PINEHURST, N.C. —
After shooting an impressive 1-under-par 69 on Thursday in his first U.S. Open round, Harris English found himself in a tie for 6th place in the tournament’s early going.
“It was really good,” English said of his first round. “But my caddie (Brian Smith) told me that was not a U.S. Open right there. That was a lot easier and you had to bear down.”
Unfortunately for the 24 year old, Friday’s second round and Saturday’s third round did not follow suit on a harder, faster golf course at historic Pinehurst No. 2.
English’s pair of 5-over-par 75s won’t get him a late tee-time today but he knows he’s facing one tough course, especially in his first time playing in his country’s national championship.
“I feel like it’s so much harder, especially playing Pinehurst,” English said. “This is the premiere U.S. Open golf course, with the greens. It’s just really hard.”
One of the elements that make it so difficult are it’s fast, elevated greens.
“They’re twice as big as they actually play. You’ve got low areas in the middle of the greens where you’ve got to hit it or your ball is just going to go off the green,” English said.
That happened to English many times on Saturday during a round which proved challenging from start to finish.
“A lot of my good shots today bailed off the green and I had a brutal up and down,” English said of his ensuing chip and putt. “It’s really hard to keep your ball on the green. If you miss the green it’s hard because those lies around the greens are tough, grainy, really thin, and you’ve just got a small area to hit it to. Every hole. Every green is brutal.”
So brutal in fact that English, who is a relatively long hitter, could not reach the greens on two par 4s with a 3-iron in his hands on Saturday. At Nos. 4 and 16, English experienced that unfamiliar predicament. But he knows that incredibly long par-4s are just part of the U.S. Open test. And one won’t be playing par-4s over 520 yards on any regular basis.
“I did it twice today where I hit 3-iron short, but it was just a brutal golf course,” he said. “They’ve set it up really tough and it’s one of the hardest tests of golf I’ve ever played.”
The United States Golf Association (USGA) does typically set up this tournament as the hardest that these players will see each year.
As English heads into today’s round, he’s looking to find some good takeaways from a challenging week at one of golf’s sternest tests.
“I’ll take kind of the same mindset, be aggressive,” English said. “I’ve really got nothing to lose. I’ve just got to go out there and see if I can get it going. If not, I’ll get some good experience and be back next year.”