Another Massacre at Winged Foot

By Mercer BaggsJune 13, 2006, 4:00 pm
U.S. OpenMAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Retief Goosen was practicing his mid-range game Tuesday at Winged Foot, hitting balls from about 45 yards out off a practice fairway. He then moved over to his left, into the rough, where he hit a few more. He then moved over a little further left and the bottom half of his shoes disappeared. Another few steps over to the left, and grass completely covered the cuffs of his pants.
 
For the first time, the United States Golf Association is implementing a graduated rough at their National Championship.
 
Rocco Mediate
Rocco Mediate plays out from some of the gnarly rough at Winged Foot.
The concept is quite simple: The further you hit it off line, the worse the deal is, said Mike Davis.
 
Davis is the USGAs new set-up man for the U.S. Open, taking over for the retired and oft-criticized Tom Meeks. A couple of years ago, he suggested the idea to USGA Executive Director David Fay, and it took off from there.
 
Now, as Davis says, Were better fitting the punishment to the crime.
 
According to Davis, the fairways on Winged Foots West Course measure 22-28 yards wide. After that, there is a 6-foot swath of intermediate rough that measures about 1 inches long.
 
The next 20 feet out is called the first cut of primary rough, and stands about 3 inches tall. Our goal is to have this rough playable, but still penal, Davis said. We want to allow the players to show their skills.
 
After that, you have the second cut of primary rough. This is where it gets interesting, and where bad drives come to die -- or get lost. The gallery has even been pushed back an extra 15 yards to keep fans from trampling down the highest rough.
 
This measures about 6 to 8 inches, explained Davis. Youre going to get a lie where you just have to advance the ball, try to get it into the fairway. There is almost no chance to get the ball on the green (from this cut).
 
Defending champion Michael Campbell got a chance to play his first nine holes on the West Course Monday. Tuesday, he was simple and direct in his assessment of the rough.
 
What I saw yesterday was brutal, he said. Its probably a golfers nightmare this week, because you cant see the ball sometimes.
 
That, according to Davis, should only happen if you drive it well off line ' and if you do, then you deserve what you get.
 
You have about a 41-to-46-foot corridor to drive the ball and keep it in play, Davis said. That includes the fairway, the intermediate rough and the first cut of primary rough. Beyond that, you should have to pay the penalty.
 
He then added matter-of-factly, This is the U.S. Open.
 
It makes sense, said Chris DiMarco. If you miss the fairway by a yard, you shouldnt be more penalized than if you miss it by 20.
 
The rough isnt the only thing players have to concern themselves with this week. Theres also the matter of a par 70 playing to 7,264 yards. But even more so than distance, the biggest detraction to scoring may very well be the greens.
 
I think everyone is so wound up thinking about the rough, they do forget about the greens a little bit, said Luke Donald. They are quite slopey in places; I think the first few greens especially.
 
You really do have to think about where you want to position your second shot into the green, because the greens are that slopey, usually from back to front, which makes it tough. You cant be too aggressive out there.
 
These greens are some of the most severe greens youll ever face, said two-time U.S. Open winner Tiger Woods.
 
The last time a major championship on the regular tour was contested at Winged Foot, the 1997 PGA Championship, Davis Love III won in a runaway with an 11-under total. In 1984, the last time a U.S. Open was held here, Fuzzy Zoeller defeated Greg Norman in a playoff after both men tied at 4 under. And then there was 1974, known as the Massacre at Winged Foot, when Hale Irwin was crowned champion with a 7-over score.
 
As for predicting a winning number this time around, Davis believes that there are too many factors that could sway scores in either direction. The course is still on the wet side from an abundance of rain over the past few weeks ' and more rain is expected on Wednesday. Davis is hoping that the course will dry out by Friday so that players and fans will get a true sense of how it is supposed to play over the weekend.
 
I dont think youre going to have the so-called Massacre at Winged Foot, where players just walk off saying its impossible, Davis said. Could 7 over win? Yeah, maybe, if it got crusty and really windy. Maybe it could.
 
