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Fan reaction to Phil Mickelson, Cam Smith’s big push

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US Open 2022 liner notes: Fan reaction to Mickelson, Smith’s big push and more originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

BROOKLINE, Mass. — Cameron Smith has never won a major championship in his professional career, but don’t be surprised if his breakthrough comes at the US Open this week.

Smith came to The Country Club as one of the top contenders. He has five top-10 finishes and two wins on the PGA Tour this season. He finished T-3 at the Masters and T-13 at the PGA Championship last month.

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The 28-year-old star leads the PGA Tour in scoring average (69.235) and ranks fourth in one-putt percentage (45.28). She has also posted 68.1 greens in regulation time. Bottom line, it’s hard to find a real hole in Smith’s game right now.

Smith has come close to winning a major several times. He has finished in the top 10 five times. Smith is confident his impressive play at Augusta and Southern Hills will continue this week.

“Yeah, I think so. I love Major League Baseball. I feel like it brings out the best in me,” Smith said Tuesday. “I love the demand for a good game and just getting good scores. I feel like I’ve had a little bit of success at the US Open before. Yeah, I feel like this is a really good place for me.”

The course at Brookline is going to be quite challenging. What does Smith see as most important to a successful week?

“I think it’s a little bit like a second try,” Smith said. “Obviously off the tee it’s also very demanding, but I feel like you have to be smart on the greens. There’s a lot of pitch on the greens. You have to be under the hole, especially as the week goes on. I think the greens are going to get firmer and faster. Yeah, so I think control on the greens is going to be really important.”

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Despite the challenging nature of the course, Smith likes it a lot so far.

“I think it’s probably my favorite US Open venue I’ve ever been to,” he said. “Lots of options off the tee. You have to hit the ball well, obviously. Yeah, just a typical old school course. I love it.”

Here are some other notes from Monday and Tuesday at The Country Club:

— The US Open will be Phil Mickelson’s first major since officially joining LIV Golf. He has received a lot of criticism for his decision. The PGA Tour even suspended him, along with the 16 other members who competed in LIV Golf’s inaugural tournament in London last weekend.

Mickelson talks LIV Tour, PGA Tour on Monday at Brookline

Despite the backlash, Mickelson was well received by the crowd at The Country Club on Tuesday when he played his first practice round alongside Kevin Na and reigning US Open champion Jon Rahm.

I followed him for the first five holes he played. Some of the chants directed at Mickelson included: “Boston loves you Phil”, “Welcome back Phil”, “Beard looks great”. If Tuesday was any indication, most fans will be rooting for Mickelson when the tournament begins on Thursday.

The US Open is also the only one of the four majors that Mickelson has failed to win.

– Jon Rahm holed an eagle from over 100 yards on the Par 4 fourth hole during his practice round alongside Mickelson and Na. It drew an excited reaction from the many fans along the fairway and around the green.

Here is a photo of Mickelson congratulating Rahm on the impressive shot.

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— A fan in Tuesday’s practice round was walking around wearing a Montreal Canadiens Max Pacioretty jersey. It was an interesting sight at a sporting event in the Boston area, to say the least.

— Brooks Koepka is the only player since 1989 to win back-to-back US Open titles. He won the tournament in 2017 and 2018.

What does it take to win in such a challenging event?

“A lot of discipline,” Koepka said. “Whether that means staying off the tees, just hitting the fairways, missing the right spots, not getting sucked into any pin locations, although it might be a play for you or something. You just have to be disciplined , stay as usual at that time.

“You know you’re going to bogey a lot, try not to double bogey. That’s always been my big goal in the majors: never double bogey here, you’re doing good. You’re leaving.” of trouble, then return to position. That is the key for the US Open.”

McIlroy accepts role as PGA Tour leader amid LIV Golf controversy

— The 17th hole at The Country Club has a lot of history. It’s where Justin Leonard sank the winning putt for the United States in the 1999 Ryder Cup, culminating in one of the greatest comebacks in tournament history.

Fans walking around the 17th hole this week will notice a few bunkers and several thick bunkers that golfers will be trying to get around.

It is a challenging hole that will require a lot of mental strength, skill and patience to survive.

“Yeah, it’s unique,” Justin Thomas said Monday when asked about the 17th hole. “Unlike a lot of holes here, they’re self-explanatory off the tee, I’m just going to hit a driver or I’m going to hit a wood. 3, whatever, but I think that hole presents a lot of different club opportunities off the tees.

“Especially with the way a lot of guys are playing today. A bunch of guys are probably going to hit the driver, try to hit it right in front of the green. Or if you have a wind to help, maybe the tee is up, you can hit it on the green. But then again, I’m sure the rough is going to be nasty there where you have opposition. It’s tough, and then it’s like, do you lay down the number?

“It’s a hole where you can swing a two-shot pretty quickly because it’s a pretty short, easy hole, but it’s really going to be how you want to attack it or approach it once you get to that point. Especially on Saturday and Sunday. “.

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