Kevin Na, one of five golfers with strong ties to Las Vegas playing in the U.S. Open, used social media to prove how difficult the course will be this week.
Na, a Las Vegas resident and the 2011 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open champion, posted an Instagram video during a practice round at Erin Hills Golf Club in Erin Hills, Wisconsin. He appeared to be incredulous about what the golfers will experience if they hit a ball into the knee-high fescue that begins a few yards off the fairway.
“Let me show you what we are dealing with this week,” Na said in the video. “There is 3 or 4 yards of rough, maybe 5 at the most, and then you have the fescue. … You’re lucky if you find your ball. … It’s like a hazard. Every hole we have this. Every hole.”
Na then finds a ball he threw in the fescue and proceeds to take a swing. The ball barely moves a foot. He takes another swing and the ball doesn’t move. He then loses the ball while he is standing directly above it.
Na ends the video by asking, “Why can’t we have a lot of the past U.S. Open winners get together and set up a major? I would like to see that happen one day.”
The other players in the field with Southern Nevada ties are Las Vegas native Scott Piercy, former UNLV star Adam Scott, Las Vegas resident and former Rebel Charley Hoffman and current Rebel John Oda. Former UNLV All-American Ryan Moore withdrew from the tournament last week because of a minor shoulder injury.
No player with Southern Nevada ties has won the U.S. Open.
Oda played a practice round Sunday at Erin Hills with Brad Dalke, who plays for Oklahoma, and quickly discovered the hazards of the course. The UNLV standout also played a practice round with Na.
“The course is pretty long, and hitting the fairway will be key,” said Oda, who earned a spot in the field by winning the U.S. Open regional qualifier last week at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, California. “The fescue around the edges of the rough will be extremely penalizing. Most likely golfers will lose their ball if they hit it into those areas. Picking good targets, hitting the ball in good positions and not short-siding the greens will also be very important.”
Las Vegas sports books have Scott at 25-1 to win the tournament, Hoffman and Na each at 150-1, Piercy at 200-1 and Oda 2,000-1.
Jimmy Walker, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland, who all work with local teaching professional Butch Harmon, are also in the field. Johnson is the betting favorite at 13-2.
Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at email@example.com or @LVGolfInsider on Twitter.
Notable first-round pairings
(All times PST)
— Charley Hoffman, Jason Dufner, Hideto Tanhara (6:07 a.m., 10th tee)
— Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm (6:51 a.m., 10th tee)
— Danny Willett, Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera (7:13 a.m., 10th tee)
— Webb Simpson, Ernie Els, Lucas Glover (7:35 a.m., 1st tee)
— *Martin Kaymer, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson (7:35 a.m., 10th tee start)
— William McGirt, Keegan Bradley, Kevin Na (12:03 p.m., 10th tee)
— Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia (12:36 p.m., 1st tee)
— Henrik Stenson, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen (12:47 p.m., 1st tee)
— Jason Day, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy (1:09 p.m., 1st tee)
*Winners of last three U.S. Opens
U.S. OPEN FACTS
What: 117th U.S. Open Championship.
When: First-round play begins Thursday.
Where: Erin Hill Golf Club, Erin, Wis. (35 miles northwest of Milwaukee), a public course opened in 2006.
Course: 7,741 yards, par 72 (36-36)
Field: 156 players
Cut: Top 60 players and ties. If a playoff is necessary, it’s 18 holes on Monday.
Purse: $12 million