If Olympia Fields intended to make a memorable impression in hosting the BMW Championship, it succeeded magnificently.
In the PGA Tour’s first trip in 17 years to the sprawling club outside Chicago, par became the gold standard again. One week after Dustin Johnson torched TPC Boston by shooting 30-under par in winning the Northern Trust, Olympia Fields punched back.
With its combination of narrow fairways, dense, penal rough and pesky crosswinds that blew throughout the week, Olympia Fields raised the question of why the U.S. Open hasn’t been back since Jim Furyk won there in 2003.
“This golf course was basically a U.S. Open, with the rough being as high as it is and fairways a little bit narrow,” Tiger Woods said after shooting 11-over par and failing to advance to this week’s Tour Championship. “Look at the scores, and I don’t think that we’ve seen scores like this in a non-major in a very long time. This was a great ramp-up for me for the U.S. Open.”
"I love the great test of golf that they’ve presented here, and I wish they did it more.”
For anyone wondering about the U.S. Open returning to the Chicago area, the sites are set for the next eight years and Olympia Fields is not one of them.
“This would be a wonderful U.S. Open test,” said Rory McIlroy, who also suggested he might prefer if the Western Golf Association set the course up rather than the USGA.
Interestingly, Furyk won the U.S. Open at Olympia Fields by shooting 8-under par, better than anyone managed last week.
Olympia Fields is also where Walter Hagen won the 1925 PGA Championship, Jack Nicklaus won the 1968 Western Open and Bryson DeChambeau won the 2015 U.S. Amateur.
“This golf course is a major-championship-style golf course, and the way they’ve set it up, it’s a great test of golf,” DeChambeau said. “I would say that this is almost one-and-a-half times harder than the U.S. Amateur. ... It’s not twice as hard. Twice as hard we'd be shooting 90. But no, I love it. I love the great test of golf that they’ve presented here, and I wish they did it more.”
Ron Green Jr.