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Will this US Open be as brutal as expected?

Max Homa plays in the traditional setting on Pinehurst No. 2.

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The difficulty of Pinehurst No. 2 was a big talking point at this week’s US Open, but as we prepare for the first round, do you think the issue has been dismissed? Or do you think we’ll see a much higher score than expected on Thursday?

Jessica Marksbury, senior editor (@jess_marksbury): No matter how difficult a golf course is supposed to be, there always seems to be someone who can shoot the lowest score. But that said, I think Pinehurst will show its teeth this week, and I expect that even the ratings will be considered a good round.

Dylan Dethier, senior author (@dylan_dethier): I am very concerned about the amount of green watering that seems to be going on. But if you believe the players, this thing is going to be brutal — in a good way. Tiger Woods talks about boys playing ping-pong. Wyndham Clark called the vegetable border Monday. Martin Kaymer, who won here last week, talking about how strong it looks this time. Those of us who like to watch the pros take on the dreaded test of the US Open are often disappointed come tournament time and find the course play easier than advertised, but I don’t think that will happen this week. I hope not. The winning score is less than three.

Jack Hirsh, assistant editor (@JR_HIRS Hello): I really like the six- to 10-under-par that has been winning US Opens of late. Yes, the greens are challenging and while they are watering the course now, as Dylan reports, it will take a lot more to soften the course with the high temperatures coming Thursday into Sunday. After the greens, the next defense of this golf course is long because you can escape something big. These guys will still have a lot of wedges into the greens. There will be plenty of birdies to keep the winning score in that scoring position, but also plenty of train wrecks to keep most of the field on the other side of par. Sounds like the US Open to me.

Sean Zak, senior author (@sean_zak): Accurately expressed. It’s all the players can talk about, a breath of fresh air from Valhalla last month, one caddy told me today, “I didn’t feel like a senior.” That’s because the ball was sitting where it hit the ground. There was no thinking, no hard work for the caddies. Players talk about the difficulty of the course because their brains are open. They should be. It’s tiring. The US Open. I don’t see the scores ballooning, really, but there is room for chaos, which is good. Have a fun weekend. Six under wins.

Zephyr Melton, assistant editor (@zephyrmelton): I’m sure the test will be tough, but I don’t see the scores being as high as they have been in previous Opens here, with only four players finishing below par. Since Saturday’s massacre at Shinnecock in 2018 (providing Zach Johnson’s famous “They lost the golf course”) speech the USGA has been a lot be careful about pushing things to the edge. His winning scores at the US Open since then have been 13-under, 10-under, and three times at six-under. I think the points won this year will be something for those six teams. Carnage is not very much in the DNA of the current USGA regime.

Josh Sens, senior author (@joshsens): The good news about this week is that the lessons won’t need to be manipulated to be reinforced. The green alone on No. 2 is enough defense to prevent scores from going into Valhalla’s red numbers, without having to cut pegs from goofy nobs or bake putts to fit. And because they are now bermuda (a change from the last US Open here in 2014) the course setup should be able to make the putts very tight without worrying about burnout. It should be firm but fair. By the end of the week, I suspect you will be able to count the total number of players under one category. Scottie Scheffler will likely be the lowest, at 7 under.

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