On Golf: Oakmont Country Club Sets Standard for U.S. Open Play

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The Church Pews bunker at Oakmont Country Club, site of the United States Open. Many consider it North America’s most difficult course.

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Jeff Swensen for The New York Times

OAKMONT, Pa. — The United States Open does not sneak up on anyone, but every year, many players feel ambushed.

The event is billed as the most demanding test in golf, and yet when it predictably leaves the world’s best players struggling, if not gasping, they nonetheless lash out with a grating chorus of complaints about unfair course conditions.

But a curious thing could happen when the 116th Open begins Thursday at the venerable Oakmont Country Club. Ballooning scores will surely turn a few stomachs, but the bellyaching might be kept to a minimum.

The reason is simple: No one dares to dis Oakmont. It is bad karma and self-defeating.

Or as Paul Azinger, the 12-time PGA Tour winner who is now the lead golf analyst for Fox Sports, said, “You’re cooked if you grumble your way around here.”

As one of the most arduous golf courses in North America, Oakmont is approached with a mix of…

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