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U.S. Open traffic is ‘a borderline disaster’ and tournament hasn’t even started yet

With just one major highway serving as the way in and way out, traffic was expected to be problematic at this week’s U.S. Open, which is being played at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club near the far eastern tip of Long Island in New York. And while the tournament has yet to officially get going, that prediction already has come to fruition this week as golf’s best have descended on the course for practice rounds and reporters and fans have followed along.

This photo, tweeted by Geoff Shackelford of Golfweek and the Golf Channel, pretty much sums it up.

Or how about this shot? Keep in mind, these photos were taken very, very early in the morning.

The aforementioned highway, New York State Route 27, is the main route to the course from the host hotel, which is located about 15 miles to the northwest of the course in Riverhead. It’s normally around a 15- to 20-minute drive, according to Google Maps, but normalcy isn’t in good supply on the roads this week. One golfer staying at the hotel, 17-year-old U.S. Junior Amateur champion Noah Goodwin, missed the tee time for his first practice round on Monday morning because of the traffic.

“The drive we had this morning was supposed to take 16 minutes, and it took an hour and 40,” Goodwin told Newsday’s Laura Albanese. “I left at 6:15 a.m. this morning.”

Mike Davis, executive director of the U.S. Golf Association, apologized Tuesday.

“We have kind of a nightmare situation on our hands with the hotel,” he said, per Golf.com. “I guess, for what it’s worth, we apologize. It sounds like the traffic is a borderline disaster. I’m not sure we necessarily anticipated that because we’ve used that hotel in the past.”

Tiger Woods said Tuesday that some golfers have had it even worse and predicted that missed tee times could become a thing once the tournament actually starts.

“There are a few guys so far this week have said it’s taken them from the hotel 2 1/2 to 3 hours,” he told reporters. “You know, there’s a good chance that someone might miss their time.”

Other golfers in the field have found better accommodations, with some staying in rented villas at Sebonack Golf Club, which is adjacent to Shinnecock Hills. Jason Day, Jimmy Walker and Bubba Watson, meanwhile, are avoiding the traffic by staying in RVs stationed right near the course’s parking lot. Day is a noted RV enthusiast and uses his to get to around 15 PGA Tour events per year, while Watson just joined the club this year and perhaps is still working on his RV-community manners.

“Bubba just got one this year, and I’m very kind of more private, and he’s — he’s — yeah, he’s a little bit more outgoing,” Day said Tuesday. “And I think we’re at Augusta, and he walks under my bus, and he’s like, ‘Hey, man, what are you doing?’ I’m just sitting in the bus watching TV. He’s like okay. And he’s standing there. And I’m like, ‘Do you want to come inside?’ And he’s eating a burrito, and he decides to come in and talk to me for about 30 minutes. He gets his burrito all over the ground and then just leaves. Actually, it’s nice to have people like that around, you know, to mess your bus up when you need them to.”

As for Woods, he’s staying on his 155-foot yacht Privacy, which is docked this week at a luxury yacht club in Montauk, on the eastern tip of Long Island about 25 miles from the course.

“Staying on the dinghy helps,” Woods said with the insouciance of a man who owns a boat that’s nearly as long as the Arc de Triomphe is tall and features a Jacuzzi, gym and movie theater.

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