But black numbers, Davis says, are not the USGAs goal this week. And neither do they want anything resembling Shinnecock Sunday in 2004.
 
We tried to get the golf course set up in a way that its a very stern, rigorous test, but that its not so much so that they cant use their skills to play the game and to where good shots are penalized. We dont want that,' he said.
 
Phil Mickelson has spent the better part of nine days over the last month prepping his game for this layout. He said that he feels like he knows the course better than anyone outside of club member Andy Svoboda, who is also in the field, but that scoring is all relative to the conditions.
 
This golf course is set up for pristine conditions ' zero wind, 80 degrees and warm. And if they dont get it, this course will be almost unplayable, he said. The greens are going to be way too fast, the rough is going to be too thick, and the fairways are going to be too tight for anybody to sniff par if we get 15-, 20-mile-an-hour winds.
 
If were faced with that, everything changes, because were looking at ' I think (good) scores are going to be higher than 74.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open
  • Getty Images

    Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it

    By Nick MentaJune 18, 2018, 3:09 pm

    There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

    There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

    Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.

    The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."

    Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:

    If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

    “The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

    The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.

    Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).

    Getty Images

    Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in

    By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:34 pm

    There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.

    Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.

    While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.

    Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

    1. Brooks Koepka

    2. Dustin Johnson

    3. Patrick Reed

    4. Justin Thomas

    5. Jordan Spieth

    6. Rickie Fowler

    7. Bubba Watson

    8. Webb Simpson

    ---

    9. Bryson DeChambeau

    10. Phil Mickelson

    11. Matt Kuchar

    12. Brian Harman

    On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.

    Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:

    European Points

    1. Tyrrell Hatton

    2. Justin Rose

    3. Tommy Fleetwood

    4. Francesco Molinari

    ---

    5. Thorbjorn Olesen

    6. Ross Fisher

    World Points

    1. Jon Rahm

    2. Rory McIlroy

    3. Alex Noren

    4. Matthew Fitzpatrick

    ---

    5. Ian Poulter

    6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello

    @jenamsims on Instagram

    Koepka autographs local kids' 'Go Brooks' sign after win

    By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 2:30 pm

    Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open winner, but that doesn't mean he's now too big to go sign a couple pieces of cardboard in somebody's front yard in the middle of the night.

    Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, posted two pictures to her Instagram story on Sunday of "Go Brooks" signs she says were put up by some local kids in the area where Koepka was staying for the week.

    The first is dated prior to Koepka's final-round tee time.



    The second is from Sunday night.



    And here, separately, for no reason in particular (other than the fact that she posted it) is a video of Sims running over a parking cone at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

    Speaking of kids, just feels those two are gonna make it.

    Getty Images

    Koepka moves to No. 4 in world with U.S. Open win

    By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:05 pm

    After successfully defending his U.S. Open title, Brooks Koepka reached a new career high in the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Koepka held off Tommy Fleetwood to win by a shot Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, becoming the first player to go back-to-back in nearly 30 years. As a result, he jumped five spots in the latest rankings to No. 4, six spots higher than he reached with last year's U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills.

    Fleetwood finished alone in second place and moved up two spots to No. 10, tying his career-best placement. Patrick Reed moved up two spots to No. 11 by finishing fourth, while fifth-place Tony Finau went from No. 37 to No. 31.


    Updated Official World Golf Ranking


    It was a largely quiet week in the rankings despite the fact that a major championship was contested. Outside of Koepka and Finau, the only other player inside the top 50 to move up or down more than three spots was Jason Dufner, who went from 53rd to 48th with a T-25 finish.

    Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for the second consecutive week, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Jon Rahm dropped one spot to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Fleetwood rounding out the top 10. Hideki Matsuyama fell two spots to No. 12, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since October 2016.

    Despite a missed cut at Shinnecock, Tiger Woods actually moved up one spot to No. 79 in the latest rankings. He plans to play the Quicken Loans National and The Open in the coming weeks, which will be his final two chances to move into the top 50 in time to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The event is being held for the final time this summer at Firestone Country Club, where Woods has won eight times.