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U.S. Open 2019: This two-time winner wants the U.S. Open to remain the toughest test in golf

June 13, 2019

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — On the eve of the 119th U.S. Open, this much is clear: the players care deeply about how the course will be set up. That much has been communicated since a controversial Saturday afternoon at Shinnecock a year ago, with many active players pointed fingers at the USGA and calling for a fairer course.

Despite the recent setup hiccups, two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen thinks the U.S. Open should always play tough.

“It’s a fine line to get it exactly right,” Goosen said Tuesday in an appearance for Rolex. “Some events it’s going to get out of hand and unfortunately it’s happened twice at Shinnecock.

“Jack won here, and the score was [over par]. Nobody moaned,” Goosen continued. “It was just a tough course, and you played. So no, I don’t think the USGA should soften up. I think they should do it as they’ve always done it.”

Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen.
Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen.

Goosen won the U.S. Open in 2001 at Southern Hills and in 2004 at Shinnecock Hills, two different and difficult setups, in which the winning score was four under each time. He said the USGA tries to keep the winning score around even par, and sometimes that can lead to bad decisions.

Speaking with a small group of reporters, Goosen talked at length about his recent Hall of Fame induction and how Pebble Beach should shape up for the best players in the world. He thinks there will be plenty of low scores, particularly from Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy. Their length, he said, is a substantial asset regardless of the sticky rough.

Goosen admitted he would like to see the rough be a bit longer for this week’s event, but when it comes to saving the USGA from the wrath of opinionated players, he has a simple fix.

“Maybe just move the pin two feet to the left, away from the slope,” Goosen said. “I think they’ve learned their lesson on that front.”