Millers Advice Beware Oakmont

By Associated PressJune 12, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- They've heard the horror stories about Oakmont, now they're experiencing them up close. The bunkers that look like they could swallow a football field, the greens where a putt even slightly off line might roll all the way to Pittsburgh.
 
It's been 13 years since the U.S. Open last visited Oakmont, home of the most fearsome greens in American championship golf. That's plenty enough time for the field to have changed considerably -- Arnold Palmer was still playing Opens back in 1994, and Tiger Woods was an amateur -- and for new myths to be created for golfers who have yet to tread 7,200 of the sport's scariest yards.
 
'It is stifling difficult, to the point of walking off and feeling like you've got 12 rounds with Ali,' Paul Goydos said Monday.
 
Johnny Miller's advice to all these Oakmont newbies: Believe the stories. Beware of Oakmont.
 
'Only a couple of guys broke 70 in the whole (2003) U.S. Amateur at Oakmont,' said Miller, the 1973 U.S. Open winner at Oakmont. 'They know it's going to be a good test. ... There's some brutal holes out there.'
 
Among the major topics of discussion as the field arrives at Oakmont is the length of the rough, which Oakmont superintendent John Zimmers insists has been cut -- he just didn't say if it was last week or last year. Jim Furyk, playing a practice round Monday with Tiger Woods, can't recall seeing rough so threateningly high or thick during a major.
 
Woods, who has yet to play a competitive round at Oakmont, had problems of his own during his not satisfying tour of Oakmont's hilly terrain. He grumbled about his driver during a round that wouldn't describe afterward, except to say, 'I broke 100.'
 
Just another day at Oakmont Country Club, where one-third of the few hundred members are good enough to have handicaps below 10. Not many duffers here, and they delight in watching the sport's biggest names be frustrated every decade or so by their home course, one that can be set up with such difficulty that par becomes an impossibility.
 
Ask Phil Mickelson how tough and challenging that rough can be.
 
Mickelson has been at Oakmont since at least Saturday but has yet to play a practice round. His left wrist remains heavily bandaged, the result of trying to punch a shot out of Oakmont's rugged rough during a practice round several weeks ago.
 
On Monday, Mickelson limited himself to half-shots from the grass on the practice range before moving up to a hybrid club that, by merely being in his hands, made short-game coach Dave Pelz nervous. Mickelson hit his driver only once before returning to 30-yard chips. He hopes to play a practice round Tuesday.
 
When the record eighth U.S. Open at Oakmont starts Thursday, Miller wonders if some in the field will get off to a start so bad they never recover their confidence or their game.
 
No. 1, a 482-yard par 4, will be the starting hole for half the field, and Miller calls it 'the hardest first hole in the world' -- mostly because of the treacherous slope of the green.
 
'There's no hole with a second shot like that,' Miller said. 'If you miss a fairway and leave it short on the downslope, you can't hardly hit the green with a 40-yard wedge shot. That's just the most brutal starting hole of any course in the world.'
 
No. 10 is slightly easier, a par-4 that will play at either 435 or 462 yards and has a meandering slope that can carry putts not only away from the pin but off the green. Either way, No. 1 or No. 10, there's no easy welcome to Oakmont.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open
  • Getty Images

    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

    Getty Images

    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

    Getty Images

    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x