Rex Hoggard's sneak preview of the changes to Bethpage tells us that Rees Jones extended the course and it sounds like Mike Davis has little intention of ever coming close to maxing the Black out (just like last year). You have to love the message that sends to the one-foot-in-the-rough types, especially right after a Masters where they also started going forward a bit.
Players may worry when they see a Black course that can be stretched past 7,400 yards, spooky stuff considering that Woods was the only player to finish under par the last time the Open was played at the game’s most public major venue. But Davis and Jones look at the nip/tucks and see options.
“It’s a lot of little stuff that means a lot,” Jones said. “I reacted to what Mike wanted which was more tee options and more opportunities for accessible pin positions. It makes the pros think more.”
Jones said the course will probably not play longer than 7,300 yards, noting that Davis had some 7,600 yards of prime SoCal real-estate at Torrey Pines last year but didn’t approach that distance during the championship. For its part the USGA normally doesn’t tip its hand so far in advance of a championship, but even Davis concedes that just because he has 200 more yards to work with doesn’t mean he will use it.
“We’re trying to mix teeing grounds up. Whether it plays a yard longer than it did in 2002, I doubt it,” Davis said.
The new scorecard may scream more – with new or extended tees at nine holes including an additional 51 yards at the 13th hole, 42 yards at the ninth and 36 yards at the seventh (the fourth-toughest hole in ’02) – but players will likely be pleasantly surprised to learn there also will be more fairway, more options and more scoring opportunities awaiting them at the year’s second major.