IT’S that time of year where the best in the world get ready to take on the hardest golf challenge on tour... The US Open.

With the USPGA setting level par as their target winning score the players know they are in for a stern test of their abilities.

Anyone on Facebook who has seen the videos posted by golf digest of Justin Thomas dropping his ball in the rough, only to see it disappear into the grass, or Ben An’s video of a bunker shot onto the green where the ball wouldn’t stop rolling on what looked like a burned-out upturned saucer, will know what lies in store.

There’s even been one casualty, with Chris Crawford’s caddie breaking his ankle in one of the bunkers!

So, who is going to triumph on a course like that?

Ernie Els in 1994 and Angel Cabrera in 2007 secured US Open victories around Oakmont so premium is on driving long and accurately.

The usual candidates will no doubt be around the top of the leaderboard come the traditional Father’s Day finish as their ability to hit the higher-flighted and softer landing shot will help this week.

Rory McIlroy and Jason Day have both been at Oakmont prior to this week for practice and apparently made a stack of birdies according to Eric Johnson, who is the Director of Instruction at the course.

From the outsiders, Justin Thomas and David Lingmerth have the game to win, the latter fresh from his PGA Tour victory last week.

But let’s hope we get another European winner and Lee Westwood can emulate Danny Willett’s Masters success and bring the trophy back to the UK.

FOR us local pros and scratch golfers, it’s also the time of the year when we can dust our clubs off and try to win a coveted place in the Open Championship through regional and then local final qualifying.

Next Monday is the regional events with my assistant pro Gareth Butcher playing at West Lancs on the Southport coast.

Ulverston’s Luke Walker travels to Moortown in Leeds and Furness’s Chris Kendall plays at Fairhaven. I’m playing at West Lancs also so good luck to everyone playing and hopefully we can keep the local interest alive into the next stage.

For anyone wanting to play some links golf this weekend, it’s the Dick Keay Open at Furness Golf Club and there are a few remaining tee times available to play in this popular event.

The course is looking great and the greens running true and fast – give them a call on 471232 if you would like to play.

Have a great golfing weekend.