PINEHURST, N.C. – Mike Davis will tell anyone who will listen that he could care less about the winning score at a U.S. Open.
Be it Justin Rose’s 1-over-par total last year at mean Merion, or Martin Kaymer’s 9-under total at Pinehurst, conditions and the champion’s performance ultimately decide the final outcome.
That resolve, however, was questioned late Sunday when Davis, the USGA’s executive director, was asked if he was comfortable with Kaymer’s surgical dismantling of one of America's most storied courses.
“The score for me is not a metric on whether it was a good set up for the week. I look at it as how the golf course played,” Davis said.
“I can remember we got some criticism in 2000 because Tiger (Woods) shot 12 under at Pebble Beach. I kind of scratched my head thinking, OK, the best score for the other 155 players was 3 over. So to me we should celebrate what Martin Kaymer did this week. He executed beautifully.”
Despite the Ben Crenshaw/Bill Coore redesign of the No. 2 course, which many observers believed would lead to higher scoring than at past Pinehurst Opens, this week’s scoring average was 73.07, more than a stroke lower than the last time the championship was played at Pinehurst in 2005 (74.16) and 1999 (74.54).
What seems to be throwing most fans, however, was Sunday’s setup, which played to the week’s lowest scoring average (72.40). That, said Davis, was always the plan.
“What we really did was try to make Sunday a good, stern, comprehensive test. But we also wanted to give some opportunities where we could see some spread in scoring,” Davis said.
“Whether it was one of the drivable par 4s, whether it was the par 5s that were reachable in two, where you might have seen an eagle, birdie. But you also may have seen a bogey or worse. That was the mindset going into it.”