Bethpage Confidential

By Jay CoffinJune 18, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' The 109th U.S. Open began here Thursday at Bethpage Black but it didnt get far. Here is a list of things we noted to watch for prior to Round 1. Sadly, 24 hours later, they all still apply:
Water, water everywhere
Not water as in hazards on the course, only the eighth hole has water. Rather water as in rain thats forecast in the area for each of the next nine days. The course already is pretty soggy in spots, including the 18th fairway, which is a major concern. To help, the U.S. Golf Association has 220 volunteers committed to working on the grounds crew, has roughly 80 squeegees ready for the greens, will likely move the tees forward so that the players can negotiate the course easier and will not position holes in the lower lying areas of the greens where water will collect. The USGA made it clear that under no circumstance will the championship be played under lift, clean and place. It is going to be a long week.
(Update: Play was halted at 10:16 a.m. Thursday, then for good at 1:55 p.m. Although the forecast is better for Friday, the forecast for Saturday is eerily similar to Thursday. Its not likely that the second round will be completed by Saturday, which means were staring a Monday finish right in the chops.)
All eyes on Tiger
While everyone seems ready to hand major No. 15 to Tiger Woods, his first-round performance often is an indicator of how well he does for the week at a U.S. Open. In 6 U.S. Opens where he has finished in the top 10 his first-round scoring average is 68.83. In the 7 Opens where hes finished outside the top 10 his scoring average is 73.71. Of the three U.S. Open victories for Woods, his highest first-round score was 72 last year at Torrey Pines.
(Update: Tiger scrambled for par on the first hole, doubled the fifth but made birdie from 15 feet on the sixth. Thats as far as he got. Still way too early to tell what his game looks like here. But we know hell be in contention by the end of the week. Or will it be the beginning of next week?)
How will Phil handle his emotions?
As if Phil Mickelson hasnt endeared himself to the New York faithful enough over the years, he said Wednesday that hes brushed up on his knowledge of New York sports so he can have thoughtful dialogue should he find himself in a discussion with the gallery. Still, this is going to be a difficult week for Lefty, and he knows it. Although players often say they use the time inside the ropes as a chance to get away from the distractions of the outside world, itll be difficult here because everyone will be sending well wishes to Phil as his wife Amy prepares for breast cancer treatment back home in California. Itll be compelling to see how he reacts on the first tee.
Im going to do the best that I can, Mickelson said. I feel like my game is ready, but you never know. I feel like emotionally Im better, but you just never know.
(Update: Lefty didnt even make it to Bethpage Thursday as his tee time was scheduled for 1:36. The Lefty lovefest here will have to wait another day.)
And then theres Sergio
The anti-Mickelson is likely to be Sergio Garcia. The New Yorkers dont forget and many of the same fans giving Sergio the business here in 2002 for his club-milking and whining will be back for a repeat performance. Youll also remember that Sergio pouted about the weather, saying that Woods always seems to be on the best end of the draw. Although he comes into this week saying I love New York itll be interesting to see if the fans buy that line, or if theyll add to the 2002 mess by reminding Sergio of his more recent episodes ' complaining after the Masters this year and news that hes been down in the dumps because of girl troubles with Greg Normans daughter, Morgan Leigh.
(Update: Sergio wasnt scheduled to tee off until 1:25 p.m. so he didnt make it here either.)
Not since the Beatles?
Thats right, not since the Beatles broke up has a European won the U.S. Open. Englishman Tony Jacklin won the Open at Hazeltine in 1970, the same year the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in the U.S. There are candidates aplenty this year. Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson and Padraig Harrington come to mind.
This would be the (major) that maybe Ive struggled at the most, said Paul Casey, ranked No. 3 in the World Rankings. So as a personal sort of victory, I think it would be, sort of almost seen as a greater achievement. And to do something that hasnt been achieved in 39 years would be massive. So I would love to try and achieve that.
(Update: Swedens Johan Edfors is 1 under after four holes and Englishman Ian Poulter is even par after seven holes. But its still way too early.)
No seventh heaven
The seventh hole is more like hell than it is heaven. Although its early in a round, it still is going to produce some high, rally-killing numbers. At 525-yards, this beast of a hole will be the longest par 4 in the history of the Open and its actually longer than the par-5 fourth hole (517 yards). Heres how long the hole is. During a Tuesday practice round J.B. Holmes ' one of the longest mashers on Tour ' hit driver, 5-wood barely onto the green. David Toms hit driver, 3-wood and was 30 yards short. Yikes.
(Update: Only 18 players completed the hole and Tiger Woods will begin on the hole when play resumes. There were 10 bogeys and eight pars on the hole for a 4.55 stroke average. The hole will be a big concern as the week progresses.)
First-round wonders
Sure, everyone will be watching Woods and Mickelson but if you remember, it was Justin Hicks and Kevin Streelman who were the first-round leaders at Torrey Pines at last years U.S. Open. And Eric Axley was a shot off the lead. Ultimately, Axley tied for ninth and Hicks and Streelman fell quickly down the leaderboard in the second round and were never heard from again. But thats of no significance. Point is, someone weve never heard of will shoot a good number in Round 1 and introduce himself to the world.
(Update: Would any of the four players at 1 under par qualify as a first-round wonder? Jeff Brehaut, Johan Edfors, Andrew Parr or Ryan Spears? I believe the answer is all of the above.)
Related Links:
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    Watch that time Tiger throttled Ames, 9 and 8

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 20, 2018, 4:54 pm

    Nine and eight. Three words that live in golf lore. Just say them and any golf fan can tell you what they mean.

