Language Of Winning at Oakmont

By Brian HewittJune 16, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- The two best lines Ive heard all week'so far'are both funny and informing.
 
Kirk Triplett is getting most of the credit for being the player who said this of the 288-yard, par-3 eighth at Oakmont: Its the only hole I know where they can have a long drive contest and a closest to the pin.
 
Somebody else sized up Saturdays final pairing of Bubba Watson and Angel Cabrera and said this: The only thing they have in common is neither one speaks English.
 
Cabrera being from Argentina, dont you know. And Watson hailing from rural Florida.
 
Actually they both share otherworldly length off the tee. But the point of all this is how disorienting Oakmont can be and how important it has become for players to learn Oakmonts unique language.
 
Enter Tiger Woods, golfs polylinguist extraordinaire.
 
In the end Sunday, the winner will be the player who will have best blended a mixture of skill, resolve and golf Berlitz. For the 107th U.S. Open, it turns out, is a quadratic equation--X and Y variables all over the place. Solve it and youve got a chance to win.
 
'They say for every four pars you make it's like a birdie,' said Jeff Brehaut, who fashioned a taut 70 Saturday. 'That's about right. Just do the math.'
 
Enter Tiger Woods, golfs calculating calculist.
 
His challenge, and make no mistake he will relish it, is to track down Australian Aaron Baddeley Sunday. Woods is 4 over after 54 holes. Baddeley is 2 over. They will be playing in the final pairing. Note this: Woods has never come from behind after 54 holes to win any of his 12 major victories.
 
They say theres a first time for everything. For his part, Baddeley has been striking the ball with confidence all week and his putting has been better.
 
But a word of warning: The language of grind, it turns out surprisingly, may be counterproductive here. The weekend player tells the sad story about the four and a half hour round of golf where he can only concentrate for four. The other 30 minutes ruin his round.
 
The best players in the world are mentally conditioned to grind four days with few mental lapses. But even Woods has limits to his reservoir of grind. And Oakmont is a place where those limits can be reached.
 
On Day One here Nick Dougherty blithely made his way around in 68 pops. Led the championship and talked afterward about how much fun he had and how much he enjoyed the noises of the American crowds. This was Doughertys way of turning off the pressure. It lasted a day. He carded 77 Friday.
 
After his Friday 66, which will undoubtedly stand as the championships lowest round, Paul Casey also addressed the zone that, when achieved, can protect a player from the rigors of a golf course like Oakmont. In 1973 when Johnny Millers final round 63 won the U.S. Open here at Oakmont, one of the first questions asked after his round was, What was going through your mind?
 
Absolutely nothing, Miller responded. Or words to that effect.
 
Told of Millers comments back then, Casey said, Theres rarely anything going through my mind when Im playing golf.
 
At least not good golf.
 
Casey, by the way, actually counted his strokes in Wednesdays last practice round. It was 1-under 69 and he won a dinner bet from Victor Garcia, Sergios father. The method to this madness was Caseys first round struggles in majors. In April at Augusta Casey opened with 79 and followed it with 68. Here it was 77-66. Wouldnt Paul Casey, three back of Baddeley now, love to have that 69 back and be able to count it Sunday?
 
Stephen Ames, also three back of Baddeley, caught himself in the middle of his second round. As the day was going on, I realized that I was slowly starting to get into a rut of thinking score and stuff, Ames said. So I started to crack some more jokes.
 
The result was a 69, the only other round under par for that day.
 
'You have to switch gears,' Brehaut said.
 
Phil Mickelson, on the other hand, appears to have overthought the whole process. On an extended pre-championship visit he injured his wrist. And it didnt recover in time. He shot 74-77 and missed the cut by a shot.
 
Im going to have to change things, Mickelson said before getting out of town. Only time will tell exactly what that means.
 
But one of the lessons of Oakmont so far has been this: Let the game come to you. Or, failing that, make sure to stay true to yourself.
 
Youve got to figure out what works best for you, Woods said. Thats the hard part. I know I cant play as stoic as Hogan, and I cant talk as much as Trevino; you have to be your own person.
 
And, at Oakmont, you have to understand that Oakmont is going to be its own golf course.
 
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    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

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    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.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    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.