Olympia Fields Research

By Brian HewittMay 7, 2003, 4:00 pm
OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. -- It was cold and windy and wet. But it was time for field research, as they call it at the USGA. In other words, I was at the site of this years U.S. Open, approximately five weeks before the start of the tournament, to play the golf course and get a sneak peak at the preparations.
 
Yeah, yeah, its a dirty job, but somebodys got to do it. My hosts were Brian Morrison, Olympia Fields smart and encyclopedic director of golf, and Rick Disney, one of the clubs board members.
 
What I found was a wonderful old Willie Park Jr. design with greens that are more subtle than they are penal. The course will play close to 7,200 yards for the Open at a par of 70. We played it at about 6,900 yards.
 
Early on, we lost a couple of balls in the rough. No surprise that. At least not until I asked Morrison to rate the rough length on a 1-10 basis with 10 being the length the rough will play for the tournament. I wanted a number.
 
Five, he said.
 
Yikes.
 
On the other hand, the fairways already have been tailored to the width Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson will find them when the tournament begins June 12. And the interesting part is when you stand on the tees, it looks like there is a lot of room. Obviously that perspective changes when you get into the fairway.
 
Soon the inevitable question arose: Will this course, where Johnny Farrell beat Bobby Jones in a playoff for the U.S. Open way back in 1928, be a bombers paradise?
 
Morrison didnt think so. I couldnt disagree. But I think the high-ball hitter will have an advantage at Olympia Fields North course. Thats because the tougher par-4s play into elevated, smallish greens. Morrison threw out the names of Jeff Maggert and David Toms as players whose style of play should suit the set-up. I believe the majorless Phil Mickelson, who has four top-10s in the last five U.S. Opens, will once again be a major factor.
 
Meanwhile, the fingerprints of USGA set-up guy Tom Meeks are all over the fifth hole, which will probably play the toughest against par during the tournament. Under Meeks direction, the fairway has been moved to the right, trees have been cleared out on that side and - lo and behold - a creek now comes into play for any right-hander who pushes his tee ball on this 444-yard par-4.
 
Meeks Creek, Morrison has dubbed it.
 
There are 36 holes at Olympia Fields, which means there is plenty of room on the South course for corporate tents, media headquarters and a driving range. Ten tee boxes have been added (read: new length) since the USGA last visited Olympia Fields at the 1997 Senior Open.
 
What I didnt know, until Morrison educated me, was that Amos Alonzo Stagg, the late and famous football coach at the University of Chicago, was the first president of Olympia Fields. Stagg loved the Olympics and the members played many sports other than golf at the club in those days. Hence the name Olympia Fields. In the '20s there were twice as many members at Olympia Fields (1000) as there are now.
 
But the charm remains at a club that, at one time, had fescue greens and no bunkers at all. By the end of my day two things stood out:
 
First, this should be a very representative U.S. Open. Second, Im glad I dont have to make a living trying to keep the wheels on for 72 holes on tracks like these.
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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."