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The name Pebble Beach might suggest a seaside course in the manner of the links of Britain. But It is far from that. I can think of no approximate parallel.




"Think of wacky bowls where the sculptor takes the wet clay mold and stretches it in different directions."

The first review is on the Castle Course at St. Andrews, making its debut this week.

Alistair Tait doesn't sound like he'll be invited back after this.

With the Castle Course, I felt as if I’d need a few rounds to get the lay of the land.

I’d certainly need more than a few rounds to get used to the greens. Kidd must have been in a funky mood when he designed these, for they might be the most undulating greens I’ve ever played.

The note I jotted on my course guide regarding the fifth green consists of  one word: “stupid.” The course guide describes this as a “bowl.” I’d agree if it read, “bowl that’s bent out of shape.” Think of wacky bowls where the sculptor takes the wet clay mold and stretches it in different directions.



Lost Balls, Double Digit Scores And Unreachable Fairway Add Up To Declaration Of Success By Dawson

The R&A frontman and in house architect, Peter Dawson, declares his redo work at Turnberry a success. And boy doesn't it sound like great work based on this reporting. First, Douglas Lowe writes:

The 17th hole particularly, where Nick Price had an eagle 3 on his way to Open triumph in 1994, was considered too soft for a modern championship, but having lengthened the hole and added three new bunkers there were lost balls galore in the qualifying rounds.

Scores in excess of 10 were recorded as players, into winds in excess of 30mph, failed to make the 230-yard carry to the fairway and so tough was the course altogether that the competition scratch score on day two was up at a mind-boggling nine-over-par 79.

Asked about the severity of the 17th, Dawson, who has been under fire in recent years for allowing distances the ball is hit to increase, quipped: "The players will just have to learn to hit the ball further."

Brilliant answer!

Mike Aitken can't wait for the Open Championship next year after witnessing the same success as Lowe:

Although the Ailsa has been something of a soft touch at past Opens – both Tom Watson and Nick Price won at Turnberry with 72 hole totals of 268, the lowest winning scores for an Open in Scotland – the revised links, albeit in severe weather, produced a standard scratch of 79 during the first round of qualifying for the Amateur last week. Moreover, a number of players from the new tee at the stretched par-5 17th couldn't reach the fairway when the hole played into a strong headwind.

One of the most heartening aspects of the changes was the success of the 16th, where the re-modelled par 4 has become a 458-yard dogleg which brings the burn in front of the green into play and approaches the green from a far trickier angle. "I never thought I'd see the day when people couldn't get up in two at the 16th," admitted Dawson.
Yes that sounds heartening!
Although offering a spectacular view, the new tenth tee, built beyond the halfway house to create a dramatic drive over a rocky promontory, received more mixed reviews. "If we had our time again we might have raised (the tee] a little," said the chief executive. "It's not too late to change, and we'll think about it."

 Print up that change order Peter!


Shocker: Doctors Declare Tiger Surgery A Success

Your basic pre-fab press release from IMG, with a quote from Tiger written by someone else...

Tiger Woods underwent successful reconstructive surgery on the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in his left knee on Tuesday in Park City, Utah.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Thomas D. Rosenberg and Dr. Vernon J. Cooley who did arthroscopic surgery on Woods’ same knee in April of this year.

“We were confident going in to this surgery and I am pleased with the results,” said Dr. Rosenberg.  “There were no surprises during the procedure, and as we have said, with the proper rehabilitation and training, it is highly unlikely that Mr. Woods will have any long-term effects as it relates to his career.”

A rehabilitation schedule and projected timetable for Woods’ return to competitive golf has yet to be determined, but will be announced at the appropriate time.

“It was important to me to have the surgery as soon as possible so that I could begin the rehabilitation process,” said Woods. “I am very appreciative of Dr. Rosenberg and Dr. Cooley and his staff’s guidance and look forward to working with them through the necessary rehabilitation and training.  I also wanted to thank everyone for their well wishes over the past week.  I look forward to working hard at my rehabilitation over the coming months and returning to the PGA TOUR healthy next year.”


Reflecting On The 2008 U.S. Open: The Setup

2008OpenLogo.gifThere's not too much more I can say about the details of the Torrey Pines setup that were not covered in the blog or in the Golf World story on No. 14.

However I would ask you to consider the potential impact of what Mike Davis and friends accomplished at Torrey Pines.

They took a golf course virtually devoid of strategic questions and made it a thinking man's championship that will be remembered for ages. The simple act of moving tees around actually caused players to pause and think. Players could not plan out their club selections in advance (sorry Phil).

The fact that this kind of spontaneity and surprise only happens in links golf speaks to just how far the game has drifted from rewarding thought as much as physical skill. 2008USOpenSetupGear.jpg

Though Davis made it look easy it can be to inject interest, there was a great deal of planning and vision that went into the setup. This doesn't mean anyone should be discouraged from more of this variety in future majors, tour events or local amateur tournaments, just a reminder that a lot of work went into this.

