Notes Varying Green Speeds Being Johnny Miller

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U.S. OpenMAMARONECK, N.Y. -- The slope on the 18th green at Southern Hills was so severe in the 2001 U.S. Open that officials had to change the mowing pattern to keep it fair, leading to a different speed than the other greens.
 
That will be the case at Winged Foot, but its by design.
 
The first green is so severely undulating that to keep it at 12 on the Stimpmeter would create problems.
 
If youve been out to see the first hole, you know that it has a pretty severe slope from back to front, said Jim Hyler, USGA chairman of the championship committee. We are keeping this green speed a little bit slower than the other green speeds, and we have notified the players of this.
 
PROUD AS A PEACOCK
Johnny Miller, the lead golf analyst at NBC Sports, said in a conference call Wednesday that the U.S. Open has the most collapses on the last day of any championship.
 
Then again, NBC televises the U.S. Open. And Miller never won the Masters.
 
World-class players have missed crucial putts and hit wayward shots down the stretch at the U.S. Open, whether it was Tom Lehman at Congressional in 1997, Phil Mickelson at Pinehurst in 1999 or Retief Goosen shooting 81 in the final round at Pinehurst last year.
 
But thats not much different from other majors, and some of the most memorable collapses have come at Augusta National. There was Scott Hoch missing a 2 1/2-foot putt to win in a playoff over Nick Faldo, or Raymond Floyd pulling his approach into the water in another playoff against Faldo.
 
Does Greg Norman blowing a six-shot lead with a 76 in the final round of 1996 ring a bell? Or more recently, Fred Couples three-putting from 4 feet on the 14th hole of the final round this year?
 
More from Miller:
 
The fact that its the United States Open, he said. We are the most powerful country on Earth, obviously we all believe its the greatest country. To win something that says the United States Open Championship, that tends to get your hairs on the back of your head up a little. Every shot is so important.
 
WINGED FOOT VETERAN
Rich Beem figures he has played Winged Foot a half-dozen times, and its one of his favorites. But hes never seen it set up for a major, having not joined the PGA TOUR until 1999.
 
Even so, the memories are priceless.
 
I played a Monday pro-am after I won the Kemper, Beem said. It was $5,000 to tee it up, and then they gave $25,000 for first place. These friends of mine I was staying with were saying it was going to eat me alive. Sight unseen, I shoot 65.
 
It was a handsome payoff for a corporate day at Winged Foot, and coming off his first PGA TOUR victory, Beem was living large.
 
I was 28, just starting out on tour. How did I look at life? Im thinking life was pretty good, he said. Im in New York City that night with $30,000. And I somehow made it home alive.
 
Beem has good friends who are members at Winged Foot, and he continues to play when hes in town.
 
The next two days, the score will be a little more meaningful for the former PGA champion.
 
VIJAYS BALL
Starting at the U.S. Open, Vijay Singh will throw a ball into the gallery after he finishes his final round that will be worth a trip to Thailand for whoever catches it.
 
The promotion is sponsored by Boon Rawd Brewery, which makes Singha Light beer.
 
Whoever retrieves the ball can redeem it for two economy-class plane tickets to Thailand for one week and unlimited rounds at Santiburi Golf Club. In addition, Cleveland Golf will provide the winner with a set of clubs.
 
The promotion will last 12 months at every event Singh plays, which usually is a lot.
 
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