If the golfers don’t need a day of rest, the greens surely do.
TOM MORRIS on closing the Old Course every Sunday
We've started with very sunny skies and a light breeze. As we discussed on Morning Drive, look for the greens to bake out a little sooner. The 18th is back to a par-5 (mercifully), but the 15th is at the regrettable 243 tee (look out).
Fox Sports has the coverage all day with multiple streaming options at USOpen.com.
If some of Fox's new bells and whistles are your thing, you are more likely to find them there and also get to revel in the ramblings of Buddy Marucci! But do note their hole flyover graphics, which are now the industry standard in accuracy, beauty and in revealing green contours.
Though not on the level of the UK's best papers, the U.S. Open often brings out the best in local television and print coverage.
But as modern media changes and newspapers become less viable, the "special section" has become almost extinct. Yet this week's coverage from the Seattle Times and Tacoma's News Tribune has been over-the-top good, with full daily coverage and fun extras like "Seattle Sketcher" Gabriel Campanario.
Campanario's work from the week here will resonate with anyone who has been on site.
Gary Player appeared on Morning Drive and before the legend could be asked a question, he unleashed a rant for the ages on how Chambers Bay is emblematic of a sport that refuses to do anything about a distance chase bifurcating the game, driving up costs and driving down fun.
Granted, the 50th anniversary marking of his Grand Slam-clinching-U.S. Open win is an awkward way to do it, but what Player says is accurate and timely: this is what happens when architects (and developers) have to build for a game that has not regulated equipment closely enough to keep distance from overtaking skill.
He calls the design here a "tragedy," "devastating" and points out that this is not a model for public golf. Considering the severe terrain used here instead of the more traditional ground that could have been used, and he's not incorrect.
And this zinger towards Robert Trent Jones Jr.:
The man who designed this golf course had to have one leg shorter than the other.
There is good news, however: the players who oppose a ball or distance rollback (overwhelmingly), are made to suffer. So there is that.
Ed Sherman writing for Poynter considers the sad state of affairs at the once-mighty Dallas Morning News, where sending a reporter to cover hometown golfing hero Jordan Spieth is an on-going issue.
The Morning News, though, wasn’t at the Masters in April when the 21-year-old Spieth donned the green jacket with a stunning performance. Leavell says he considered sending a reporter to Augusta during the weekend after Spieth jumped out to an early lead. However, the cost was prohibitive for a full-priced airfare.
Leavell went with Plan B to chronicle Spieth’s historic victory. Nichols wrote a 1-A story based on watching the tournament on TV with members at Spieth’s Dallas club. Kevin Sherrington and Barry Horn contributed columns. Leavell also hired former Washington Post golf writer, Len Shapiro, to file a story from Augusta. Add a picture page, and the Morning News had 17 columns dedicated to Spieth.
Nichols is covering the U.S. Open this week for the News. Here's his story on Spieth's second round. Click on it so we can help pay for his airfaire.
Scary stuff today at Chambers Bay as Jason Day suffered a bout with vertigo while walking down the 9th hole's steep hill.
Three-under-par at the time, Day managed to bogey the hole and sign his card.
Brian Wacker at PGATour.com with the latest on Day's condition as he sits in the top 10 and in his motor home parked on site here.
Day was treated at Chambers Bay, where he is staying for the week with his family, by Dr. Robert Stoecker and Dr. Charles Souliere and is resting comfortably, according to a statement from his agent.
"His condition is being monitored closely and he is hopeful he will be able to compete this weekend in the final rounds of the U.S. Open," the statement said in part. "He wants to thank all who treated him at the Franciscan Medical Group and thank all of the fans and friends who have reached out to he and his family.”
The scary moment put Fox Sports very much on the spot and they passed their first big broadcasting test with flying colors, handling the scary situation with the right tone. Though I'm not sure Greg Norman leaving the booth to go use his connections to chat with Day while under duress was the Woodward and Bernstein moment John Strege says it was, they handled it to perfection. Though not having an on-staff reporter possibly hurt their ability to shed light on Day's recent issues or his condition.
Fox Sports has posted video of the scary moment.
