Justin Thomas predicts shortest hole in modern US Open history could be ‘spicy’

Justin Thomas predicted that the shortest hole in modern US Open history would prove “spicy” as records continued to tumble at Los Angeles Country Club.

Two days after Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele both shot 62 to record the lowest score in championship history, the par-three 15th was set to play to just 80 yards during Saturday’s third round.

The previous shortest hole in the US Open was the famous seventh at Pebble Beach – 92 yards in the final round in 2010 – but anyone expecting a fourth hole-in-one of the week on the 15th could be disappointed.

Two-time major winner Thomas wrote on Twitter: “Fifteen is interesting…guys playing early have a chance to hold that section I think. But this afternoon (dominantly downwind), I don’t see a ball holding at it.

“Watch for many guys to one hop it over the back. I think the play is to hit a big cut spinner off that middle slope.

“With how fast the greens will play, it has a chance to get down within 5-10 feet. Will be a spicy one for sure!”

Thomas missed the cut on Friday after rounds of 73 and 81 left him 152nd in the 156-man field and admitted his performance was “humiliating and embarrassing”.

“I was playing the best I’ve played in a really long time this week, so (it’s a) funny game, man,” Thomas told the Golf Channel.

Justin Thomas
Justin Thomas hit from a bunker on the eighth hole during the first round of the US Open (George Walker IV/AP)

“It can leave you speechless, both good and bad, and right now it’s unfortunate. But once I’m able to reflect and figure out what I can learn and get better from, it’ll end up good. But it sucks right now.”

Thomas won his second US PGA Championship 13 months ago at Southern Hills, but has not tasted victory since and the former world number one has slipped to 16th in the rankings.

“I’ll figure it out,” he added. “I have another major left (this season).

“If I go win the British Open, nobody even remembers that I’ve missed the cut by a zillion here, so I’ve just got to find a way to get better and learn from this and if I can, I don’t have to look at this week as a total failure.”

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy hit from a bunker on the 14th hole during the second round of the US Open (Matt York/AP)

Next month’s Open Championship will be staged at Royal Liverpool and Rory McIlroy revealed watching the highlights of his victory there in 2014 had influenced his approach this week.

“For whatever reason I went on to YouTube a few weeks ago and was looking back at Hoylake 2014 and I could not believe how many irons and three woods I was hitting off the tee and it set something off in my mind,” said McIlroy, who headed into the third round two shots behind leader Rickie Fowler.

“You know how to do this, you know how to play smart. You don’t have to take driver all the time – yes it’s a big weapon but I feel like I have more weapons in my arsenal than I did then so I may as well use them.”

Asked how much he wanted to win another major after a drought of almost nine years, McIlroy added: “I started thinking about winning this thing on Monday and no one wants me to win another major more than I do.

“The desire is obviously there. I’ve been trying and I’ve come close over the past nine years and I keep coming back.

“I feel like I’ve showed a lot of resilience in my career, whether I get rewarded or punched in the gut, I’ll always keep coming back.”

Coincidentally, Fowler was joint second behind McIlroy at Hoylake in a year in which he finished in the top five in all four majors, and was also third behind McIlroy in the following month’s US PGA.