US Open: Pinehurst lay-out earns praise from Luke Donald

Luke Donald
Donald says the USGA have been "brave" with the Pinehurst set-up

Pinehurst has earned the praise of Luke Donald ahead of the start of the US Open on Thursday.

The US Open has a reputation as the toughest major tournament.

But former world number one Donald believes the lack of rough at Pinehurst will create an exciting tournament.

"I love the renovation and the fact that the USGA have been brave enough to play a US Open with no rough. It's a genius move on their part," Donald told BBC Radio 5 live.

"Having short-cut grass everywhere gives you so many more options. If you hit it in long rough, you have one option and that's grab the lob wedge.

"Here you have so many different options off the tee, around the greens. I love what they've done."

Donald plays with fellow Englishman Paul Casey and American Harris English, while defending champion Justin Rose has been drawn to play with Phil Mickelson and Sheffield's US Amateur champion Matt Fitzpatrick.

Open champion Mickelson finished joint second at Merion 12 months ago in the only major the American has not won.

Rory McIlroy tees off from the 10th with 2010 winner and fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell and 2012 champion Webb Simpson.

The US Open provided McIlroy with his first major title when he won at Congressional in 2011.

For the first time in four years, organisers avoided the temptation to put the top three players in the world rankings together, a popular ploy that had generated plenty of hype and attracted huge galleries during previous US Opens.

While world number one Adam Scott and third ranked Bubba Watson have been grouped together with 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzel, world number two Swede Henrik Stenson will play in the company of American Matt Kuchar and England's Lee Westwood.

Spain's Sergio Garcia begins his bid for a first major title alongside Australia's Jason Day and American Brandt Snedeker.

Three of golf's youngest stars have also been drawn together.

The grouping of Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler having a combined age of just 67.