Thick Rough to Test Players at Pinehurst

By Associated PressJune 15, 2005, 4:00 pm
PINEHURST, N.C. -- Rory Sabbatini got the 105th U.S. Open underway Thursday when he knocked his drive down the middle on the first hole of what was shaping up as another dry, hot day at Pinehurst No. 2.
Tiger Woods had a 7:44 a.m. tee time as he starts he round on No. 10. Phil Mickelson was scheduled for 12:48 p.m. Defending champion Retief Goosen had a 7:55 a.m. tee time.
The conditions were making the players nervous as they approached the start of play. Agronomists call the grass Tifway II Bermuda. Those playing this week will probably refer to it in less formal terms.
The green, spongy rough is growing quite well this week, giving any shot that lands even an inch off the narrow fairways the prospect of becoming a major reclamation project.
'The longest first cut I've ever seen,' Fred Funk said of the areas just off the fairway. 'And the primary rough: It's chip-out rough.'
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods hits out of the rough during a practice round.
Before they chip out, though, they'll have to find the ball.
During practice Wednesday, shots that skittered into the thick stuff fell so far down into the grass, they couldnt be seen by people standing two paces away. So difficult were the conditions that marshals had to plant red flags at the spot where the balls were landing, lest the players lose track of their errant tee shots during their 250-yard walk to the next shot.
Last year, the U.S. Open turned into something of a debacle when Shinnecock Hills turned so windy and dry that not a single player could break par on Sunday.
Pinehurst has a much better reputation, based largely on a successful tournament in 1999. But much of that week was cool and cloudy. This week has seen temperatures steadily in the 90s with no rain, and another 90-degree day expected for the opening round.
If youre not careful, you can make bogeys on every hole with good shots, Vijay Singh said. Its very fair at the moment, but its very, very difficult. But it could get on the edge very quickly'if they dont watch it, its going to get over the edge in a heartbeat.
Singh wasnt alone among those showing concern about what promises to be a very difficult week. He was, however, among the very few who directly called out USGA officials in charge of setting up the U.S. Open venues.
I just want to know if they ever go out and play the golf course on Sunday to find out how difficult it is, Singh said. None of those guys are ever going to break 100, if they try, if they set it up like they did at the U.S. Open last year.
For the record, USGA championship committee chairman Walter Driver said he and president Fred Ridley would take that bet and that course superintendent Paul Jett is a very accomplished player, himself.
He knows exactly how a good player will play this golf course, Driver said. He sees it every day.
Of course, the rough is only part of what these players will face.
The upside-down greens are the other. Their humpbacked shapes make it easy for shots that look good to land and roll off. If the weather stays dry and the greens start turning brown, Funk expects more than a few players to experience more than a few embarrassing moments.
Youll see guys chip up hills and have the ball come back down to their feet, he said. Youll see a lot of people trying 8, 10, 12-foot putts for par. There will be very few putts out there where you can be on offense.
The tight fairways'slendered down to an average of about 22 yards across'could take some of the advantage away from huge hitters and put shorter sticks like Funk back into the equation.
Of course, the best are the best no matter what the conditions. Thats why Woods, Singh, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Goosen'the Big Five'have to be considered favorites.
I dont really care whos up there, as long as Im up there with them, said Jerry Kelly, a 10-year tour veteran who has never finished higher than 37th at the Open.
Almost certainly, the win will go to one of those who is among the most patient. Mickelson said he wouldnt be surprised if a score well over par wins this tournament. Nick Price, a longtime critic of the USGA, said you have to put your mind in neutral when you play a U.S. Open, and forget about par as the perfect benchmark.
The USGA officials insist they have no benchmark score in mind. After last year, its clear they just want a good tournament without so much griping. But the weather is hot. And just as azaleas and the Masters go hand in hand, complaining and the U.S. Open are pretty much always bedfellows come June.
Honestly speaking, I think this is the hardest U.S. golf course Ive played from tee to green and around the greens, Singh said. Its going to be one hell of a test.
Related links:
  • Full Field Scores - 105th U.S. Open
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

  • Tee Times - U.S. Open

  • Photo Gallery from Pinehurst

    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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    Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

    By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

    MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

    Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

    Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

    The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

    On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

    Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

    He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

    In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

    Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

    Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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    Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

    By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

    In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

    This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

    Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

    Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

    The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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    Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

    Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

    Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

    Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

    “There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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    Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

    By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

    Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

    Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

    “Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

    Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

    “Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

    Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.