Tiger On No. 14 Sunday, Photo courtesy of Rob Matre (click to enlarge)
I'm still fascinated that a few observers are making a fuss about the notion that players had to pause and contemplate options at No. 14. That shortening a "solid" hole like the 14th was a terrible sacrifice. Yes, the current 14th is solid. Solidly dull. You hit the fairway, you hit the green and you putt. There are not questions to answer, no decisions to make. Just an obedience examination.

Ponder this: I saw only one player the entire day come to No. 14 tee and pull a club before he arrived at the tee markers. Everyone else had a discussion with their caddy or at least took in information before selecting a club. That is the kind of "test" that golf needs more of. Not every hole because they'll never finish, just more often during a round.230136-1661192-thumbnail.jpg
Heath Slocum drives the 14th green, courtesy of Rob Matre (click to enlarge)

It also cannot be underestimated how difficult a shot the 267-yard 14th posed and how impressive Rocco's two plays were Sunday and in the playoff.

Now that we have evidence of an exciting event owing much of its success to the setup elements--particularly the vulnerability and scoring differential on the par-5s--Mike Davis has proven that options, variety and strategic thinking can offer difficulty that is far more interesting and revealing than tiny landing areas and high rough.


Someone Thinks The USGA Has Money...

I'll be in America's prettiest flyover state for a few days and not sure how the Internet conection will be, but in the mean time here's an odd one from dug up by reader Rob.


Lettter From Saugerties: The U.S. Open and Tiger

Our friend Frank Hannigan, the former USGA Executive Director, wrote after the thrilling U.S. Open to put matters in his unique perspective.

Dear Geoff:

Golf was not invented at Torrey Pines. Nor did it die on Tuesday when Tiger Woods revealed he is badly damaged and can't play for the balance of 2008.

Ben Hogan, hit straight on by a fast moving bus, in the winter of 1948, after winning the US Open,  had to sit our all of 1949.   Golf survived. The four major winners in 1949 were Sam Snead (twice),  Bobby Locke and Cary Middlecoff.   Moreover,  I'm sick of hearing of the huge money game being defined as "golf."  As in "Golf is in dreadful shape with Tiger out.  The British Open might just as well be Quad Cities.

By the way, golf has been stagnant during the era of Tiger Woods in terms of rounds played or golf balls sold. In Hogan's best days,  golf boomed.

I'm not ready to acknowledge that Tiger is the best player ever.   America has produced four incredible golfers: Bobby Jones,  Hogan and Jack Nicklaus. Jones was such an anomaly it's impossible to compare him with anyone.  He was an amateur who stopped playing competitive golf at age 28.   While he was the best player in world  -  way in front of Sarazen and Hagen - he picked up degrees from Georgia Tech (engineering),  Harvard (English Lit) and Emory (Law).  

Hogan's total of nine majors  was lessened by away time.  After returning from his bus accident,  Hogan won the 1950, 1951 and 1953 US Opens.  Your readers will recognize the most famous photograph in golf ever taken was of Hogan from behind by Life Magazine 's brilliant Hy Peskin.  He was hitting a 1 iron into the 18th green at Merion.  As was his wont,  Hogan did not miss the fairway or the green and went on to win a 3 man playoff

Two years later, with no special enthusiasm,  Hogan went on to his lone British Open and won at Carnoustie.

(A typical Hogan story:  As he rested in what passed for a locker room at Carnoustie he was approached by a dignified man bearing a card.  The man said he was representing Paul, king of Belgium.  His majesty had read Mr. and Mrs.Hogan were coming to the continent for a week.  Would they like to stay in his castle and perhaps play a round of golf.  Hogan looked and said "I don't play golf when I'm on vacation.")

He took nearly a week to reach Great Britain by ship.  Few Americans played. But let's pose a counter factual: suppose there were jets so that Hogan could play in every British Open from 1946 through 1960. (He had missed 1942 through 1945 because of World War II. )  I do believe he would have won some.

As for Nicklaus, with his 18 majors and 19 runner-ups in majors, I resort to another hypothetical.  It is that Tiger Woods comes along in 1970 rather than in the late 90s.     Nicklaus just might have revved up his game a little.  He was the most competitive man I ever met.  He thought he should win everything.  In his later years, he played with Greg Norman as his partner in one those silly season events.  They were way behind after 3 rounds. Nicklaus peered at the scoreboard in our ABC booth and allowed as how they could get right back in it by shooting about 51 in the last round in a scramble format.  Norman looked at Jack as if he was crazy.

Jack had an approach based on his belief  that only 5 or 6 other players could stand the heat in the final round of  a major whereas "I can always play my game".  In my opinion, that's why he was runner-up so often.   He would be a touch cautious,  get behind after 3 rounds and then come roaring back   Too late.

In a technical sense, Nicklaus was in relative terms  and considering the change in equipment, about the same length as Tiger but infinitely  straighter.   Jack was an astonishing fairway wood player.  Alas, there are no fairway wood (or metal) shots today.  Their iron play was equally terrific.  It is accepted that Tiger is the world's best putter. Nicklaus was not bad.   The late David Marr and others regarded Jack as the best putter in his glory days.

