Graeme McDowell uncovers insider secrets of Chambers Bay

Past champion Graeme McDowell believes he may have found a key to unlock the secrets of the little-known Chambers Bay course, venue for next week’s US Open.

Graeme McDowell uncovers insider secrets of Chambers Bay

Just a handful of players who will tee-up in Washington State have any knowledge of the course headed by American Peter Uhlein who captured the 2015 US Amateur championship on the suburban Tacoma layout.

Others who competed alongside Uihlein were Patrick Reed and current US Masters champion Jordan Spieth, who was then just 16 and shot a second round 83 to miss the Chambers Bay cut by six shots.

Spieth afterwards remarked: “The course was ridiculously difficult.”

However McDowell, as winner of the 2010 US Open further south at Pebble Beach, hopes he’s on a repeat winner in talking with Chambers Bay course designer, Robert Trent Jones Jnr who designed the course in 2007, laid out along Pugent Sound.

“One of my business partners is into golf course development and knows well Robert Trent Jones Jnr, who designed Chambers Bay and has spent a lot of time with him, so Robert Trent Jones Jnr offered up some time for me to meet with him and hopefully solve the Chambers Bay puzzle,” said McDowell ahead of teeing up at this week’s PGA Tour stop in Memphis.

“I was hoping to walk the course with him but I didn’t have the time as I decided to compete this week in Memphis but I feel it can only be beneficial in speaking with him before we actually tee-up in the US Open.

“By the sound of things Chambers Bay is a lengthy understanding process and chatting with Robert Trent Jones Jnr may help unlock some of the course’s secrets.”

McDowell was back in action last night, carding a 76 in the first round of the St Jude Classic in Memphis to leave him six over. Brooks Koepka and England’s Greg Owen were the early leaders, with six under par rounds of 64.

Pádraig Harrington — who is hoping to use a high placing in the St Jude as a springboard to qualification for the US Open — was three over through 16.

This year’s US Open will be McDowell’s 10th and capped, of course, by his Father’s Day triumph five years ago along the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

However it will be the first time McDowell, like so many of his rivals, will go into a US Open with so much uncertainty over the host venue.

“Heading to Chambers Bay is pretty close to a first for me in terms of not knowing really that much about the venue, and I am not alone in that department,” he said.

“There’s only been one Major Championship up in that region that I can remember and that was a PGA Championship won by Vijay (Singh) back in 1998.

“It’s also a long way up there to Washington State and if it was being played on the east coast somewhere we would have already been there.

“I would have liked to have popped up to Chambers last week while in San Francisco but I had my brother’s wedding beforehand and it didn’t work out forme”.

Meanwhile Frenchman Gregory Bourdy’s precise iron play saw him take a two-shot lead in the first round of the Lyoness Open in Austria but he was still not satisfied.

The 33-year-old missed just one green in regulation in a seven-under 65 as he became the first player of the day to come in bogey-free at the Diamond Club in Atzenbrugg — despite being one of the later finishers having teed off at 1pm local time.

Breezy conditions and a course playing hard and fast caused others some difficulties but not Bourdy, who made three birdies in his first four holes and had caught the clubhouse leaders by the time he picked up his fifth stroke at the 370-yard 13th.

“I am pleased with seven under, of course, but it actually could have been even more,” said Bourdy, who has had three top-10s this year but all between January and mid-March.

He led by two from the English duo of Robert Dinwiddie and Chris Wood, Spain’s Carlos del Moral and German Max Kieffer.

Dinwiddie, who missed the second half of last season with a ruptured disc in his back, carded his best round in almost two years. He had missed nine successive cuts on his return until last week’s Nordea Masters but finally found his form with an eagle at the opening par five setting him on his way.

“It’s the longest I’ve ever had away from golf,” the 32-year-old Londoner told in relation to his injury.

“I didn’t realise how long it might take me to get my game back but I feel I am getting closer and this round showed that a bit.”

Wood raced to three under with successive birdies in the middle of the back nine, having started at the 10th, but a bogey at the 591-yard 16th halted his momentum, although he recovered with three further birdies.

Kieffer’s only dropped shot came at the 479-yard ninth as he joined the trio in second at five under, one ahead of a group which included Frenchman Gary Stal, whose mixed bag of a round saw him hole his second for eagle at the par-four third and add seven birdies and five bogeys.

Home favourite Bernd Wiesberger, runner up last year, played some “catastrophic” shots in a seven-over 79.

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