A Kinder Gentler US Open

By Associated PressJune 14, 2005, 4:00 pm
PINEHURST, N.C. -- A hot breeze roiled across the 18th fairway, rustling the pine trees and slowly pushing the dense, white clouds toward the South. Up ahead, the closely mowed fringe around the humpbacked green was a bit chewed up, the result of a cooler-than-usual Carolina spring.
 
The greens? They were still green. But it was only Monday. The forecast for the next two days called for highs reaching into the 90s.
 
The U.S. Open begins Thursday, but as soon as the players arrived at Pinehurst No. 2, set in the picturesque village in the Sandhills region of North Carolina, the debate had begun.
 
The USGA prides in making its tournament the toughest test in golf'the one that seeks to identify the best players'but after an embarrassing Sunday last year at Shinnecock Hills, the USGA had to temper its draconian standards.
 
Will anybody notice the changes?
 
They always try to make sure the golf courses are on the edge and this golf course will be no different, said Nick Price, a staunch critic of the USGA in previous years.
 
Price, whose three majors dont include a U.S. Open title, was given a special exemption into this years tournament and, several weeks ago, was issued a rare invitation to play the Donald Ross course and offer his input.
 
It was an attempt by the USGA to reach out to its critics, and part of a bigger effort to recalibrate its image after last years disaster at Shinnecock, when on a hot, windy final day, not a single player broke par and 28 players, including Ernie Els, failed to break 80. In the biggest debacle of the day, the par-3 seventh green got so dry, it couldnt hold a tee shot, and early on, officials started watering the turf for every other group.
 
Retief Goosen won the tournament with a 1-over 71 on Sunday. He and Phil Mickelson were the only two players to break par over four rounds.
 
They have the defense because hes such a great champion, Fred Funk said. Thats fine. But it takes a guy with the mentality of Retief. Nothing bothers him. Youve just got to expect the unexpected, expect unfair, expect bad bounces. Expect having to make 6-, 7-, 8-footers for par.
 
So concerned with last years troubles was the USGA that it recently published a 420-word manifesto titled USGA Philosophy, an essay about the way it sets up U.S. Open courses.
 
The essay held to its belief that the U.S. Open must prove the most rigorous examination of golfers.
 
'At the same time, we try to ensure that a well-played stroke produces a positive result for an Open competitor, it read.
 
A loosening of standards? After playing his first practice round of the week, 1995 U.S. Open champion Corey Pavin thought not.
 
Its set up very nicely, Pavin said. Its going to be a difficult U.S. Open.
 
The USGA essay says there is no target score for a U.S. Open, dismissing the widely held belief that many in the organization consider the tournament to have been less than a success if the winner breaks par.
 
Nevertheless, the players know they can only succeed if they change their mind-set for this tournament.
 
You have to put your mind in neutral, Price said. You have to say, Hey, whatever happens today or the next three days is going to happen and you just have to deal with it. Most players think if you play well, you should shoot 2 or 3 under par. You have to throw that out here.
 
Price, who a few years ago berated the USGAs Tom Meeks for making the fairway nearly impossible to reach on the 492-yard 10th hole at Bethpage Black, said despite his criticisms, the USGA has done a very nice job setting up Open courses over the past two decades.
 
At Bethpage, they did a great job except for three holes. They made a mess of three holes, he said.
 
While some of the USGAs problems'and successes'have been of its own making, some can be related to weather. Pinehurst was almost universally praised after the 1999 tournament, when Payne Stewart made his dramatic 15-foot putt on No. 18 to win it. Besides the great finish, it helped that much of the week was cool and moist.
 
Because the spring has been so cool, not all the rough has grown in as expected. Some players Monday were griping a bit about the patchy fringe around the greens.
 
Still, the rest of the course looks good.
 
After the really hot stuff Tuesday and Wednesday, temperatures are supposed to scoot back into the 80s with a chance of rain through most of the weekend. Thats about average for this time of the year down South. If so, it would allow the USGA to give the 156-player field the tough'and slightly refined'test it has been planning for.
 
Its hard for them, as well, Price said of the difficulties the ever-changing committee encounters at different venues with different weather. Its not the easiest job in the world setting up a U.S. Open golf course and getting it right.
 
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    Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

    By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

    The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

    Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

    There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

    Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

    None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

    An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

    In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

    Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


    Playing with the pros

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    Rory faces criticism

    Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

    Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


    President at the Presidents Cup


    Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

    Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

    Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


    Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

    Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

    Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


    Cart on the green


    Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


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    Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

    Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


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    Trump golf properties

    Vandalism

    Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

    Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

    Finances


    Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

    Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

    Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

    Reportedly fake TIME covers


    Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


    Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

    Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

    Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


    Pros comment on the president

    Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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    Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

    Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

    With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

    Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

    The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

    Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

    In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.