Notes Furrowed Bunkers Annika Update

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With THE PLAYERS behind us, its officially Open Season. Specifically, the U.S. Open will begin Thursday June 14 at historic and feared Oakmont.
 
The latest discussion centers on the consistency and the raking of the bunkers. Jack Nicklaus, in the June issue of Golf Digest, says the USGA is missing an opportunity at Oakmont by not furrowing the sand there to increase the difficulty of an already ferocious test.
 
Nicklaus ordered up gap-toothed bunker rakes for his Memorial Tournament last year, and the move was met with a collective howl from the players (which is not necessarily a bad thing).
 
Nicklaus also told Golf Digest that he will furrow the bunkers again at this years Memorial, which begins May 31. But, he said, the rakes will produce furrows that are less severe.
 
Meanwhile, USGA course set-up guy Mike Davis told me the USGA considered furrowing the bunkers at Oakmont where there is a history of that kind of conditioning.
 
Instead, the USGA came down on the side of a softer sand that causes player headaches of a different kind. Its harder to nip the ball (out of soft sand), Davis said. Were not afraid of the player getting an occasional fried egg.
 
And he wasnt talking about the concession stands.
 
ANNIKA UPDATE:
Still no official word yet on whether Annika Sorenstam or Michelle Wie will be playing in the Ginn Tribute Hosted By Annika that begins in South Carolina at the end of the month. But the news, at least from the Sorenstam camp, is encouraging. Both Wie (hand) and Sorenstam (neck and back) have been sidelined by injuries for much of the year.
 
Sorenstam spokesman Mike McGee reports that Annika has been off painkillers since last week and the discomfort hasnt returned. Which we think is great, McGee said.
 
Among Sorenstams daily therapy exercises is one where she utilizes a device that stretches her neck while she lies on her back. The object is to take stress on her vertebrae.
 
Sorenstam has been chipping and putting every day and, most recently, began hitting 25-50 100-yard shots off a tee. This, too, is without pain; although, McGee says, shes still hesitant to go down and dig the ball out of the dirt.
 
Shes hoping to play the Ginn Tribute, McGee says, but we still have no idea or true time frame.
 
Sorenstam is still experiencing tingling in here right thumb and soreness in her rotator cuff and arm area.
 
Wie has committed to play in Sorenstams event but is still waiting for the green light from her hand specialist to play in the Ginn Tribute.
 
Both players are acutely aware that the McDonalds LPGA Championship Presented by Coca-Cola and the U.S. Womens Open fill two of the next three slots on the LPGA schedule in the weeks after the Ginn Tribute.
 
GRASS IS GREENER:
The success of the playing surface of the greens at THE PLAYERS last week did not go unnoticed by golf officials elsewhere.
 
Ken Mangum, the Director of Golf Courses and Grounds at the Atlanta Athletic Club, reports that he is considering changing grasses for his greens between now and the 2011 PGA Championship.
 
The reason?
 
So we can have some firmness that makes the course play different than the soft August bentgrass, Mangum informed me.
 
Mangum also said a decision has been made to upgrade the grave site Friday of golf great Bobby Jones. It needed some work, Mangum said, and we are going to install new sod and a flag with the four Grand Slam trophies on it.
 
Jones is buried in Atlantas historic Oakland Cemetery, which also contains the tomb of Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With The Wind.
 
SEVE AT 50:
Hard to believe Seve Ballesteros is 50. The golf images from his youth are so indelibly etched.
 
Life is like a dream, Ballesteros said earlier this week in Alabama where he will make his Champions Tour debut. You go to bed and you wake up with age. I dont know if thats a good translation, but we say that in Spain.
 
In one way it looks like its been many, many years. And on the other hand it looks like it was just yesterday when I joined the TOUR, you know? Time goes by very quickly for everybody. For everybody.
 
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