Fox Sports sound gurus picked up some terrific sound of Jordan Spieth offering his thoughts on the 18th hole, shortened to play as a par-4 in round two of the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
While it might have sounded like a little of the Jordan that rubbed some the wrong way last year, Dave Kindred suggests that Spieth has become endearing even in his less positive moments.
Then he got after it: "I think the hole doesn't make sense because you can hit it down the left center of the fairway and still end up in the right bunker in trouble. There's a group of about 10, 12 guys that can fly it 310 yard that have an entirely different hole to play there. For anybody else, you have to hit in a five- or six-yard area. And if it's going to be a par 4 (it's sometimes played as a par 5) and you're going to bring that other bunker into play, I think the tee should have been moved up more. . . . I just didn't know where I could hit that tee shot. . . . I wasn't going to hit a 3-iron off the tee and then hit 3-wood. . . . So all in all, I thought it was dumb hole today."
The hole doesn't make much sense as a par-4, both in the landing area dynamic and in the green, which works better for a par-5 approach. Here's hoping it reverts to par-5 status for the weekend.
Lee Westwood also tweeted his views.
This highlight reel of Spieth's finish shows him bungling the hole, but does not include his less than positive architecture analysis.
**Here's the 18th hole fun with audio at FoxSports.com, with a tip of the cap to the sound team for a job well done.
It took a while but we finally got a nice hole-out and huge crowd reaction at the wild 10th hole, with its green sandwiched in between the dunes.
The video of Chris Kirk's hole-out:
Darren Rovell looks at Tiger's missed cut tendencies and where that leaves retailers stocking Nike gear centered around majors. Most interesting is how retailers were left out in the cold by Tiger sticking with his nurse shoes, just how much gear people buy based on seeing it worn at a major, and how well Under Armour is doing with Jordan Spieth.
Nike doesn't yet have a line for Rory McIlroy, but most expect that will be the case. In the meantime, Under Armour -- which sponsors Masters winner Justin Spieth from head to toe -- is making up huge ground.
"We can't keep his stuff in stock," Baker said. "Under Armour did decent before Spieth, but once he won the Masters, it was lock-the-doors good."
Under Armour officials won't give out specific numbers, but a spokesperson did tell ESPN.com that golf sales on the company's website have increased more than 100 percent since the Masters.
As for Tiger's 80-76 performance, Rex Hoggard writes:
Regardless of what you may think of Como and his philosophies, with opinions ranging from confusion to outright contempt, the tandem are now just a half dozen PGA Tour starts into the experiment and it’s a tad early in the process to start cleaning house.
But what is just as clear is there is no sign Woods has bottomed out, which many believed was the case when he went around Muirfield Village earlier this month in 85 strokes.
Former Tiger instructor Butch Harmon tells the Press Association's Phil Casey that watching Tiger shoot 80 at Chambers Bay is like going to Wimbledon and watching Roger Federer struggle to clear the net.
"It's kind of sad to be honest with you. I am not sure any of us has the answer. He looks like a lost soul out there. We hope he would go home and take some time off and don't come back until you are 100 per cent ready to play.
"He is not playing a lot of tournaments and the ones he turns up to play are the biggest ones that present the biggest challenge. If you are not ready it's going to find you out."
Dave Kindred on Tiger's game:
It must feel as if someone else did it in what was once his body. Once the lord of all he surveyed, Woods now is forlorn. Once triumphant, winner of 14 majors. Now, defeated.
An excellent start over a very long day on Fox Sports no doubt learning to love these west coast venues.
Here goes, with comparisons to 2012, the last time the U.S. Open was played in the Pacific Time Zone.
Fox (Network), 8-11 PM ET: 2.4/4
Up 71% from NBC in 2014. In 2012 at Olympic Club, NBC drew a 2.07.
Fox Sports 1
U.S. Open Noon-8 pm ET: 1.28
That's up 20% from last year’s comparable first round coverage on ESPN (1.07), down from 2012 at Olympic when ESPN drew a 1.6.
