Notes The Word of Week isKikuyu


2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- Ben Curtis was still wearing a San Diego Chargers shirt and cap after his practice round on Wednesday when Nate Kaeding, the kicker for Southern Californias only NFL team, walked up and said, You look good in that Chargers gear.
Kaeding and punter Mike Scifres then presented Curtis with a powder-blue Chargers shirt to add to his wardrobe for the U.S. Open starting Thursday on Torrey Pines South Course.
Curtis, an avid football fan who won the British Open in 2003, wears the apparel of the local NFL team during PGA TOUR stops. Reebok, which outfits NFL teams, is one of Curtis sponsors.
Reebok is doing more this week than just providing shirts and hats. Curtis shirts will feature an embroidered blue ribbon on the left sleeve, signifying his support for prostate cancer research. Reebok will donate $5,000 to the Prostate Cancer Foundation for every birdie Curtis makes at the Open, or a minimum of $20,000, and will also give $1 million if he makes a hole-in-one on Sunday.
Its a great deal, a great cause, Curtis said. Reebok called last week and wanted to do something special for Fathers Day weekend. We thought this would be the best thing.
Kaeding likes what Curtis is doing, especially this week.
I cant imagine how many millions of people will be watching this tournament, and at a great venue like this, to have the Chargers colors represented, especially by a major championship winner like Ben, is great for the organization, Kaeding said. This whole event is so great for the city of San Diego in general, so to be part of it is great.
Kaeding thinks kicking a field goal is a little tougher than standing over a crucial putt, but what these guys do, thats pretty tough, too, because youre all by yourself there, no teammates to help you out, none of that.
There are also similarities in repeating a swing, Kaeding said.
Sometimes youve got to do it with an immense amount of pressure on you and that kind of changes the circumstances a little bit, he said.
Sean OHair withdrew Wednesday because of a pulled chest muscle and was replaced by Gary Wolstenholme, a 47-year-old career amateur from England.
The 25-year-old OHair won the PODS Championship in March, his second PGA TOUR victory.
Theres lots of kikuyu grass in the fairways and rough on the Torrey Pines South Course, and golfers and TV commentators will no doubt be talking about it a lot.
I think perhaps to put it in the shortest description, Pat Gross, our agronomist, has described kikuyu as Bermuda on steroids, USGA president Jim Vernon, who lives in Pasadena, said at a news conference Wednesday. It sends out very aggressive runners. Its a fairly broad leaf and a very tough leaf. It is a very thick, wiry grass. For those of us who play golf here in Southern California, we know all about it, and I certainly have a very good patch of it in my backyard, as a matter of fact.
The upshot, of course, is this: To get your club through that grass takes a very aggressive swing, Vernon said. And theres a certain technique to it. It takes a certain amount of practice, especially around the greens, to have a better idea of how that ball might come out of the kikuyu.
When the PGA TOURs Buick Invitational is played early in the year, its on overseeded rye.
For the Open, golfers will encounter kikuyu, poa annua and rye in the roughs.
And these three grasses really introduce a lot of inconsistency in the rough, the USGAs Jim Hyler said. And the players will be challenged quite a bit when they do hit it in the rough about how their ball will react when they try to play a shot out of it.
With a hot spell this spring, the kikuyu has really popped, Hyler said.
Few players speak as bluntly as Mark Calcavecchia, even when it comes to his chances of winning'or not'this week.
Calcavecchia said his body is not in the best shape.
Whats hurting?
My foot, knee, back, shoulder and brain, he said.
Otherwise, everything else is fine?
My confidence is at an all-time low, he added.
He has been at Torrey Pines all week but still has not played the full 18 holes. Part of that is finding a good time to stop his practice round. He has played the first six holes, then No. 10 and part of the 14th.
I hit a 4-iron into the 14th, then walked over to the right and went straight to the shuttle, he said.
But at least he had a chance to play the 13th, a par 5 with a new tee box that stretches the hole to 614 yards. Calcavecchia decided to walk to the back tee and hit a driver. And then what?
I was looking for a cart to get back to the fairway, he said.
He also practiced this way for the British Open at St. Andrews. Staying in the Old Course hotel, he rolled out of bed and over to the second tee, then quit on the 17th because the green was near his room. The only time he played the 18th during a practice round was when he had to register for the tournament.
One of the charms of Torrey Pines will be missing during the Open. There will be no hang gliders floating silently overheard as they often do during the Buick Invitational.
The Torrey Pines Gliderport, just south of the golf course, is closed due to security and because officials needed the space for other uses during the Open.
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