PINEHURST - Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee has a simple recipe for winning the US Open at Pinehurst No. 2 this week. "Everything has to be perfect," the 44-year-old told Reuters after having his first look at the course when he played nine holes on Monday.
More specifically, world number 37 Thongchai knows his short game will need to be of the highest order if he wants to have a chance of contending on Sunday.
Pinehurst's turtle-back greens not only repel approach shots that might stay on the putting surfaces at many other courses, but players are also often left with very delicate recovery shots from the tightly-mown surroundings.
And usually they have several options for recovery shots, rather than mindlessly taking out a lob wedge and scything the ball out of deep rough.
Thongchai said he might use anything from a five-iron to a five-wood to a putter from off the green, depending on the situation. "The key is short game, because the greens are so tough," said Thongchai. "Tight grass, lot of slope, if you miss a good place, it's going to be quite nice to play from there, but miss the wrong side and it's going to be hard to make up-and-down." Thongchai, the only player from Southeast Asia in the field for the June 12-15 US Open, is in top form after winning the Scandinavian Masters earlier this month, though he acknowledges this will be a much sterner test. "I know US Open is very tough. I think par every day will win." Even par is exactly what Michael Campbell shot to win in 2005, while Payne Stewart carded one-under in 1999.