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“Time has borne out the fact that the best of the best can score here, really score, when they’re absolutely on top of their games,” Jones said. “That’s the genius of Oakmont. An average to good shot will be punished, often severely, while a great one will usually be rewarded accordingly. Isn’t that the measure of a great course?”

Indeed. And that’s why Oakmont’s roster of major champions trumps any in the history of the sport. From Bobby Jones (1925 U.S. Amateur), Gene Sarazen (1922 PGA) and Tommy Armour (1927 U.S. Open) to Sam Snead (1951 PGA) and Ben Hogan (1953 U.S. Open) to Jack Nicklaus (1962 U.S. Open) and Miller, the greatest players of each era have thrived at Oakmont.

“This is the finest golf course in the world,” Miller said. “It’s better than [top-ranked American course] Pine Valley ever thought of being. It’s better than Cypress Point ever thought of being. … The agronomy, the depth of the bunkers, the Church Pews, the greens, the shot values, the trees taken out, you combine it all, and this is the greatest course in the world.”

Els concurs that Oakmont is the ultimate players’ course, explaining the dichotomy between the high average score and slew of individual scoring records with one simple phrase: “Oakmont is the ultimate when it comes to separating the men from the boys. It’s totally pure, right there in front of you. You muck it up, and it’s going to beat you silly. But if you bring out your best, you’re going to be rewarded. … This is serious U.S. Open golf here this week. This is golf at its best.”