A Tale of Two Torreys Hall Ballot Out
And nobody will be watching more closely than Mike Davis, the USGAs chief course set-up guy. Thats because the Monday after the Buick Invitational ends is the first day Davis gets his hands, full time, on Torrey Pines South, the site of Junes U.S. Open.
Its pretty much going to be the same course next week as it will be for the U.S. Open as far as what people see. Davis told GOLF CHANNEL this week.
What people wont readily see on television, but the players will learn, is the firmness Davis means to insure for June. The greens typically run from 9 to 10 (on the Stimpmeter), Davis said. My guess is well be closer to 13. Thats a speed those greens have never been at before.
For the Buick Invitational, Torrey Pines South will play 7,568 yards to a par of 72. That yardage will be roughly the same for the U.S. Open but the USGA has converted the par-5 sixth to a long par 4 which will make for an 18-hole par of 71.
That hole had no sexiness as a par 5, Davis said of No. 6.
The 18th hole, a relatively short par 5, will remain a par 5 despite a lively debate among USGA officials. Course architect Rees Jones, who did the re-design at Torrey Pines, wanted No. 18 converted to a par 4. Davis wanted a par 5 so he could manipulate the tee box lengths on a daily basis to account for weather conditions and challenge the medium-to-long hitters to go for the green in two all four days.
TORREY RIGHT NOW:
Meanwhile, longtime Buick Invitational tournament director Tom Wilson says Torrey Pines South is in the best condition hes ever seen it.
He said (and Davis corroborated) the lengths of the roughs and the widths of the fairways will be similar to U.S. Open conditions. There was a lot of rain in the San Diego area last week so the course is expected to be relatively soft. And, Wilson added, the bunker conditions and the roughs around the greens will be much more benign next week than they will be in June.
During the wild fires that ravaged Southern California last fall, Wilson had to evacuate his Rancho Bernardo home for four days. In the interim he stayed at a hotel adjacent to Torrey Pines. The golf course suffered no damage, in part, because of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean.
Many of Wilsons Rancho Bernardo neighbors werent so lucky. It was pretty devastating, he said. And we were pretty blessed. Approximately 150 homes in Wilsons neighborhood burned to the ground. His house escaped relatively unscathed.
KINDLER, GENTLER U.S. OPEN?:
One of the things Davis did during the holidays was break out the tapes and watch every minute of all four days of the television broadcasts of last years U.S. Open at Oakmont.
One thing I just dont think we got right was the first cut of the primary rough, he said. It was just too penal.
That will change at Torrey Pines. The winning score at each of the last two U.S. Opens was 5 over par. Davis told me he has no problem if 10 under is the winning score in June.
The 2008 PGA TOUR ballot for the World Golf Hall of Fame landed on my doorstep Wednesday. This years list comprises 17 names compared to 20 last year.
Curtis Strange and Hubert Green moved off the list and into the Hall. John Daly dropped off the list because he failed to appear on at least 5 percent of the ballots for two straight years.
The most likely candidate to graduate into the Hall off of this years list is Lanny Wadkins. Wadkins name showed up on 50 percent of the ballots last year. The magic number for getting in is 65 percent. Wadkins figures to benefit this year from not having to compete with voters who preferred Strange, his contemporary, last year.
Wadkins won 21 times on the PGA TOUR, including the 1977 PGA Championship and the 1979 PLAYERS.
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Kang on cheating allegation: 'I did the right thing'
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three weeks after his playing partner claimed that he “cheated” while taking an improper drop at the Quicken Loans National, Sung Kang insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong.
Joel Dahmen tweeted that Kang cheated after a lengthy dispute about where his ball had last crossed the line of a hazard. A PGA Tour official ruled in Kang’s favor, he made par on the hole, shot 64 and earned one of the available spots in the Open Championship.
Kang didn’t learn of the controversy until the next day, when he received an email from a PGA Tour communications official seeking comment. He researched online what the furor was about, then issued a brief statement through the Tour (which added its own statement, saying that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Kang dropped incorrectly).
Kang said he tried to clear the air with Dahmen before the first round of last week’s John Deere Classic, but they never had the opportunity to discuss their differences.
“I followed the rules official and I think I did the right thing,” Kang told a handful of reporters Thursday following his opening round at Carnoustie, where he shot a 2-under 69 to sit three shots off the early lead.
Kang said he was hesitant to discuss the incident with reporters, because he said there clearly was a difference in opinions. He said he’d already told his side to South Korean news outlets but that “whatever I say, some people are going to trust it and some people are not going to trust it. Then I’ve got to think about it more and more when it’s not going to help my golf game.”
“I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened,” he added, “but I’m not going to say anything.”
Kang said that he wouldn’t alter his approach when dealing with rulings in the future.
“No. Why?” he said. “I did the right thing. There’s no point in changing.”
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.
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Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.
Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.
“We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.
To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.
“I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”
Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.
“Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”
The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.
“We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.
Van Rooyen continues links run with impressive 67
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For Erik van Rooyen familiarity has not bred contempt.
The South African, like many European Tour players, has been on a links golf odyssey the last three weeks, playing the Irish Open, Scottish Open and this week’s Open Championship in consecutive weeks, and the crash course paid off on Day 1 at Carnoustie when he opened with a 4-under 67 to assure himself a spot among the early leaders.
Although van Rooyen missed the cut last week just down the coast at Gullane Golf Club, he entered the final round in Ireland with a four-stroke lead.
“I didn't pull it off the final day,” said van Rooyen, who closed with a 74 to tie for fourth place. “I still think I played pretty well. I was nervous. That's completely normal, and I'll learn how to deal with that. I'll take that experience into tournaments like this.”
Van Rooyen, who was alone in second place when he completed his round, began his round with back-to-back birdies and was bogey-free until the last hole. It was just what one would expect from a player who has immersed himself in links golf for the better part of a month.
“We've been playing nice golf now the last three weeks, so definitely used to the way this course is playing, definitely used to handling the wind,” he said. “So I'll be ready.”