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Wyndham Clark sounds alarm on Pinehurst's greens: 'They already are borderline'

Wyndham Clark sounds alarm on Pinehurst's greens: 'They already are borderline'

PINEHURST, N.C. – Defending champion Wyndham Clark was at Pinehurst No. 2 about a month ago, for a media-day event in advance of the 124th U.S. Open.

He couldn’t believe just how much the course has changed in that time.

“The greens are extremely fast and penal,” he said Monday. “You hit it on the green, the hole is not done. I was just amazed how fast the greens are.”

And tournament week has just begun in earnest.

Those hoping for high scores at golf’s toughest test will no doubt be heartened by the weeklong weather forecast, which calls for temperatures in the low-90s and only slight chances of precipitation. Pinehurst’s chief defense is its famed domed greens, and they figure to be even more challenging when conditions push them to their firmest and fastest.

“If they get any firmer and fast, they’d be borderline,” Clark said. “They already are borderline.”

During Monday’s practice round, Clark said he and his playing partners all putted balls off the green, and that it wasn’t uncommon for him to knock even uphill putts 6 or 7 feet past the cup.

To sum up the difficulty of his practice day, Clark gave two prime examples, first on the amount of break built into his reads and then on the grain:

• “You have to play a lot of break on these greens. When we’re hitting lag putts and short putts, you have a 10-footer downhill, down grain. Normally, you’re not more than four or five inches outside the cup on most greens. Here, you’re maybe playing 10 to 12 inches, just so that you’re not getting below the hole and having it run away.”

• “When it looks really shiny and it’s down grain, let’s say the greens are a 13 (on the Stimpmeter), I think down grain they’re 15 or 16. They’re, like, significantly faster. And then into the grain, it’s not affecting it that much – it goes from a 13 to maybe only a 12 in my mind. So every putt is fast.

"It’s definitely the defense right now is the greens.”