Pinehurst No. 2 presents unique U.S. Open test

By Rex HoggardJune 10, 2014, 8:17 pm

PINEHURST, N.C. – Bubba Watson compared the new and improved No. 2 course at Pinehurst to the rough-around-edges layout he grew up playing in Florida’s Panhandle. Chris Kirk figured the nip/tucked Donald Ross gem more resembled a linksland layout.

“Except around the greens,” Kirk hedged.

To be fair, most players walked off Pinehurst on Tuesday not exactly sure what that was.

The layout’s makeover is all at once sweeping and subtle.

From the tee, players at this week’s U.S. Open will be greeted with vastly different visuals since the last time the national championship was played here in North Carolina’s sandhills.

Ubiquitous native areas dotted with love grass have replaced the acres of thick rough that ringed the fairways in 2005 and 1999, and a particularly hot and dry spring has resulted in hard, firm fairways baked to a golden brown.

It is one of the most unique Open venues in modern history, which was exactly what Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore hoped to create when they were tasked with restoring the storied layout to Ross’ original condition in 2010.

Crenshaw, Coore and those pulling the strings at Pinehurst say Ross would be pleased with the result.

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As for the 156 players tasked with solving the Scot’s refurbished riddle, the jury is still out.

“Native areas – it's funny, me, Boo Weekley, Heath Slocum, we grew up at a golf course called Tanglewood in Milton, Fla.,” Watson said on Tuesday. “Looks like the same golf course I grew up on – a lot of pine trees, sand everywhere – we don't call it ‘natural area’ we call it … not very good conditions where I grew up. So I'm used to hitting out of sand and hardpan with, again, we call it weeds where I grew up.”

Whether the changes translate to a memorable Open remains to be seen, but the new-look layout has certainly left a mark on many in this week’s championship.

“I thought it was really cool how unique it was,” Kirk said. “They found a way to make it look completely different than any other course we play. Now, ask me again in six days and see if I still think it’s cool.”

Whatever one’s perspective – be it weeds or love grass, native areas or scrub, unique or overcooked – the essence and exam of Pinehurst remains the same. The turtlebacked greens remained virtually unchanged during the makeover and are still No. 2’s primary defense.

Those swales and hollows have been magnified by the dry conditions so far this week, but that could change with the forecast which calls for an increased chance for showers on Thursday.

But for two practice days it has been the perfect storm for the USGA and Pinehurst.

“It’s glassy and that’s what Pinehurst should be. It makes it that much more interesting and elusive,” Crenshaw said. “The international players really like it because I think it reminds them of maybe Australia a little bit, some of the British (Open) courses. It’s kind of a neat mix.”

But then one man’s pristine can easily turn into another’s punishment when the line is as thin as it will be this week, particularly with next week’s U.S. Women’s Open looming.

“Firm and dry,” one caddie said when asked about the course conditions. When pressed if he thought the layout was fair he figured, “So far . . . yes.”

It’s been some time since the USGA overcooked an Open venue, although some will contend last year’s championship at Merion was dangerously close.

But if player reaction is any indication the USGA won’t have to color too close to the lines to be sure Pinehurst maintains its tough-but-fair history (the combined winning score at the last two U.S. Opens played on No. 2 is 1 under par).

For Crenshaw, the Pinehurst project went well beyond the need for shock value. Ross’ original intent was to be unique, maybe even a little surprising if early player feedback is any indication. By comparison, reverting to the original plan was as easy as following directions.

That, however, doesn’t make this week any less stressful.

Late Tuesday afternoon Crenshaw was making his way down the practice tee under a sweltering sun when he was asked if he felt any apprehension coming into this week.

“Always,” he smiled. “You hope they find it interesting and it’s a good test for them and it’s something different than what they find on a regular basis. That’s what Pinehurst is anyway.”

So far it’s certainly proven to be a different U.S. Open venue.

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More sun, dry conditions expected early at Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 9:14 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – An atypically dry Scottish summer is expected to continue this week at The Open.

There’s a possibility of a few showers Thursday and Friday, but otherwise conditions are expected to remain dry with temperatures around 70 degrees and winds in the 15-20 mph range.

The forecast for the opening round at Carnoustie is sunshine with clouds developing later in the day. The high is expected to be around 70 degrees, with winds increasing throughout the day, maxing out at 18 mph.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

There’s a chance of rain overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, but it’s not expected to slow down the fiery conditions.

It’s been one of the driest summers in recent memory, leading to fairways that are baked out and fescue rough that is lighter and thinner than in previous years.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.