**SBD's roundup of coverage calls the ratings flat and touches on the high and lowlights of day one.
Fox Sport's press release on day one with comparison's to last year in the ET zone:
FOX SPORTS’ COVERAGE OF 115th U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP DELIVERS LARGEST OPENING-ROUND AUDIENCE SINCE 2002
FOX Primetime Viewership Produces +100% Increase Over 2014
Combined Average Audience Between FOX Sports 1 and FOX Shows +54% Gain
Digital Live Streaming in the Opening Round More Than Doubles Entire 2014 Championship Audience
University Place, Wash. – FOX Sports’ inaugural presentation of the 115th U.S. Open Championship at Chambers Bay began Thursday with a combined 11 hours of live golf coverage on FOX Sports 1 (12:00 – 8:00 PM ET) and local FOX stations (8:00 – 11:09 PM ET), and the two networks combined to pull in the event’s largest opening-round viewership in over a decade.
The combined audience of the first-day coverage averaged 2.0 million viewers, making it the most-watched opening round since the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, an event that ultimately saw Tiger Woods edge runner-up Phil Mickelson by three strokes to win his second U.S. Open title.
Audience deliveries showed impressive gains on both networks as fans tuned in to watch the opening-round coverage of golf’s most challenging major.
-Thursday’s combined average audience of 2.0 million viewers across FOX Sports 1 and local FOX stations was the largest since the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black (2.3 million).
-The average viewership marked a +54% increase over 2014’s opening-round coverage on NBC and ESPN (2.0 million vs. 1.3 million).
-Primetime coverage on local FOX stations averaged 3.0 million viewers, a +100% increase over NBC’s broadcast coverage in 2014 (1.5 million viewers), earning a 1.9/4 rating that was also +46% better than NBC last year (1.4/4).
-The opening-round of the championship drove FOX to a first-place finish among the broadcast networks in primetime in the key male demographics: 18-34 (0.6), 18-49 (0.9) and 25-54 (1.2).
-Viewership on FOX peaked with 3.5 million viewers from 10:00-10:30 PM ET.
-Top five markets for Thursday’s opening round coverage on FOX broadcast network: Seattle (6.0), Louisville (4.7), Columbus (4.6), Indianapolis (4.4) and Detroit (4.1).
-FOX Sports 1 averaged 1.5 million viewers throughout the day, a +25% increase over ESPN’s delivery in 2014. Viewership on FOX Sports 1 peaked from 5:30-6:00 PM ET at 2.1 million viewers, following the start of Woods’ opening round.
-On the digital front, the number of official U.S. Open live streams accessed during opening-round action were more than double the total combined number measured over the entire four-day championship in 2014. Fox Sports GO, USOpen.com and the U.S. Open official app currently offer multiple channels of live coverage, including featured groups, featured holes and U.S. Open 360.
The players are understandably frustrated with the Chambers Bay greens, which look awful on HD TV and not a whole lot better in person.
As I noted in this item for GolfDigest.com, the speed inconsistency most bothered Phil Mickelson late in his round, though the USGA's Stimpmeter numbers suggest otherwise. (Bob Harig also tackled the topic, with comments from Monty.)
The bigger issue may be the inconsistency in quality from green-to-green. The more recently grown-in fescue greens (7, 13, etc.) are superior to the older ones infested with in-full-bloom poa.
But how much complaining is warranted when, according to Justin Ray, the 72.72 field scoring average in round one was the second easiest U.S. Open start over the last 20 years. Not since Olympia Fields in 2003 have players had it so "easy."
There is also the issue of whether it's the responsibility of the superintendent to provide perfectly consistent speeds from practice putting green to the 18th. I say no. It's up to the player to figure out and note the differences. However, the stress of tournament conditions along with the recent warm spell have added a stress element that has the greens on our radar as the rest of this U.S. Open plays out.
It's hard to say what the weather will do over the next three days, but here's the local expert's take so far.
Gary Player Celebrates 50th Anniversary Of His U.S. Open Win By Reminding The USGA To Roll Back The Ball!
In the 50th anniversary year of Gary Player's career Grand Slam-clinching win in the U.S. Open, Cliff Schrock digs into the archives to look at the clinching years and ages.
Player was at Chambers Bay Thursday to celebrate the anniversary and put his hosts in their place.
