This will not be a problem this weekend at Oakmont.
Mike Davis, the USGAs course set-up guy, told me the course will be closed Thursday and Friday afternoon while he and his staff plot out the hole locations for the championship. Davis also said the course will be closed for play to members most of Saturday and all of Sunday.
Meanwhile Davis is amused at how Oakmonts members, notorious golfing sadists, have finally gotten behind his idea for the new tee box that can stretch the par-3 eighth hole to 288 yards. Originally, he said, the members thought he was out of his mind when he broached the idea.
Then Oakmont head pro Bob Ford stepped in and said the championship needed a par-3 that would put a longer club in the hands of the players. Now, Davis says, the members are urging him to use the back tee box all four days. Davis said that wont happen. Hes in love with the back left hole location but thinks its too difficult to get at from the back tees. So when the hole is located back left, the tee box used will be the one from the next spot up, approximately 255 yards to the hole.
Add Hank Haneys name to the list of those predicting high scores for next week. Haney, Tiger Woods swing coach, accompanied Tiger during his practice round Monday at Oakmont.
I think every course I see is the hardest ever, Haney said. But this time I really think Im right.
The rough, Haney said, seems like the hardest that I have ever seen at a major, the ball just goes straight to the bottom.
The greens, Haney added, are just so severe.
As for Tigers game, Haney said, I feel like it is coming along; he really hit the ball quite well in the Memorial (last week) and hopefully that is a good sign. He finally got a good score on Sunday with his 67.
Finally, Haney said he expects Woods to use anywhere from four to seven drivers a round depending on the hole and tee box locations.
CAT IN THE HAT:
It has been called, among other things, a painters hat, a Castro hat and a military hat.
It is what Ryan Moore is wearing on his head on the golf course these days.
Nobody else owns one. Yet.
Whether it becomes a trend remains to be seen. But the good folks at PING apparently think it will. According to Chance Cozby, PINGs TOUR rep, the distinctive chapeau Moore now doffs after every birdie, was already in the companys apparel pipeline before Moore approached them.
Moore, the 2004 U.S. Amateur champion and a member of PINGs stable, decided he wanted to wear the same kind of hat he wears when hes not playing golf. The reason: Comfort. I like wearing this hat socially, he told the PING people. Id like to wear it on the golf course.
After Moore birdied five of the last six holes at the Memorial Sunday to finish alone in second place, many people took notice. Cozby said there were a lot of calls to the companys north Phoenix headquarters Monday about the distinctive headgear they have now dubbed The Ryan Moore Hat.
And, yes, The Ryan Moore Hat will be coming soon to a pro shop near you. An exact shipping date has not yet been determined. And, Cozby concedes, its not a hat for everybody. He said hes not holding his breath waiting for PING staff players Mark Calcavecchia or Chris DiMarco to request a Ryan Moore Hat.
Its not for everybody and we dont expect it to be, Cozby says.
Meanwhile, back on the golf course, Moore followed up his Sunday performance in Columbus with a pair of Monday 68s at sectional qualifying to play his way into next weeks U.S. Open at Oakmont.
Its interesting to note that one year before Moore won his U.S. Amateur at Winged Foot he qualified for match play in the 2003 U.S. Amateur at Oakmont where he lost 1-up in the first round to Lee Williams. He knows the track.
In short, Moore belongs on anybody's list of dark horses for next week. And he wont be hard to spot.
The agent for injured Natalie Gulbis is already predicting she will be returning less than two weeks for the CVS Caremark Charity Classic in Rhode Island June 18-19.
The CVS is a 20-player team event with 18 holes each day. The defending champions are Nick Price and Tim Clark. Gulbis and her partner, Juli Inkster, will be the first women to play in the event popularized by local heroes Billy Andrade and Brad Faxon. The venue is Rhode Island Country Club.
Gulbis withdrew from last weeks Ginn Tribute on the LPGA Tour with a bad back. A Monday examination in Maryland showed two herniated disks in her lower back. Surgery has not been prescribed and Gulbis people say doctors have predicted a fast recovery.
She was also forced to the sideline for this week's McDonald's LPGA Championship, the LPGA's second major of the season. Gulbis tied for fifth at Bulle Rock in 2005.
A quick check with PGA TOUR officials revealed that circuit has no 88 rule similar to the one Michelle Wie dodged last week on the LPGA.
The LPGAs rule says any non-member who cards an 88 or worse in an LPGA event is ineligible to play in LPGA events the rest of that calendar year.
Wie withdrew in the first round at the Ginn Tribute after being 14 over par through 16 holes.
THE WOOING OF PABLO:
Spains Pablo Martin, recently of Oklahoma State and a winner already this year on the European Tour, is making his professional debut this week at the Stanford St. Jude Championship in Memphis.
An announcement was expected Thursday from Nike that that company had won a hotly-contested bidding process for Martin's services.
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