Pinehurst No 2 Was Hard Test With Few Complaints

By Associated PressJune 21, 2005, 4:00 pm
Tom Meeks was only half-joking when he suggested the ideal ending for his 10 years setting up the U.S. Open would be for the players to gather around for a big group hug.
He got the next best thing - silence.
No one beat par at the U.S. Open for the first time in seven years. Even more surprising was that complaints were about as rare as birdies on Pinehurst No. 2.
Jerry Kelly gave Meeks a thumbs-up after finishing last at 25 over par. Rocco Mediate saw the USGA's senior director of rules and competition standing beyond the 16th green in the third round, walked over to congratulate him on a challenging test, then three-putted for bogey.
And yet, there seemed to be enough evidence the golf course was out of control.
The final pairing Sunday - two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen and feel-good story Jason Gore - played the final round in 25 over par with only one birdie between them. Goosen simply chalked it up to a bad day at the office. Gore wasn't sure what happened, but he sure did have a good time.
'Going from here to anywhere is going to be easy,' Stewart Cink said after a 69, one of only four scores under par in the final round. 'Somebody is going to light it up next week because they're so happy to be out of Pinehurst.'
Maybe so.
But most of them can't wait to come back.
'I think the two Opens they've had here have been great,' Davis Love III said. 'It's definitely a patience test, and that's what they want.'
Such universal praise can only mean two things:
- The players realize the USGA is going to punish them over four days, so they might as well get used to it.
- The USGA has found an ideal spot for the toughest test in golf along the sandhills of North Carolina.
Pinehurst has a way of examining every facet of the game.
The fairways were so firm that tee shots not only had to find the short grass, they had to land at the proper angle to avoid running into the rough. The turtleback greens, which Donald Ross designed and Rees Jones took a little over the top, demanded so much precision that anything missing its mark by as little as 3 feet to the wrong side of the hole often rolled off the green.
Don't have a short game? Don't expect to survive Pinehurst. Players used clubs ranging from fairway metals to long irons to wedges to putters. Imagination was the 15th club in the bag.
'Think about it,' Tiger Woods said after finishing two shots behind Michael Campbell. 'There's really no rough around the greens. I enjoy the opportunity of not having to pull a lob wedge every time I miss a green at the U.S. Open. That's kind of fun. We get to play shots. We're able to have no rough around the greens, and even par is the winning score.'
Meeks and Mike Davis, his successor as senior director of rules and competition, deserve some credit, along with the rest of the staff in khaki pants and starched white shirts.
USGA president Fred Ridley and vice president Walter Driver, who served as chairman of the competition committee, were out early Saturday morning checking out the course conditions and hole locations, making sure it was a stout test without becoming a silly one.
They are helped with a couple of new toys.
One has tentatively been called the 'Thumper.' It measures the firmness of the turf to see how a ball bounces off the fairway and lands on the green. The idea is to make conditions uniform.
'The USGA and everyone should be happy about the play for four straight days,' two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen said, calling the conditions as consistent 'as I've seen them play in any U.S. Open I've played.' (And speaking of consistency, he shot 74 all four rounds).
The other gadget is called the 'Smart Tool,' and it looks like a level used by construction workers. Meeks brought that with him while deciding on Sunday hole locations. It measures the grade of the slope at perpendicular directions, and the idea for greens running at 11.6 on the Stimpmeter is keep the combined slope at a 5 percent grade.
That would have been nice to have in 1998 at Olympic Club, when Payne Stewart's 8-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole of the second round turned away from the cup and didn't stop rolling until it was 25 feet below the hole. Asked what the measurement would have been there, Meeks smiled and said, 'Probably 99 percent.'
Ridley circled every green, showing where not to miss. And he was quick to point out that while several holes were on the edge of the putting surface to invite disaster, every player had the option of hitting into a flat spot away from the hole to give them a chance at birdie - not a short putt, but a safe one.
The USGA waited only six years to return to Pinehurst, the quickest turnaround for a U.S. Open in nearly 60 years. It will have to wait at least eight more years this time - 2013 is the next opening.
'Going back over the last 10 U.S. Opens that I've played, I think it's probably the best,' Cink said. 'You have to execute your shots. You have to plan your shots well. To me, it's the ultimate place for a U.S. Open.
'And I hope they don't come back too often,' he added, 'because I haven't played it too well.'
That's as close to a complaint the USGA heard all week.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''