US Open QA - A Quick 6

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 14, 2005, 4:00 pm
With U.S. Open Week in full swing we asked The Golf Channel's Peter Oosterhuis and Frank Nobilo to take time away from their Sprint Post Game duties to answer a few questions on the field and the course.
1. Which player in the Top 10 has the game best suited to win at Pinehurst No.2?
Peter Oosterhuis:
Every one of the Top 10 has a pretty good all-around game, they all have sufficient power and great short games. To separate one player from the group, I think you have to go to the mental side. Tiger Woods' absolute focus and determination separates him from the others when it comes to winning a major.
Frank Nobilo:
Tiger Woods. Imaginative short game. Played well here in 99, which made him believe he had the game to win a U.S. Open while others thought he would not be able to rein his game in on the more stringent test of the four majors. Went on to win in Pebble the following year due to Pinehurst. If the setup is similar to 99, he will be the player to beat.
2. Who is your dark horse pick to win this week?
Peter Oosterhuis:
Not really a dark horse but often overlooked - Jim Furyk. Also great focus and determination, seems fully recovered from 2004 surgery.
Frank Nobilo:
Not so much of a dark horse, but a player who was sidelined due to wrist surgery. Not a lot of people have talked about Jim Furyk ,even though he has played extremely well of late. Tiger's won two U.S. Opens, Els two U.S. Opens, Goosen two U.S. Opens - so why not Furyk?
3. Which player has the best chance to end Europes 35-year win drought at the U.S. Open?
Peter Oosterhuis:
Luke Donald, the Englishman who went to Northwestern - cool customer, T3 at the Masters.
Frank Nobilo:
Padraig Harrington. Broke the drought over here finally at Honda, so he has nothing else to prove. The monkey is now off his back and he has a tremendous game for a Pinehurst-style U.S. Open that has chipping areas and demands quality iron play and a very patient head.
4. Which is you favorite course in the U.S. Open rotation?
Peter Oosterhuis:
Tough question! Pebble Beach is my choice. What a beautiful setting! Memories of Nicklaus in 1972, his great 1-iron shot at 17. Watson chipping in at 17 in 1982. Tiger demolishing the field in record fashion in 2000. Pinehurst No. 2 is not far behind and Shinnecock is awesome, what a pity about the set-up last year.
Frank Nobilo:
Shinnecock Hills. Even though they made a mess of it last year, it is still the premier Open venue. Set up correctly, it has a phenomenal back nine that makes the champion earn his spot in history.
5. What is the best playoff format for deciding a major championship?
Peter Oosterhuis:
Definitely NOT 18 holes on Monday, bogus for everyone, players, spectators, television-watchers and media! Perhaps the multiple holes of The Open or the PGA Championship, but that can be anti-climatic. I take sudden-death. You've just had a chance to win at the 18th hole, now you have another go at the same hole. Worked at the Masters this year, let the fans stay in place for the first hole at least!
Frank Nobilo:
Eighteen-hole playoff is the fairest way to determine a winner. 72 holes is used to separate a winner from the field. If contestants cannot be separated after 72, then they need 18 holes - which in turn becomes a form of match play to determine the better champion.
6. What is your most memorable U.S. Open moment?
Peter Oosterhuis:
Unfortunately not too many great U.S. Open moments for me! Some memories:. My first U.S. Open was at Medinah, in Chicago, in 1975. First hole, pulled my tee-shot on the medium-length par 4, stroll up there, my ball has stayed up in a tree about 10 feet off the ground! Welcome to the U.S. Open, kid! Took a drop, 8-iron on the green, 30-footer for a par! Went on to be tied for the lead with nine holes to play in the championship, didn't know it because there were no leaderboards out at the far end of the course! Playing with Ben Crenshaw, we both let a winning opportunity slip away, I shot 39 on the back and he went in the water at the par- 3 17th. (Different hole from the 1999 PGA Championship where Tiger made a decisive putt on the way to beating Sergio.) Unbelievable lightning strike in the trees behind 17 as we were on the tee. Same year that Trevino, Bobby Nichols and Jerry Heard were hit at the Western Open, also in Chicago!
Frank Nobilo:
My best U.S. Open memory was Sunday in 1994 playing in the last group of a major championship with the eventual winner Ernie Els. That is when I felt I could compete with the best players in the world on the highest stage.
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

  • Tee Times - U.S. Open

  • Photo Gallery from Pinehurst
  • Getty Images

    Lopez fires flawless 63 for lead in Arkansas

    By Associated PressJune 23, 2018, 12:41 am

    ROGERS, Ark. – Former Arkansas star Gaby Lopez shot a career-low 8-under 63 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship.

