Members Always Knew Oakmont Wasnt Easy

By Associated PressJune 16, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- There are times Mark Pope walks off the course at Oakmont Country Club and wonders if it's possible he could be that bad, that his game could have deserted him so quickly.
 
And this is a guy who once shot 68 in the club championship.
 
That moaning and groaning the pros are doing at this week's U.S. Open is drawing smiles from some of the members at Oakmont. The Open players are the best in the world, and they're struggling just to survive a few days here. Imagine what it's like playing Oakmont on a regular basis.
 
'When you join here, you make a deal with yourself that you want to be challenged every day,' said Mickey Pohl, Oakmont's general chairman for the U.S. Open. 'It's a little different philosophy.'
 
When Henry C. Fownes designed Oakmont in 1903, he wanted a course that would test every single shot in his game. Not just his driving. Not just his putting. Not just his short game. Everything.
 
So the greens are fast and tricky, with undulations that create lines and breaks not seen anywhere else. The bunkers are treacherous, not simply decorative. The rough can grow so thick that small children and lapdogs get swallowed up by it.
 
'A shot played poorly should be a shot irrevocably lost,' Fownes' son, William, once said.
 
'For years, anybody who could play golf and was a good player wanted to play here,' said Gene Farrell, a member for 37 years and a two-time club champion. 'If you can play well at Oakmont, you're proud of that fact.'
 
Which is why this week has been so much fun for the members.
 
There's never any shortage of griping from players at the Open. The fairways are ribbon thin, the rough thick and bushy and the greens like linoleum. But at most courses, it takes some primping -- in some cases, a full-scale makeover -- to get ready for the Open. At Shinnecock three years ago, the greens were so dried out they played like slabs of concrete.
 
If courses were in those conditions normally, members would probably decide it was time to concentrate on their tennis game.
 
Not at Oakmont.
 
What the pros saw this week wasn't that much different from the torturous conditions members say they endure week in and week out. But the members don't play from the championship tees -- a fact Tiger Woods said makes all the difference.
 
'If you're a 10-handicapper, there is no way you're breaking 100 out there,' he said after shooting a 4-over 74 Friday. 'If you played all out on every shot, there is no way.'
 
But members take some offense at that. There are 650 members with handicaps. Of those, 196 are in the single digits. The U.S. Golf Association hasn't done much to change the course from what it looked like a few weeks ago.
 
'Sometimes the speed of the greens play faster than the USGA has them,' said Dick Fuhrer, a member for 47 years and the guy who had the bright idea to grow the rough when the Open was here in 1983.
 
'It tests you pretty good,' he added. 'In fact, it tests you more than you are capable of handling.'
 
When Pope shot his 68, he said the greens were as fast as they are for the Open.
 
'It really was, probably, one of the greatest rounds ever shot. In all of golf,' Pope said. He was joking. Maybe.
 
When the USGA said it was going to cut the rough, some members actually e-mailed Pohl to complain.
 
'There would be some members,' Pohl said, 'who would set it up even harder.'
 
The pros would say it's plenty hard already.
 
Phil Mickelson is nursing a bum wrist thanks to his practice rounds at Oakmont, and there are dozens more tending wounded egos this weekend. Only four players shot under par the first two rounds, and the average score Friday was 76.933.
 
'It's a different range of shots here,' Pohl said. 'People aren't used to seeing this huge variety of tough shots.'
 
Ask the members why they joined Oakmont instead of another club and the answer is usually the same: The challenge. You can golf anywhere. Play at Oakmont, and your game will always get a workout.
 
'We may joke about being tortured. But the reason I come back here is not to be punished,' said Stan Druckenmiller, a member for 30 years. 'When you play well here, it's so rewarding and it feels so good.
 
'It is brutal,' he added. 'But you want to be tested. You want to be challenged.'
 
And seeing the best in the world get a taste of what it's like for them every week has made the Open that much more enjoyable.
 
'I'm not a masochist,' Fuhrer said. 'I want to see them play well. I know how frustrating it is when you don't.'
 
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  • Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

    Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

    Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

    ''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


    Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

    ''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

    Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

    ''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

    Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

    Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.