The Sunday before a professional golf major is usually the calm before the storm.
Sure, some of the world’s best golfers — ones who have arrived in town well in advance — will head to the course for some practice-range work, maybe hit a few chip shots and putts around the green.
And if they get a little ambitious, play nine holes. Nothing serious.
Except for this U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
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Never mind the grounds were flooded by patrons in search of U.S. Open merchandise away from the course. Anybody could glance over to see the fairways, greens and driving range were crowded with golfers.
Ease into Sunday? It looked more like a Monday of U.S. Open week.
Jason Day, the talented golfer from Australia, summarized the scene well on a video posted on the USGA Facebook page.
“Feels like a tournament day. There are so many guys out here practicing and playing, trying to get used to the course,” Day said.
He added that the you-must-see-Chambers-Bay-in-advance comments from USGA executive director Mike Davis also might have “spooked” some of the golfers into putting in extra time to see the links-style layout.
Many of golf’s big names — world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, 14-time major champion Tiger Woods, reigning Masters champion Jordan Spieth, long-hitting Dustin Johnson, current Players Championship winner Rickie Fowler and Day — were spending hour after hour practicing Monday as well.
Outside of the players who played in the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tennessee — notably Phil Mickelson and Billy Horschel — it was a typical Monday after a busy day before on the course.
“Over the years, I feel like more and more people are practicing earlier and getting into courses earlier. I did it last year … (at) Pinehurst,” Puyallup golfer Ryan Moore said.
“I saw a lot of guys out here very early in the week. As I said, I was out here Wednesday, and I was not the only person on the golf course. There was quite a few guys out there playing and practicing.
“Anytime you have a completely new golf course that no one’s played, there’s definitely going to be guys coming quite a bit earlier. And with some of Mike Davis’ comments about the golf course … I’m sure that convinced a few more people that they probably needed to come out at least over the weekend a bit early.”
Chambers Bay designer Robert Trent Jones Jr. has listened to the golfers in earnest, spoken to them in great lengths and even followed a few of them around, watching their course study habits.
“They’re telling me they like it,” Jones said. “Those who are uneasy with the newness of it, we’ll listen to them — but they probably won’t make the cut.”