GOLF

While the golfers are practicing, the final fine-tuning of the course is underway at the Country Club

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“I think we’re all thrilled with the test this golf course provides – it looks like it’s going to be a brutal test of golf, and that’s what this championship is all about,” said Phil Mickelson in one of his non-LIV Golf Monday responses.

Mickelson, who played here in the 1999 Ryder Cup, said: “The course is in perfect condition. It is a remarkable golf course. A number of tees have been lengthened since 1999 since I can remember, but it seems to play the same.

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With knee-deep fescue, rough, smooth greens hidden by rolling, svelte fairways, and outcrops of puddingstone vying for space with gnarled, amoeba-shaped sand traps, the course is designed to test the golfers at all skill levels.

Combine that with the majority of golfers who are new to the course, or at least several years away from their last visit, and the degree of difficulty only increases.

“It’s a cool place, it’s very in front of you, it’s old school,” said Justin Thomaswho missed the cut at the US Amateur Championship here in 2013. “I’m sure the greens will be long, hard, firm and fast. »

Thomas flew to Boston last Monday specifically to participate in a practice round before heading to Toronto for the RBC Canadian Open.

Justin Thomas speaks to the media during a press conference Monday at the Brookline Country Club.Cliff Hawkins/Getty

“I didn’t remember that amount of undulations and slopes on the greens,” Thomas said. “I love the addition of the short par-3 [No. 11, 131 yards]. I think every golf course should have a short little hole like this, and there’s a devilish green where they can putt tough, you can make 2 or 4 in a heartbeat.

Matt Fitzpatrick returns to the course, the champion of the same US Amateur 2013 where Thomas did not make the cut.

“2013 was – you had to hit fairways and greens,” said Fitzpatrick, who will participate in his first practice round on Tuesday. “The fairways were really, really tight and the rough was thick, and that’s why we did really well that week, as well as scrambled really well. I think from what I can see, that’s same thing again, which is good.

The grass is greener

From winter through spring and including the forecast for this week, the weather in New England has been very, very good for Country Club grass.

And that bodes well for making setting up the course for the 18 holes of this week’s tournament as difficult as possible.

“Agronomically it’s about being able to firm up the golf course, getting good putting green speeds and with the cooler weather we’ve had, it’s actually overall a beneficial thing because it doesn’t stress the grass, but it’s warm enough for the grass to grow,” said Darin Bevard, Director of the Agronomy Championship at the USGA. “And, with the focus on precision, the growth in rough is very important. The weather had been pretty good for the start, but that little bit of rain we had on Friday morning really helped to brighten things up.

Crude was cut Monday, with primary crude being cut daily from now on to stay at 3 inches.

The Greens?

They will be mowed at least three times a day to play as quickly as possible.

“From the tee to the green, to the roughs, everything, it’s really healthy there, which is a good starting point from which you have to tighten the screws a little bit, you know, with a little bit of extra maintenance and that kind of stuff,” Bévard said. “But no, the weather has been great.”

About 19 mowers hit the 18th fairway Monday at the Country Club to make a quick touch-up.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Bevard was unaware of the Country Club until he began preparing for this event four years ago.

“You don’t train to run a marathon the week before it starts, you start long,” Bevard said. “People don’t realize there’s a lot of planning to prepare and peak for this week.”

And is the course at its peak, thanks to the weather in addition to the four years of planning?

“We’re there,” Bevard said. “We’re tweaking the setting now, but that’s by design. We don’t need to peak on Monday, we want to peak on Thursday, so that’s what we’re working towards.

“Everything is really, really good.”

Mickelson, who is caught up in the LIV Golf Tour controversy more than any other LIV golfer here, said he was excited about everything he heard from the gallery.

Golf fans were out in force at the Country Club on Monday, as many waited to get autographs from golfers finishing on the 18th hole.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

“I think the crowds in Boston are some of the best in the sport, and I think they’ve given me a lot of support, and I’m very grateful for that over the years,” Mickelson said. “I think their enthusiasm and energy is what creates such a good atmosphere, so whether it’s positive or negative towards me directly, I think it’s going to create an incredible atmosphere to organize this championship.”

Live spirit

Fitzpatrick, 27, who was the first Englishman to win the US Amateur, is now ranked 17th in the world. He is also a high-level quipteur.

Asked about earning a spot on the list of press conference topics, Fitzpatrick said, “It’s because everyone is leaving the PGA Tour. That is why. They dig up the dregs.

Fitzpatrick is staying with the same Jamaica Plain family he stayed with nine years ago and also visited in November for his first Thanksgiving.

“I don’t really like Thanksgiving food, it’s not for me,” said Fitzpatrick, who called green beans “the worst thing ever invented.”

How about clam chowder?

“Terrible too. Never tried, but probably terrible, yeah.

Numbers game

The 156 golfers will start the first round Thursday in groups of three, 26 groups from the first hole, the 26 others from the n°10.

The first group starts at 6:45 a.m., the last at 2:42 p.m.

Some notables from n°1: Jon Rahm (7:18 a.m.), Jordan Spieth (7:29 a.m.), Justin Thomas (1:14 p.m.) and Mickelson (1:47 p.m.). From 10: Rory McIlroy (7:40 a.m.), Sergio Garcia (1:03 p.m.), Bryson DeChambeau (1:47 p.m.).


Michael Silverman can be contacted at michael.silverman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeSilvermanBB.

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