Trouble Brewing at Pinehurst?
By Torleif Sorenson on 6/11/14
If you watched the men's 2004 U.S. Open, you probably remember the proverbial bloodbath on Sunday. USGA officials let Shinnecock Hills get bone-dry to such a vicious extent that the average score in the final round was 78.72. Almost half of the 66 players shot 80 or worse — and nobody shot under par. Billy Mayfair, a thoroughly talented player, shot 89. After the first two groups played the 7th hole, the USGA finally decided to water the green.
This year at Pinehurst, the USGA has all sorts of tricks up their collective sleeve.
One of the USGA's nasty little tricks may turn out to be a repeat of the 7th at Shinnecock in 2004. Golfweek's Brad Klein reports that the USGA is keeping "a very close watch" on the 9th green. During the Open, the ninth is officially 191 yards, but the green is exceptionally small and has the most contour. USGA Executive Director Mike Davis said that they are considering moving up the tee-boxes on at least one of the four days, perhaps up to 145 yards away. What Davis may also need to do is order extra water to the green, just in case the forecasted thunderstorms do not materialize.
This is a par... ummm... a par-4. Really.Once again, the USGA is pulling the trick of "protecting par" by changing long holes into something they are not. This year, the 4th hole (529 yards) and 16th hole (528 yards) are designated par-4s, rather than the par-5s they were in 1999 and 2005.
If Davis and two gentlemen from Pinehurst (superintendent Kevin Robinson and director of grounds management Bob Farren) keep the "new old" Pinehurst under control, then the men may have a chance this week. And hopefully, the course will still be in decent shape for the U.S. Women's Open next week.
The other 'X factor' — weather
The latest National Weather Service forecast is for a 50% chance of thunderstorms on three of the four scheduled days. And while this means that Pinehurst's greens may be playable, the rest of the course could play extremely long, relegating golfers to automatic bogeys at the 4th and 16th holes.
And if thunderstorms hit on Sunday, the accompanying delays could conceivably stretch play into Monday. That would be a major inconvenience for the U.S. Women's Open, which begins just three days afterward on the same course.
And if the men's Open were to go to an 18-hole playoff, things could get even uglier for the women.
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