USGA agronomist Tim Moraghan, course set-up guy Mike Davis and designer Rees Jones are on site at Torrey Pines South this week conducting a site inspection in advance of next years U.S. Open. After that, Davis and Moraghan will head to Pine Needles.
Annika Sorenstam is the defending champion of the event and she won the Womens Open in 1996 when it was first played at Pine Needles. Karrie Webb won the Womens Open at Pine Needles in 2001 and will also be among the favorites.
Davis said one of the big stories there next week will be the re-design at Pine Needles engineered by former U.S. Amateur champion John Fought.
Fought lengthened the course and attempted to restore many of the features built in by original designer Donald Ross. This year the women will play Pine Needles at 6,600 yards to a par of 71. When Webb won, it played at 6,200 to a par of 70.
The biggest change is the return of the 15th hole to a par-5. The golf course will more closely resemble Pinehurst No. 2 with the closely mown areas surrounding the greens, Davis said.
The grasses will also be different. Both previous Womens Opens there were played on overseeded ryegrass in May. This year the late June dates dictate a return to Bermudagrass. Even though it might not look as pretty on TV, Davis said. It will play much better.
PGA TOUR rookie Anthony Kim, whose 67 was the low round Sunday at Oakmont, has played at Torrey Pines South enough to know the green speeds there wont be anything close to what they were at Oakmont last week.
If Oakmonts green speeds were a 10 on a one to 10 scale, Kim was asked, how fast can they get them, on that same scale, at Torrey Pines South? No more than six or seven, he said.
Kim grew up in Southern California and has played Torrey Pines South on numerous occasions.
Northern Irelands Darren Clarke, returns to the PGA TOUR this week in Hartford after not having played in the States since THE PLAYERS.
He has been struggling mightily on and off the golf course. Hes sad, is the way his agent, Chubby Chandler, put it.
Clarkes wife, Heather, passed away last August at the age of 39 after a long battle with cancer. Clarke returned to play a key role in Europes September Ryder Cup victory over the U.S. in Ireland. But, said a source close to Clarke, the loss of his wife and being part of the fight has finally caught up to him.
Clarke has missed the cut in his last five starts on the European Tour. In the U.S. he has two missed cuts and two WDs in his last four starts.
ANGEL WINGS IT:
While many of the players in the field at last weeks U.S. Open tinkered with their equipment in an attempt to adjust to Oakmonts trying conditions, Cabrera, the eventual winner, l stayed put.
Sources at PING say he experimented with a 5-wood early in the week but stayed with his normal compliment of 14 clubs that includes a PING driver and 3-wood, PING irons, a Nickent hybrid and Titleist Vokey wedges.
The only work the guys in the PING truck did for Cabrera was to re-grip his clubs before the championship began.
Five players'Tiger Woods, Jerry Kelly, Justin Rose, David Toms and Paul Casey'have top-10s in both majors so far in 2007. Interesting to note that none of those five have won a major this year.
In 2006 nobody top-tenned in all four majors. Woods was the only one with three.
Players with two top-10s in majors last year were Woods, Cabrera, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Steve Stricker and Mike Weir.
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