PINEHURST, North Carolina - Former champion Geoff Ogilvy says the US Open set up at Pinehurst No.2 is the best he's ever seen in American golf, spurring his excitement and drive to contend this week.
As an accomplished course designer already, Ogilvy knows golf courses better than most and the 2006 US Open winner has fallen in love with a recent redesign of Pinehurst No.2 done by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.
Taken back to its Donald Ross roots by the design team, the course requires a precise strategy and insists on creativity to escape trouble.
Gone is the predictable thick rough of US Opens past and in are sandy waste areas in line with the natural terrain, very much like the stunning courses along the Melbourne sandbelt.
Ogilvy told AAP he had expected a lot, and the course had exceeded his expectations.
"If you don't use your brain you have no chance," he said.
"The greens are a bit more extreme but the feeling of the grass and the feeling of the shots you hit and the way it looks and presents is very Melbourne-like so there should be an advantage to the Australians and anyone who has played a lot in the sandbelt."
Celebrating his 37th birthday on the eve of the championship, the Victorian had a spring in his step despite not having won anywhere in the world since 2010 and being without a top 10 finish on the US PGA tour since March of 2013.
His love for a "real" test of golf has lifted could prove to be the slump-buster.
"By Wednesday in practice rounds at a US Open you can sometimes be pretty flat because it is such a beat down, but I could go out here and play every day all year, and love it," he said.
"We've been playing almost five hour practice rounds and they end too quickly for me, that's how much I love it."