    In the 2006 WGC-Match Play, Tiger Woods faced Stephen Ames in the opening round. Ames, when asked prior to the event about his chance of winning, infamously said, "Anything can happen, especially where he's hitting it."

    What happened on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at La Coasta Resort & Spa, was the most lopsided result in tournament history: 9 and 8 Check out the highlights below:

    After his win, Woods was asked if Ames' comment had motivated him. Woods replied, "9 and 8."

    Woods eventually lost, 1 up, to Chad Campbell in the third round. He then won his next start at Doral and went on to finish the season with six consecutive Tour wins, including The Open and PGA. He also won his first start in 2007 to make it seven consecutive Tour titles.

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    Schedule change, caddie change for Casey at Match Play

    By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 4:12 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Paul Casey originally planned to skip the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, opting for two weeks off before the Masters.

    Those plans changed when he removed the Arnold Palmer Invitational from his schedule and returned home to England last week to attend the funeral of a family friend. That adjustment also prompted a caddie change this week, with Scott Vail stepping in for the Englishman’s normal caddie, John McLaren.

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    “We looked at tickets and it just didn't make sense for Johnny to fly back. We try and base our schedule around playing the best golf possible, but also having quality family time,” Casey said on Tuesday at Austin Country Club. “For Johnny to break up a nice three-week break with his family, there was no point to ruining that.”

    This isn’t the first time Casey, who won the Valspar Championship two weeks ago, has needed a replacement caddie. At last year’s Travelers Championship, McLaren took a similar break and was replaced on the bag by Shannon Wallace. Although it’s not uncommon for caddies to take a week off, McLaren does have one stipulation.

    “The only rule we have is that if Johnny is not going to work, he picks my caddie. So he picked the caddie,” said Casey, who is 20-12-1 in 12 starts at the Match Play and has advanced to the championship match twice.

    Westchester Country Club hosted the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship. (Getty) Getty Images

    Westchester selected to host 2021 U.S. Women's Am

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 20, 2018, 3:20 pm

    The USGA announced Tuesday that Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., has been selected to host the 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur. The tournament will be held Aug. 2-8, 2021.

    The club's West Course first hosted the event in 1923, and it boasts a storied history of professional tournaments as well. The PGA Tour hosted the Westchester Classic, later known as the Buick Classic and eventually The Barclays, at Westchester from 1967-2007, including the first-ever FedExCup playoff event, won by Steve Stricker in 2007.

    The course was also the site of the 2011 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, won by Fred Couples, and the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship, won by Inbee Park.

    "The USGA is thrilled to bring the U.S. Women's Amateur to Westchester Country Club for the second time," Stuart Francis, USGA championship committee chairman, said in a release. "One of the USGA's three oldest championships, the Women's Amateur consistently identifies the world's top female players, and we are confident Westchester will provide the ultimate test for the championship's 121st playing."

    First held in 1895, the Women's Amateur is open to players with a USGA handicap index not exceeding 5.4. Sophia Schubert won last year's event at San Diego Country Club, while this year's tournament will be held at The Golf Club of Tennessee in Kingston Springs.

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    Stock Watch: Park rises again, under the radar

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 20, 2018, 12:48 pm

    Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


    Rory (+10%): The massive drives, the fist pumps, the unmistakable strut – McIlroy finally found the spark that he needed to play confident, aggressive golf. Bring on Augusta and his shot at history.

    Tiger (+7%): It was another forgettable end to a final round, but let’s not lose sight of the big picture: Five events into his comeback, Woods has now carded 10 consecutive rounds of par or better – all on tough tracks – and can be viewed as a legitimate threat at the Masters. Remarkable, really.

    Inbee Park (+5%): Fighting injuries and questioning whether she should retire, the Queen ‘Bee routed a top field in just her second start back. Stud.

    Bryson (+3%): When The Machine operates properly, he’s one of the best ball-strikers in the world. Yes, he’s still painfully slow, but there’s no denying his talent – his runner-up against a star-studded field should help him tremendously.

    Laura Davies (+2%): Fifty-four years old and nursing an Achilles injury, she turned back the clock with one of the coolest performances of the young season, on any tour. She’s still got tons of game.


    Henrik Stenson (-1%): Maybe he’s just destined to go winless at Bay Hill. In the past four years, he’s had three excellent chances to win there and came away empty-handed each time.

    Rickie (-2%): Hanging near the lead, Fowler closed his third round bogey-double, then shot 74 in the final round to drop out of the top 10. Sigh.  

    P-Reed (-3%): His whiny protest to a rules official about a free drop – “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth” – got even juicier when the Ryder Cup partners were drawn in the same group at the Match Play. Get your popcorn ready.

    Ted Potter Jr. (-5%): His impressive victory at Pebble Beach over DJ, Phil and J-Day is looking more and more like a fluke each week. He’s now missed four consecutive cuts.

    Fan behavior (-7%): Another week, another player complaining about increasingly hostile spectators. The Tour has (frustratingly) remained quiet on the issue, but the tipping point will come when one of these dopes affects the outcome on the 72nd hole.