Thousands of fans headed into Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton on Sunday, some celebrating Father’s Day by taking their children and grandchildren to their first major tournament, all in hopes of witnessing a champion named at the 118th U.S. Open.
Fans were smiling under a cloudless sky, wearing “Happy Father’s Day” pins and loading up on souvenirs in the merchandise tent while taking a break from the bright sun.
The event drew 27,000 people on Sunday, slightly down from 36,000 at its peak on Saturday, according to Southampton Town officials.
Traffic moved well throughout the day, and there were no major reported delays on the Long Island Rail Road, said Southampton Town Police Chief Steve Skrynecki.
“It was very open on the rails and on the road,” Skrynecki said. “People were able to get here in record time.”
Residents and visitors had complained of traffic snarls last week during practice rounds, which prompted town officials to make adjustments to the traffic plan. Skrynecki said he was pleased with the results as problems had abated by the tournament’s start on Thursday.
Later in the day, as those tied for first place took to the tee, a crowd gathered in the merchandise tent where shoppers waited for clothing to be restocked. Racks of pastel-colored polo shirts, visors and more had been mostly picked clean by golf fans.
“This whole place is wiped,” said Ken Burroughs, 50, of Springfield, Massachusetts. “It’s about to be a free-for-all in here.”
Many fans commented on the challenging course and wondered how many players would finish under par during the event, also known as golf’s ultimate test. None did, with Brooks Koepka defending his Open crown with a score of 1 over par.
Mike Branich, 65, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, said he was most looking forward to seeing a birdie.
“From anyone,” added his son-in-law Mike Keefe. The men, who also attended the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, brought Keefe’s 8-year-old son Logan to the event to witness his first major. The trio had enjoyed a round of golf at Bethpage Black, the site of the 2009 U.S. Open, the previous night.
While the course proved tough even for the pros, fans acknowledged they’d be lucky to bogey on some of Shinnecock’s holes.
“I’d have a 200 if I played here,” said Craig Rinehimer of Macungie, Pennsylvania.