves to talk about club head speed and how hard he’s swinging – which is a miracle given his fused disc and all that. But I’m looking forward to that grouping. They’re all coming in confident, none of them have any baggage whatsoever. I don’t know in particular how they’re playing, since a couple of weeks can make a big difference, but they’re certainly all confident.”

Azinger’s thoughts on how the Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth grouping will fare next week:
“I think [Phil] has a shot. He’s going to be confident as well. He’s had success here [at Shinnecock] in the past. He could have won it in 2004 easily… Mickelson has the short game to play great on any given week. If he keeps it in play off the tee he can do it. McIlroy had a great Masters, but I’m sure he’s disappointed in the way he closed… But he seems to be playing well every week. That win at Bay Hill was fun to watch… And you never know with Jordan Spieth. He’s got the short game to play well anywhere, just like Mickelson does. That’s how you stand alone on the PGA Tour. When you go to the U.S. Open, you better bring your best touch, your best feel, your attitude. You better have a great strategy.”

Azinger on the U.S. Open versus other major championships and Shinnecock Hills:
“Some course every year, some championship every year is going to be the toughest one. It’s always been the U.S. Open There’s been a few when the players got way under par because of the conditions, but there’s not a tree at Shinnecock anymore, and I felt claustrophobic when I got there in 1986 – so it’s a different look. It’s so severe if you make a mistake. This year is unique – I’m not sure if it’s harder or easier but in the past there’s been rough all around these greens, and that’s not going to be the case this year…I can’t wait to see how that plays out. It’s a different USGA than the one I played, and that Curtis [Strange] and [Brad] Faxon and all of us played. The fairways are wider here. They’re addressing the issue of how far the ball goes and how far the players are hitting the ball. They still want them to hit driver, because there’s really two clubs you have to hit at a U.S. Open – and driving doesn’t always mean driver, sometimes it means hitting that 1-iron or 3-wood off the tee – but you have to put the ball in play and you always have to bring that putter.”