Q. Gary, you won that 65 Open at Bellerive, which has been out of the public eye for a few years, but is coming back. Tell everybody a little bit about what kind of golf course Bellerive is. Maybe even mention some of the best holes or your favorite holes and tell us how you think the players are going to fare there, whether it's an easy time or whether you think it's going to be really tough.
GARY PLAYER: When I went there it was the longest U.S. Open course in history. And it was young. And I go back there now, which I went back to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in St. Louis, which I appreciated, and looked at Bellerive and trees, it's just in undated with trees, and this beautiful golf course today. And it's an appropriate place to have an Open. But very few places today in any tournament, due to the mismanagement of the golf ball, which is actually deteriorating the game to a large extent, not in professional golf; professional golf has never been so healthy, ever. But amateur golf, which is the heart of the game, we're getting less players and less players. You can buy a golf course for a dollar today, if you take over the debt, which nobody does, but rounds are down because they're making golf courses longer, they're putting bunkers in front of the greens, they're making crazy undulating greens, and the members hate it, and then they levy you and so they resign out from the club.
So bleak and yet, so true. Go on...
We're desperately running out of water in the world, and the fertilizer and the machinery and then they levy you again. So if they just leave the golf course as they are for the amateur members and cut the ball back 50 yards for professional golf we wouldn't have to waste hundreds of millions of dollars altering golf courses and making them 7900 yards long and increasing the expenses and getting less people to play. We're in dire straits at the moment. If you look at Augusta, from what I've heard, if I'm correct, they're now buying the street on No. 2 and the street on No. 5, and they're making the tee back on the street. Augusta cannot go back any further, they cannot go in the streets. Well, they are. They're buying the streets. So where are we going? And we've never had a big man play golf here, guys, ladies. We've never had a big man other than George Bayer, who played in our time. Wait until a LeBron James and the Michael Jordans and the Shaq O'Neals, and they're coming. Because this is the only sport you can make more money at 80 than when you were world champion. It doesn't apply to other sports, because you finish at 30 years of age. And so where are we going? We saw Bubba Watson at the 13th hole of Augusta hit a driver and a pitching wedge. We saw him hit a driver and a 9-iron over the 15th on a par 5 over the green. So where are we going? It's making a farce of the game. And they're two different games. And our leaders won't adhere to that.
I love old people who don't care anymore, even when they are insulting their hosts.
They insist that it's the same game. Well, go and watch some of these guys play and you'll realize it's not the same game. And so what we've got to do, we've got to go accordingly on the right path and make the right decision. Because if you make the wrong decision, it will be comparable to what happened with Polaroid and Kodak, who are now extinct today. And their executive, their CEO said, I'm reluctant to change because we're doing so well. And his advisors are saying change, and they're nonexistent today. And Steve Jobs did the opposite, he had vision and went the right way, and was highly successful. So the decision our leaders take now has a great determining factor in what happens in the future.
Now, back to 7,900 yard course that's taking almost six hours to play this afternoon.
Just focusing on the positive!
The initial foray into golf broadcasting for Fox Sports was the mess you'd expect when a network is essentially debuting a new broadcast team during a Super Bowl spread out over several hundred acres.
Much of the telecast sparingly used the innovations predicted or even could muster up basic graphics showing a player's name and score, elements we've come to expect in the 21st century. There were many ill-timed pre-packaged features or studio visits as key players were on the course. Yes, those players were at least viewable on the mostly good Featured Group and Featured Hole coverage, but after NBC's approach to the U.S. Open, the change was jarring.
A full-page leaderboard meltdown for a few early hours, later chalked up to a "global" issue by lead announcer Joe Buck even as scoring worked everywhere else on the property. Gaps in sound for surprisingly long periods were embarrassing and detracted by a strong effort on the sound side of the telecast.
These hiccups were to be expected.
What wasn't expected: the narrow focus on name players and almost complete disregard for so many of the qualifiers who make the U.S. Open different than any other American event. They will be criticized for over-covering Tiger Woods, but the way in which he shot 80 warranted the attention he received. There was a brief interest in 15-year-old Cole Hammer with a package of Hammer fending off questions to make us all feel old. It was cute, but not as fun as seeing shots played at the wild and wacky Chambers Bay, even if they were by people we don't know. One would think the USGA should be about telling the stories of not just the stars, but also core golfers who are getting a rare shot at history.
