Pinehurst No 2 Was Hard Test With Few Complaints
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.'
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.
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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut
If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.
Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.
But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.
Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.
Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:
Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180
Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70
Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5
Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450
Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200
Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000
Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements
SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.
Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.
“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.
“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”
Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.
“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”
Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back
SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.
Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.
Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim.
Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.
Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026
SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.
“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.
In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.