Pinehursts US Open Impact

By Casey BiererJuly 29, 2005, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: Casey Bierer is The Golf Channel's new Business Reporter. He will file regular Business Edge columns so be sure to check back for his latest offerings.
PINEHURST, NC -- Aside from a couple of dog days of summer, Pinehurst is as it always seems to be; a near perfect setting for some of the worlds best golf. A living, breathing Norman Rockwell painting, Pinehurst is a place where, for all practical purposes, time has stood still to call back a simpler era of gentle Southern hospitality and everlasting charm. Except, of course, when you consider that approximately 400,000 people just blew through here six short weeks ago for the U.S. Open.

I can honestly say, there were no negatives this year, said Steven Smith, Mayor of Pinehurst. In 1999, people didnt know what to expect. Was the event going to be too big for the Village of Pinehurst to handle? But, Pinehurst Resort did such a great job on traffic logistics and the infrastructureit went off almost flawlessly. This year, it was a repeat of 1999 from a logistical standpoint visa vi the village. In fact, I have not heard a single discouraging word. And thats odd from a town full of retirees.
Pinehursts Village Manager, Andy Wilkison, concurs. It was noticeably more intense this time than in ninety-nine. There were way more people in town. The first two days of the Open in 1999 had maybe twelve to fifteen thousand out there on Monday and Tuesday. On the first day this year, we had some 35,000 people. We knew 2005 was going to be different than 1999 from that respect.
In fact, for tournament days, there were some 55,000 people on the course at any given time. This number includes everyone: spectators, volunteers, media, USGA officials and groundskeepers. As Mayor Smith looks back in retrospect, it couldnt have gone better. I think the U.S. Open is one of the key sporting events anywhere in the world. You think of the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Indy 500. Its certainly in the upper echelon of sport. And each year I think the U.S. Open is going to get bigger. When it comes back here again ' and I do think it will return here in 2013 or 2014 ' its going to be even that much bigger. The great thing about Pinehurst Resort, because of the abundance of space and the Resorts relationship with the Village of Pinehurst, it can handle attendance growth extremely well.
Attendance growth naturally relates to the economic impact the U.S. Open can have on a community. Caleb Miles is the President and CEO of the Convention and Visitors Bureau ' Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area; the official destination marketing organization for Moore County. They use an economic impact model called IM-Plan to estimate two primary revenue indicator numbers. First, the direct spending number - in the 12 counties surrounding Moore County where Pinehurst is located, estimated at $70.8 million. Second, new dollars, which takes into account payroll dollars to include the people that work in the community and not just visitors. This figure is approximately $124 million.
We use an intercept form of collecting the data. We track the number of people who attend the event, the number of days they spend in the community broken down even more specifically to day visitors and overnight visitors, and, how much money visitors spend while they are here, said Miles. Moore County has just over 2,600 hotel rooms. The U.S. Open required 10,000 rooms on peak days. We used a regional housing system that includes the twelve counties around Pinehurst to accommodate all the people. With major access points to Pinehurst like Raleigh/Durham and Greensboro being in relative close proximity to Pinehurst, people were able to find places to stay away from the tournament site while still having a convenient drive to get here.
According to Beth Kocher, Executive VP, Pinehurst Resort and Chairman 2005 U.S. Open, We are so pleased the USGA says the Open will return to Pinehurst. No specific date has been locked down but we have been told to anticipate 2013 or 2014. She went on to say, The USGA was extremely complimentary of the course, our tournament presentation, the crowds we got, they just could not have been happier.
As we all know, 9/11 changed the way everyone thinks about security. Major sporting events are no exception. Pinehurst Police Chief Ernest Hooker was handling security at the 1999 U.S. Open. It was mostly about traffic flow and pedestrian management. The 2005 U.S. Open meant real security issues. Chief Hooker was pleased with the results. The Chief says, We were concerned because of the events of 9/11. But, we had the advantage of having the Open here in 1999. We learned a lot from that experience.
Security preparation for the 2005 U.S. Open started about a year-and-a-half before the tournament. We met with not only the people putting on the tournament, but also the North Carolina State Police and the Sheriffs Departmentand from the beginning we were working towards a common goal. We were all trying to achieve the same thing ' optimum security and safety. I think we accomplished that quite well.
I think the sense of pride of hosting the U.S. Open, of being able to go the Open, of saying I live in Pinehurst and look, were on the world stagewell, in a way, this intangible package almost overrides the economic package locally, Mayor Smith said when asked if hosting a U.S. Open was worth the effort. Sure, the hotels and restaurants are packed. The business people, the retail shops, they had a significant up-tick in their business. But, its not just about economics. To see the community come together to put on this event is the real payoff.
Email your thoughts to Casey Bierer
Getty Images

With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

Getty Images

Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

Getty Images

Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

Getty Images

Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1