In defense of the cameramen, who lost a few balls in the air, it's very difficult to see a ball out here. The combination of gray skies and off-color turf is the culprit.
There were certainly some fun shots from the Chase Cam (Chase Car once to Greg Norman), though the ones trying to show green contours seemed rushed.
The announcing was a mixed bag, with good energy and tone early on from all, but the long day appeared to catch up to the crew (though Norman offered some pointed analysis of Tiger late in the day before Joe Buck and Norman hit a wall and sounded exhausted). Curt Menifee seems totally out of his element, and maybe not even aware players don't get to choose their own tee times.
The fear of upsetting the USGA appears to be influencing the commentary, as the normally unrestrained Tom Weiskopf made a strong effort to hide his disdain for the course, only to not fool many viewers. Faxon and Flesch sounded comfortable and authoritative, as did Gil Hanse in a potentially awkward role of golf architecture expert. Former USGA Executive Director David Fay seemed underutilized after a briefly window with Tom Weiskopf, Buck and Norman. Charles Davis is yet another inexplicably bad interviewer while Holly Sonders seems woefully underutilized.Though she did get a nice hug from Phil Mickelson.
Also, six minutes of current Executive Director Mike Davis on camera talking about the course setup, while Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy were in key portions of their round, only fuels the perception that Fox is efforting to appease their broadcast partners at the expense of viewers.
Stay tuned for other reviews. In the meantime, one of the more adorable mistakes:
**Reader Michael charted Fox's coverage and shared this...
--Fox showed 57 of the field's 156
--Players never seen in the top 10: Jason Dufner and Joost Luiten
--Notables not seen: Miguel Angel Jimenez, Richard Lee (U of Washington) Shane Lowry, Colin Montgomerie,
**Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times with this review of the good and bad, along with an explanation of the scoring issues.
Later, when the on-screen leaderboard suddenly vanished, Buck quipped: “Of the 74 million people that are here on behalf of Fox Sports, somehow we don’t have our leaderboard. Somebody unplugged it. Once we can find the outlet, we’ll plug it back in.’’
It turns out that glitch wasn’t the network’s fault. Fox spokesman Dan Bell said the scoring system provided by USGA and their technology partner had a breakdown that affected the entire compound, including Golf Channel, TV Asahi and Sky Sports.
The Washington Post's Marissa Payne with this roundup of the social media chatter on Fox's U.S. Open debut.
Two years ago, NBC's Johnny Miler said about Fox,“You can’t just fall out of a tree and do the U.S. Open.... No way they can step in and do the job we were doing. It’s impossible." Today to start Open coverage, @Buck said, "We've dropped out of a tree onto your TV."
Joe said to Sports Business Journal's @Ourand_SBJ, “I’ll never forget what [Miller] said when Fox got the rights,” Buck said. “We haven’t been up in a tree. We’ve been working at it. We’ve been trying to get better at it."
They're off and bumping along at crusty Chambers Bay under gray skies and little breeze.
Fox Sports 1 kicks off coverage at 9 am PT with multiple streaming options at USOpen.com.
Fox Sports 1 subscribers who were experiencing World Darts Championships and other darts associated programming during big events, will get to watch all USGA programming.
Sources confirm the two sides have reached an agreement just in time for round one of the U.S. Open, adding approximately 4.6 million homes with access to coverage.
Fox and AT&T had been in a subscriber fee dispute for some time, causing viewers to miss several major Fox Sports 1 events, including the first two USGA telecasts.
The Guardian's Ewan Murray reports on the falls of Henrik Stenson caddie Gareth Lord and Stephen Gallacher bagman Damian Moore, prompting Stenson to deem the conditions "dangerous."
Stenson’s caddie Gareth Lord is expected to appear for Thursday’s opening round despite a fall on the 16th hole on Wednesday, which resulted in a heavy strapping being applied to his wrist and a subsequent x-ray.
