The Open-Minded US Open

By Brian HewittJune 9, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenLA JOLLA, Calif. -- In case you hadnt noticed, this is not your grandfathers U.S. Open anymore.
 
The 108th edition of our national championship begins Thursday at a stunning and municipal golf course called Torrey Pines South in San Diego.
 
The USGA wont get bent out of shape if 10 under wins. The USGA has decided to set par for 18 holes at 71 instead of the usual and grueling par 70.
 
There will be a short par-3 and, probably, a drivable par-4. And the finger and footprints of a forward thinking course set-up guy named Mike Davis and a state-of-the-art superintendent named Mark Woodward will be all over the place.
 
Davis title is Senior Director of Rules and Competitions with the USGA. Woodwards is Manager of Golf Course Operations. But neither is much for standing on ceremony or sitting still for formalities.
 
To be sure, there are still monied, blue-blazered and even hidebound members of the USGAs executive committee. But the U.S. Open has transitioned quite nicely into the 21st century.
 
Overlay Davis and Woodwards expertise with the renovation work of Open Doctor Rees Jones; throw in a crisp weather forecast calling for highs in the low to mid-70s; and add the intrigue of a special Thursday-Friday grouping that includes Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and you have a monster golf buzz.
 
You also have elements that the true golf aficionado will appreciate. If you like to play golf and like to know why a golf course looks and plays the way it does, keep reading. What follows are five reasons why preparing a U.S. Open these days has evolved into a highly-sophisticated science practiced by people who appreciate golf courses as works of art.
 
Even your grandfather might be impressed.
 
THE GREENS:
Woodward supervised the conversion of the greens from a stand of bentgrass to a pure strain of poa annua. That, says Woodward, allows us to get the green speeds to the firmness that the USGA needs for this event.
 
Those speeds, says Davis, will be close to 13 on the Stimpmeter. That speed, Davis adds, is subject to change. What he means by that is that playability will be paramount. Too firm is no good. And Davis, in his third year as No. 1 set-up guy, will not be afraid to err on the side of caution.
 
THE FAIRWAYS AND ROUGHS:
The fairways will be 100 percent kikuyu grass which when cut to fairway length props the golf ball up quite nicely and rewards the accurate player off the tee. The process of bringing the fairways to pure kikuyu involved widespread use of an herbicide called Revolver which, when applied, kills every other kind of grass except kikuyu.
 
The roughs had to be overseeded with ryegrass to tame the tendency of kikuyu in June in San Diego to get too thick. Dont take this the wrong way, there will be U.S. Open rough at Torrey Pines. But there will be several different cuts depending on how far the player is off the fairway.
 
THE THIRD HOLE:
On at least two days, this downhill hole will play from a tee box, set on a bluff, at 142 yards. Davis says the prevailing wind will be into the players faces. Long and left are the ocean and a canyon, respectively. Yes, Davis, says, this hole will remind people of the short 7th hole at Pebble Beach. But several players have already commented that it will be difficult to stop a golf ball from the 195-yard teeing ground if the green is U.S. Open firm. If they put the pin front left, youll have 10 groups waiting on that tee box, says Pat Perez, who worked at Torrey Pines as a teenager and estimates hes played the course at least 250 times. This is one hole Davis will watch closely during the practice rounds. Similar to the first green at Winged Foot at the 2006 U.S. Open, the third at Torrey is a hole Davis will not hesitate to protect from unplayability with water and manageable hole locations. But dont be surprised if the third winds up being the most talked about hole on the golf course before the week ends.
 
THE 18TH HOLE:
Many assumed this reachable par-5 would be converted into a bearish par-4 when Torrey Pines received the 2008 U.S. Open. But Davis wanted it to play as a risk/reward par-5 and he was able to convince USGA executive committee member Jim Hyler that this was the way to go. You can count on the 18th being reachable in two shots for much of the field on Sunday. And you should not be surprised if somebody makes a birdie or even an eagle on the 72nd hole to win the championship. Dont count on your grandfather remembering that ever happening at a U.S. Open in his day. We want players to get out there and have a choice, says Davis. To sit back there saying, Am I going to fly the pond? Can I keep it on the green? .Those things are very appealing to us.
 
THE GOAL:
Transparency was never a watchword for the USGA in its history of preparing championship tracks. But transparency is imperative in American business these days. And Davis, with help from Hyler, has gently but persuasively brought the U.S. Open out into the open.
 
I can promise you this golf course could be set up significantly harder than what its going to be set up, Davis says. We got a fair number of calls right after the Buick (Invitational, played at Torrey Pines South last winter) when Tiger got 19 under, or whatever it was, saying are we nervous about Torrey Pines being too easy for the U.S. Open. I know Jim (Hyler) and I feel anything but that. Our fear, knowing what the kikuyu was going to be like, knowing what the firmness was going to be like, is that Torrey Pines, given the length of the golf course (it can be stretched to more than 7,600 yards), is one place that actually could become too tough. So keep that in mind.
 
Contrary to what a lot of people think, there is no target winning score, says Hyler, who also serves as the chairman of the USGA Championship Committee. We are not trying to protect par or produce over par final scores. We want the course to be set up rigorous, stern but fair. Then whatever the winning score turns out to be is what it turns out to be.
 
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    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

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    After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

    With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

    While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.

    Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

    Zach Johnson: 13/2

    Rory McIlroy: 7/1

    Jordan Spieth: 8/1

    Rickie Fowler: 9/1

    Kevin Kisner: 12/1

    Xander Schauffele: 16/1

    Tony Finau: 16/1

    Matt Kuchar: 18/1

    Pat Perez: 25/1

    Brooks Koepka: 25/1

    Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

    Alex Noren: 50/1

    Tiger Woods: 50/1

    Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

    Danny Willett: 60/1

    Francesco Molinari: 60/1