A Walk and an Analysis of Dreaded Oakmont

By Associated PressJune 13, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- A squirrel ran onto the ninth green at Oakmont, looked around in confusion at the 10 U.S. Open golfers practicing their putting and tried to escape. He ran this way, then another, but still couldn't find a way out or a tree to climb.
 
By the midpoint of Thursday's opening round, more than a few in the U.S. Open field may feel the same way. Almost 5,000 trees are gone, but the toughness remains, with no place to hide from the troubles that await on every hole and, specifically, every green.
 
U.S. Open Practice Schedule
Fans figure out the practice schedule Wednesday at Oakmont. (Getty Images)
That was evident Wednesday during an 18-hole walk of Oakmont, where the only person who looked relaxed was a fan who found a shaded area near the No. 17 fairway, took off his shoes, used them for a pillow and took a nap. About 30 feet away, Phil Mickelson hit an approach shot during a practice round limited to 10 holes because of his sore left wrist.
 
No. 1, 482 yards, par 4: Tiger Woods calls this the toughest opening hole in American golf, but he didn't play it Wednesday, working only at the driving range and practice green. Maybe he feels ready enough -- or maybe it was the tobacco smoke. While many sports arenas, stadiums and ballparks, including Pittsburgh's PNC Park, ban smoking, it's allowed at an outdoor venue such as Oakmont. Five smokers were taking advantage by puffing away at a concession stand alongside the No. 1 fairway, irritating others waiting in line for a drink.
 
No. 2, 341 yards, par 4: At the 1994 Open, fans waited up to 20 minutes to traverse the lone spectator bridge that crosses the Pennsylvania Turnpike and connects holes 2-7 with the rest of the course. A second bridge was built for this Open, but only the golfers, caddies and tournament personnel can use it. Fans moving from No. 1 to No. 2 must wait to cross the No. 9 fairway to reach the spectator bridge then, on the other side, encounter a second delay getting to No. 2 as they wait for traffic to clear from the new bridge. The result? The same wait as before in some cases.
 
No. 3, 428 yards, par 4: The first hole where the half-acre Church Pews bunker comes into play, though it is more of a hazard for golfers who hook their drives on No. 4. Woods declined to practice hitting out of the bunker, saying, 'I don't really think that you should be practicing negativity.' On the green, longtime pro Bob Murphy, now an NBC announcer, took numerous practice putts alongside Brett Quigley.
 
No. 4, 609 yards, par 5: The first of two 600-yard-plus holes. As Quigley walks the fairway, one of the estimated 25,000 spectators asks why so few are practicing, making for little activity for long stretches at many holes. He replied, 'A lot of guys are just playing nine today.'
 
No. 5, 382 yards, par 4: With so little shade, fans are crowding to sit under a covered picnic table not far from a large concession stand. There's no other such respite on the course.
 
No. 6, 194 yards, par 3: There's never been a hole in one in competition here.
 
No. 7, 479 yards, par 4: The field can only hope a late-afternoon thunderstorm Wednesday softens up the green on a hole that has been lengthened by 51 yards, creating a blind and very difficult second shot.
 
No. 8, 252/288 yards, par 3: Yes, it's a par 3 -- and it may play longer for the final round Sunday, according to the USGA's Jim Hyler. One of the players told Hyler, 'You could have a long drive and a closest-to-the-hole contest on the same hole.'
 
No. 9, 477 yards, par 4: Might be the only green in U.S. Open history where 30 golfers putt at the same time. Oakmont is unique in that the huge No. 9 green doubles as the practice green. USGA rules state there can be no practicing on a tournament green during competition. To police that, the USGA put down a blue line to differentiate between playing and practice areas. The penalty for violation: disqualification.
 
No. 10, 435/462 yards, par 4: As Mickelson begins his practice round, he is apologetic in declining autograph requests, blaming his inflamed left wrist. 'I'm sorry,' he said. 'Another week or so.'
 
No. 11, 379 yards, par 4: A blind, uphill tee shot to a tiny green. No wonder Mickelson spent so much time practicing there.
 
No. 12, 632/667 yards, par 5: The hole is so long, it runs nearly from the clubhouse to the Pennsylvania Turnpike -- long enough to charge a toll. 'It's the epitome of a par 5,' said Masters champion Zach Johnson. In the 2003 U.S. Amateur, Trip Kuehne -- who is in the U.S. Open field -- reached in two with a 6-iron.
 
No. 13, 183 yards, par 3: Four deep bunkers guard a green with a serious tilt. Get above the hole and ...
 
No. 14, 358 yards, par 4: Johnny Miller missed a 10-foot birdie putt here on his final round in 1973, or else that famous 63 would have been a more famous 62.
 
No. 15: 500 yards, par 4: The Oakmont Country Club members tent runs alongside the fairway. As they watched the practice rounds, some members said the course's setup isn't nearly as difficult as it is for some member events. Among those members: Arnold Palmer. There's another Church Pews bunker here, too.
 
No. 16, 231 yards, par 3: Probably the favorite hole of Richard Lee. He's 16, just like the hole, the youngest player in the 156-man field and second-youngest ever in an Open. Not that it's bothering him. 'I'm not nervous at all,' he said.
 
No. 17, 313 yards, par 4: Woods still doesn't know how it will play because of high rough on the left and the tilted green. 'It's a hole that going to be probably pivotal and very key to who wins the championship,' he said. By then, perhaps the sleeping man alongside the fairway will wake up.
 
No. 18, 484 yards, par 4: Palmer's long walk up No. 18 in 1994, during his last U.S. Open round, is still remembered for the thunderous ovation he received. 'The tough part was walking up 18,' Palmer said. 'It was overwhelming.'
 
No. 19: Woods calls this his favorite hole. It must be -- he spent considerable time signing autographs after a 45-minute stop on the practice green, something he doesn't always do.
 
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    'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

    By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

    “The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

    Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

    Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

    A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

    "Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told GolfChannel.com in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

    Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

    He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement when the game was announced in May.

    Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

    “It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

    "The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

    In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Web.com Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

    “I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

    The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

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    Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

    Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

    Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

    “Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

    The problem was an expired visa.

    Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

    No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

    His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

    One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

    His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

    “Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

    He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

    “It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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    'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

    Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

    “The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

    The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

    “That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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    Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

    “They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

    “The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”