Shortly afterwards, Gallacher’s bagman Damian Moore fell when walking in rough on the 6th hole and twisted an ankle. Moore’s prospects of appearing for day one at the US Open are regarded as slim after a protective cast was placed on the injury.
The concern for falls was so great that one agency has backup drivers for their loopers.
Rex Hoggard reports.
Mac Barnhardt and Jimmy Johnston with Lagardere Unlimited confirmed to GolfChannel.com that they have retained a local caddie for the week to substitute in case one of their players’ caddies is injured or unable to work.
Michael Greller, Jordan Spieth’s caddie who used to work at Chambers Bay, recommended Brendon Solomonson to serve as the group’s backup caddie for the week.
The finisher signals the arrival of the much anticipated U.S. Open and few holes are more intriguing than the 18th. While I'm not as fascinated by the alternating par of the 1st and 18th depending on wind or the committee's mood, what does interest is the decision for Sunday's final round. Will a reachable par-5 encourage going for the green in two, or will we see a long, dreary, hard-to-par two-shotter?
Either way, this nice lay-of-the-land hole is marred only but poorly constructed "basement" bunker added for the U.S. Open and hopefully filled in soon. The strategic concept of the bunker is sound, the construction execution lacking because it's so different looking than any other hazard on the course. Not only is the look jarring, it reminds the golfer that this is not a natural bunker, but instead something added later to penalize. A
All the talk of scouting, setup options, bad climbs, fescue grass, Fox Sports and the mysterious Chambers Bay arrives Thursday with a long but potentially captivating day of U.S. Open golf.
I wish I could read everything that was written today but we were busy bickering away on the Live From set about the course.
Here's where Jaime Diaz, John Feinstein and I discuss the role USGA setup and the importance of risk-reward golf. And another segment on the USGA's evolution.
Here's where we talk about our picks and you can hear my fantasy prediction of a Rickie-Phil Monday playoff (okay, the match-up possibility, not the idea of a playoff). Speaking of Phil Mickelson, he's not going to be hitting many drivers, which is a big change from his initial assessment when he played here a few weeks ago. Which is more a statement about the firm and fast golf than it is about Phil's game. He's also sounding confident about matching up with the sensiblities of the course, as Sean Martin notes here.
I have a good feeling about the course setup after what I saw last Sunday. It feels like Mike Davis and Jeff Hall will have things playing tough but not insanely so. The water has been pouring at night onto Chambers Bay! Still, here are things to look for indicating things are getting goofy.
Brad Fritsch (1:00 pm tee time Thursday) had a solid set of tweets assessing the course and he covers the buried lede of the week: the fan experience here, which is getting rave reviews until one tries to see golf. This is huge on a number of levels, starting with the prospects of a return to Chambers Bay but also in potentially impacting how the golf is perceived. We may seem some birdies without roars on holes where there should be people. The 8th hole is going to be played in complete solitude, which may be best as no one needs to see what happens up there.
GolfDigest.com's Dave Kindred filed a dandy on the weird viewing experience this week.
And here are Brad's Tweets:
Thanks to reader Tobin for this Cliff Mass weather blog post on how typical this week's weather is for this time of year. He also touches on the microclimates at Chambers Bay as well as a tournament day forecast.
Anyone walking the course and paying attention will be fascinated by the temperature difference between the Puget Sound adjacent holes and those up the hill. The item explains that and more. And suggests rain gear Friday just in case.
The meteorology of Chamber's Bay is heavily influenced by the nearby Sound, which substantially moderates the temperatures year round. The course also slopes down to the Sound (see picture above and map below). As a result of these two factors, the lower holes tend to be cooler and windier, getting air coming off the nearby water. The wind can pick up a bit during the late afternoon as the southern part of the Sound Breeze reaches the course. During the evening, as the land cools, there is a tendency for air to drain downward towards lower elevation.
**Just a reminder and time change: we'll be talking weather, course setup and the USGA's philosophic shift under Mike Davis on a special hour of Golf Channel Live From at 10 am PT/1 pm ET Wednesday from Chambers Bay. We being John Feinstein, Jaime Diaz and yours truly.