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SPORTS COMMUNICATIONS - 第73回 日本人5選手、難コース攻略なるか 〜全米オープンゴルフ〜

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一流のミカタ : 第73回 日本人5選手、難コース攻略なるか 〜全米オープンゴルフ〜
投稿日時: 2015-06-19 19:00:00

 ゴルフのメジャー選手権「全米オープン」がワシントン州のチェンバーズベイGCで開幕した。今回の全米オープンは、これまでとは趣が異なる。今年で115回目を迎える伝統あるメジャー大会が、開場8年の新しいコースで開かれる。しかもコースセッティングは史上最難関といわれ、参加選手たちを悩ませている。


 優勝候補にあげられる松山

 まず、選手たちが苦労するのは距離の長さだ。パー4で500ヤードを超えるホールが5つもある。このうち、11番(537ヤード)、13番(534ヤード)、14番(546ヤード)ホールは、全米オープンのパー4で過去最長記録(528ヤード)を塗り替えた。

 さらに芝も特徴的だ。フェアウェイもグリーンも同じフェスキュー芝(細くて長い洋芝)を採用。そのため、フェアウェイとグリーンの境目が一目でわかりにくく、コースには境界線を示す白い点線がほどこされている。加えてグリーン上にはポアナ芝が交じり、パッティングの際はボールが跳ねたり、曲がったりしやすい。

 コースの高低差も30メートル以上あり、打ち上げ、打ち下ろしとホールによって表情が異なる。かつての砂利採掘場につくられたゴルフ場だけに、地盤は硬く、ボールの跳ね返りも大きい。海沿いのコースで風にもショットが大きく左右される。

 さらに厄介なのは、コースの設定が日によって変わることだ。1番と18番ホールは日替わりでパー4とパー5になる。ティーグラウンドの位置も変更され、スコアが読みにくい。選手にとっては高度な適応力が求められる4日間と言えそうだ。

 この難コースを制し、最もメジャー大会優勝に近い日本人といえば、松山英樹だろう。今季の米ツアーでは8度のベスト10入りを果たし、4月のマスターズでは自己最高の5位。世界の強豪と互角に渡り合った。米ツアー公式サイトの優勝予想では、ロリー・マキロイ(英国)、ジョーダン・スピース(米国)に次いで3番手にランク付けされた。正確なドライバーショットは距離の長い今回のコースではプラスに働きそうだ。

 全米では一昨年、初出場ながら日本人でただひとり予選を通過し、10位。最終日には大会ベストスコアタイの67で回り、アンダーパーで4日間を終えた選手が皆無だった厳しいコースに適応してみせた。それだけに今年の難コースにも、うまくスコアをまとめ、優勝争いを演じることを期待したい。

 藤田「技術で不安は乗り越えられる」

 また2年ぶり5度目の全米となる藤田寛之の奮闘にも注目だ。藤田は2012年、43歳にして初の賞金王に輝いたように遅咲きのプレーヤーである。この16日には46歳の誕生日を迎えた。齢を重ねて、なお進化を続けるベテランを支えているのは、「技術さえあれば不安は乗り越えられる」との信念である。

「メンタルの強さとは何か。それは自分に対する自信だと思うんです。じゃあ、自分に対する自信とは何か。それは自らのゴルフに対する技術の裏付けなんです。ゴルフはひとつのミスが明暗を分ける。最終的には自らの技術に対し、絶対的な自信を持っている人が強い。それを持っていれば、自然にメンタルは後からついてくると思っています。だから、とにかく技術を磨いて磨いて、誰にも負けない技術を身につけるというのが僕の原点ですね」

 藤田によると、技術追求への意識をより高めてくれたのが、初出場した時(10年)の全米だったという。
「すごく、いい舞台に立たせてもらって、その刺激がヤル気を起こさせてくれました。もう少し飛距離がほしいとか、こういうボールを打ちたいとか、アプローチはもっとこうしたいと……。向こうの選手には、自分なんかよりもパターのうまいやつがゴロゴロいる。そう思ってやっていたら、日本でのランキングがどんどん上がってきたんですよ」

 全米は過去4度の出場で予選落ちも2度。最高は51位タイ。だが、高みを目指す意欲はいささかも衰えていない。
「まだ若い選手には負けたくない。第一線でやりたいという気持ちは当然、持っています。しかし最近、それ以上に思うのは僕のゴルフを見た人に何かを感じてもらいたいということ。究極的な目標を口にすれば、僕が球を打っている姿を見ただけで泣いている人がいる。目指すとすれば、そこでしょう」
“中年の星”のチャレンジには一見の価値がある。

 その他、3年ぶり出場の石川遼、石川の高校の先輩にあたる薗田峻輔、海外メジャー初参戦となる川村昌弘と、日本人は計5選手が全米に挑む。米ツアー本格参戦3季目となる石川は、1日36ホールを回る過酷な予選会を突破して出場権を手にした。この余勢を駆って、中継を通じて応援する日本のファンに雄姿を届けてほしい。
 
 スカパー!の「ゴルフネットワーク」では全米オープンの全ラウンドを4日間生中継している。世界のトッププロが難しいコースをいかに攻略するか、日本人がどこまで上位に食い込めるか。ゴルフの魅力をじっくりと堪能したい。

 スカパー!はゴルフ放送も充実!
 全米オープンは4日間全ラウンド完全生中継

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【今後の放送スケジュール】(放送はすべてゴルフネットワーク

6月19日(金) 深夜1:00〜翌午後1:00
6月20日(土) 深夜3:00〜翌午後0:00
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※放送時間は延長、変更の場合があります。

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