    Lopez, a three-time All-American for the Razorbacks, matched her career best by finishing at 8 under - doing so after missing the cut in her last two tournaments. The Mexican player began the tournament at Pinnacle Country Club ranked 136th in the world but finished just two shots off the course record of 10 under in her third year on the LPGA Tour.

    Moriya Jutanugarn was a stroke back along with Minjee Lee, Catriona Matthew, Nasa Hataoka, Lizette Salas, Mirim Lee and Aditi Ashok.

    Local favorite Stacy Lewis, expecting her first child in early November, had a 66.

    Defending champion So Yeon Ryu, coming off a victory Sunday in Michigan, shot a 67.

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    Harman rides hot putter to Travelers lead

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:28 am

    CROMWELL, Conn. – There are plenty of big names gathered for the Travelers Championship, and through two rounds they’re all chasing Brian Harman.

    Harman opened with a 6-under 64, then carded a 66 during Friday’s morning wave to become the only player to finish the first two rounds in double digits under par. The southpaw is currently riding a hot putter, leading the field in strokes gained: putting while rolling in 12 birdies and an eagle through his first 36 holes.

    “Putted great today,” said Harman, who ranks 22nd on Tour this season in putting. “Got out of position a couple of times, but I was able to get myself good looks at it. I started hitting the ball really well coming down the stretch and made a few birdies.”

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Harman, 31, has won twice on the PGA Tour, most recently at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship. While he doesn’t have a win this year, he started his season in the fall by reeling off five straight finishes of T-8 or better to quickly install himself as one of the leaders in the season-long points race.

    Now topping a leaderboard that includes the likes of Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy, he realizes that he’ll have his work cut out for him if he’s going to leave Connecticut with trophy No. 3.

    “The putter has been really good so far, but I’ve been in position a lot. I’ve had a lot of good looks at it,” Harman said. “I’m just able to put a little pressure on the course right now, which is nice.”

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    10-second rule costs Zach Johnson a stroke

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:06 am

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Zach Johnson heads into the weekend one shot back at the Travelers Championship, but he was a matter of seconds away from being tied for the lead.

    Johnson had an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 3 at TPC River Highlands, his 12th hole of the day, but left the ball hanging on the lip. As Johnson walked up to tap the ball in, it oscillated on the edge and eventually fell in without being hit.

    Was it a birdie, or a par?

    According to the Rules of Golf, and much to Johnson’s chagrin, the answer was a par. Players are afforded “reasonable” time to walk to the hole, and after that they are allowed to wait for 10 seconds to see if the ball drops of its own accord. After that, it either becomes holed by a player’s stroke, or falls in and leads to a one-shot penalty, resulting in the same score as if the player had hit it.

    According to Mark Russell, PGA Tour vice president of rules and competitions, Johnson’s wait time until the ball fell in was between 16 and 18 seconds.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “Once he putts the ball, he’s got a reasonable amount of time to reach the hole,” Russell said. “Then once he reaches the hole, he’s got 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, the ball is deemed to be at rest.”

    Johnson tried to emphasize the fact that the ball was oscillating as he stood over it, and even asked rules officials if marking his ball on the edge of the hole would have yielded a “bonus 10 seconds.” But after signing for a 2-under 68 that brought him within a shot of leader Brian Harman, the veteran took the ruling in stride.

    “The 10-second rule has always been there. Vague to some degree,” Johnson said. “The bottom line is I went to tap it in after 10 seconds and the ball was moving. At that point, even if the ball is moving, it’s deemed to be at rest because it’s on the lip. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just the way it is.”

    While Johnson brushed off any thoughts of the golf gods conspiring against him on the lip, he was beaming with pride about an unconventional par he made on No. 17 en route to a bogey-free round. Johnson sailed his tee shot well right into the water, but after consulting his options he decided to drop on the far side of the hazard near the 16th tee box.

    His subsequent approach from 234 yards rolled to within 8 feet, and he calmly drained the putt for an unexpected save.

    “I got a great lie. Just opened up a 4-hybrid, and it started over the grandstands and drew in there,” Johnson said. “That’s as good of an up-and-down as I’ve witnessed, or performed.”

