Concern Grows Over US Open Course


PINEHURST, N.C. -- Despite some rumors, Pinehurst No. 2 will be ready for the U.S. Open, an official of the U.S. Golf Association said Thursday.
The 156 contestants arrive for their practice rounds June 13, when they'll find out if the Donald Ross-designed course will be as challenging as it was in 1999, or if it will be less daunting because of uncooperative weather.
Mike Davis, the U.S. Golf Association senior director of competitions, walked the course Thursday and said he was pleased with what he saw.
'It looks marvelous,' Davis said. 'The greens look perfect. The fairways are in wonderful condition.'
Instead of 90-degree weather to help the rough grow to its customary height, temperatures have been in the 70s, too cool to spur growth.
Three inches of primary rough is the target. Pinehurst installed a new irrigation system to help the grass grow, and Davis said he was confident the rough will be there.
'It's a little spotty, but I don't see any reason why the rough won't be ready for the Open,' he said. 'Once we get some heat, the rough is going to be just fine.'
Tiger Woods, who tied for third in the 1999 Open, said he'd heard the growing conditions were bad.
'From what I've heard so far, they've had some bad growing conditions,' Woods said Wednesday as he prepared for the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio.
'Right there will be the difference this year than it was (in 1999),' Woods said. 'Last time, if you missed in the rough, you had some serious work to get it on the green. This year, I think we can get it to the green, but we might not be able to get it to hold.'
Asked Wednesday about the rough, course superintendent Paul Jett said, 'It's spotty - that's a good word for it.'
'In some places, it's two inches. In some places, it's three inches. We're hoping in two weeks it won't be an issue.'
Jett, who wasn't immediately available for comment Thursday, experienced the same anxiety in 1999. But the weather cooperated, the temperature and humidity rose, and the rough grew in nicely for the Open.
'I would like it to be better than what it is,' Jett said, 'but there's nothing more we can do. We're in the same boat we were in '99. With 10 days left before the Open, it got really hot - in the mid-90s. We need that.'
It was rainy and cool Thursday, with more rain expected for Friday and highs in the 70s. Forecasts call for highs to reach into the 80s over the weekend and into next week.
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