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    Travelers becoming marquee event for star players

    By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 11:29 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Get lost in the throngs following the defending champ, or caught up amongst the crowds chasing the back-to-back U.S. Open winner, and it’s easy to forget where this tournament was a little more than a decade ago.

    The Travelers Championship was without a sponsor, without a worthwhile field, without a consistent date and on the verge of being jettisoned to the PGA Tour Champions schedule. The glory days of the old Greater Hartford Open had come and gone, and the PGA Tour’s ever-increasing machine appeared poised to leave little old Cromwell in its wake.

    The civic pride is booming in this neck of the woods. Main Street is lined with one small business after the next, and this time of year there are signs and posters popping up on every corner congratulating a member of the most recent graduating class at Cromwell High School, which sits less than two miles from the first tee at TPC River Highlands.

    Having made it through a harrowing time in the event’s history, the local residents now have plenty of reason to take pride.

    The Tour’s best have found this little New England hamlet, where tournament officials roll out the red carpet in every direction. They embrace the opportunity to decompress after the mind-numbing gauntlet the USGA set out for them last week, and they relish a return to a course where well-struck shots, more often than not, lead to birdies.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Ten years ago, this tournament was also held the week after the U.S. Open. Stewart Cink won, and for his efforts he received a paltry 36 world ranking points. But thanks to a recent influx of star-power, this week’s winner will pocket 58 points – the same amount Rory McIlroy won at Bay Hill, and two more than Justin Rose got at Colonial. Now at the halfway point, the leaderboard backs up the hefty allocation.

    While Brian Harman leads at 10 under, the chase pack is strong enough to strike fear in the heart of even the most seasoned veteran: McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson, they of the combined eight major titles, all sit within three shots of the lead. Former world No. 1 Jason Day is one shot further back, and reigning Player of the Year Justin Thomas will start the third round inside the top 20.

    Paul Casey and Bryson DeChambeau, both likely participants at the Ryder Cup this fall, are right there as well at 8 under. Casey lost a playoff here to Watson in 2015 and has come back every year since, witnessing first-hand the tournament’s growth in scope.

    “It speaks volumes for what Travelers have done and how they treat everybody, and the work that Andy Bessette and his team put in to fly around the country and speak highly of this event,” Casey said. “And do things which matter, to continue to improve the event, not just for players but for spectators.”

    Part of the increased field strength can be attributed to the Tour’s recent rule change, requiring players who play fewer than 25 events in a season to add a new event they haven’t played in the last four years. Another portion can be attributed to the short commute from Shinnecock Hills to TPC River Highlands, a three-hour drive and even shorter across the Long Island Sound – an added bonus the event will lose two of the next three years with West Coast U.S. Opens.

    But there’s no denying the widespread appeal of an event named the Tour’s tournament of the year, players’ choice and most fan-friendly in 2017. While Spieth’s return to defend his title was assumed, both Day and McIlroy are back for another crack this year after liking what they saw.

    “Anyone that I talked to could only say good things about the tournament about the golf course, how the guys are treated here, how the fans come out, and how the community always gets behind this event,” McIlroy said. “Obviously I witnessed that for the first time last year, and I really enjoyed it.”

    After starting the week with all four reigning major champs and five of the top 10 players in the latest world rankings, only Masters champ Patrick Reed got sent packing following rounds of 72-67. The remaining top-flight contingent will all hit the ground running in search of more low scores Saturday, with Spieth (-4) still retaining a glimmer of hope to keep his title defense chances alive, perhaps with a 63 like he fired in the opening round.

    The Tour’s schedule represents a zero-sum game. Outside of the majors and WGCs that essentially become must-play events for the game’s best, the rest of the legs of the weekly circus become victim of a 12-month version of tug-of-war. Some players like to play in the spring; others load up in the fall. Many play the week before majors, while a select group block off the week after for some R&R far away from a golf course.

    But in an environment where one tournament’s ebbs can create flows for another, the Travelers has continued a steady climb up the Tour’s hierarchy. Once in jeopardy of relegation, it has found its footing and appears in the process of turning several of the Tour’s one-name stars into regular participants.

    Rory. Jordan. Bubba. JT.

    It’s been a long battle for tournament officials, but the proof is in the pudding. And this weekend, the reward for the people of Cromwell – population 14,000 – looks to be a star-studded show.

    “All the events are incredible,” Thomas said. “But this is kind of one of those underrated ones that I think until people come and play, do they realize how great it is.”