Tiger is miles ahead when it comes to playing from 120  yards on in.  Lee Trevino said "God gave Jack everything except a wedge."  Though I continue to think Jack would have improved his short game if it had been necessary to play against Tiger.

We hope for a complete recovery for Tiger.   When he returns it will be said on ESPN that he has reinvented the game.

What actually happened last week was a young man on the USGA staff,  Mike Davis, just about turned water into wine in preparing Torrrey Pines.  It is a golf course that is not and never will be exceptional.  What I learned is that, given a few million dollars and enough property to expand the course to 7,400 yards,  Mike Davis could make any of hundreds of courses pass as US Open courses.

Considering the justifiable  praise  Mike Davis earned last week, it could be that he will be  tempted other entities with even more money than the USGA has.  I would caution him:  be careful.  It's not so easy out in the real world.

Frank Hannigan


Reflecting On The 2008 U.S. Open: The Media Center

2008OpenLogo.gifBecause I know how much you love to hear writers complain about getting free food, a free pass (sometimes inside the ropes), free merchandise (they bribed us with a pair of Maui Jims!), free internet access and a cushy shuttle drive to the course...I'll just stick with one gripe.

Well, two.

- The USGA put the media tent on the second fairway of the North Course and trapped it with a row of corporate tents lining the first fairway. This meant it would take 10-12 minutes of walking just to see any action on the golf course unless you cut through one of the tents like I did most of the week (by the time they realized I was intruding, I was out the front door...).

The Media Center lurking like the view from Bates Motel up to mom's house (click to enlarge)
When I mentioned to David Fay that it was a great week except for the location of the media center, he said that as he was walking up the steep hill the tent reminded him of the view from the Bates Motel looking up to mom's haunted house. He was right about that (see photo).

When the Open returns in 2017 or 18, let's put the media center to the right of the range next to the player locker room and leave the cool ocean view (that we never got to see) for the overpaying patrons. 230136-1654222-thumbnail.jpg
Inside the media tent (click to enlarge)

- IBM scoring. Various Open vets declared it a disaster. The round one scores did not make most national newspapers east of the Mississippi and by all accounts, the Unysis system of the past was faster and more efficient. Also, based on the comments in threads here, the website was a step back in terms of function and reliability.

Alright, off I go in my Maui Jims.



"Scooped it up in a empty beer cup, as not to disrupt the DNA, Ive got lots of witness'...all moneys go to my daughters college fund"

cb8f_2.JPGSome people go to the merchandise tent and buy a hat, others pick up Tiger Woods-discarded apple cores and put them on ebay. And you wonder why he has a boat called Privacy?

The text, in case it disappears...

I was at the US Open this Friday, following Tiger Woods down the 12 th Fairway, after his tee shot, he was eating an apple, 30 yards from his ball he discarded his apple core in the rough, I asked a photothe to kick it over my way, and he did, I never touched the core, Scooped it up in a empty beer cup, as not to disrupt the DNA, Ive got lots of witness'...all moneys go to my daughters college fund 


The Sports Guy On Tennis V. Golf

Bill Simmons offers his fixes for tennis and makes plenty of golf references in this ESPN The Magazine column. All I could think was, as many issues as golf faces, at least it's not the mess tennis has become.

Thanks to reader Chris for this.


"He would hit four or five balls, then limp to the cart for a rest."

John Huggan gets Hank Haney to talk about the weeks leading up to the Open and Tiger's knee prognosis.
"Three weeks before the US Open he couldn't walk. It was about then he started hitting balls and trying to play a little bit. I watched him practise. He would hit four or five balls, then limp to the cart for a rest. He'd sit down for a few minutes, then limp back to the balls and hit four or five more. That was all he could do.

"At that time he was insistent that he was going to play in Jack Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village. I just shook my head. 'Bud,' I said, 'how are you going to do that? You can't even walk.'

"His feeling was that he had to play in the Memorial because he was so rusty. But he couldn't walk from the kitchen to the dining room table without bending over, he was in so much pain. So there was no way he could play."

With the Memorial proving a tournament too soon, Woods' mind then shifted to the possibility of making it to the US Open.

"He started playing a little bit, but never more than a few holes at a time and always in a cart," recalls Haney. "In fact, he didn't play more than 72 holes total between the Masters and the US Open. When we went to Torrey Pines the weekend before the tournament I told him he had to try and walk at least nine holes. Just to see if he could do it.

"So I drove the cart and he walked nine holes. He made it, but only just. I was asking him if he could bend down to read putts. He said, as he always does, 'I'll be all right.' But I made him do it. So he tried. He could get down okay, but he had to lean on his putter to get back up again. Even then he was still saying he'd be all right!

"Anyway, he walked nine holes on the Sunday, then nine more on the Monday. And he couldn't hit more than 50 balls on either day. Whether he was going to play was in doubt right up to the last minute."

“I would hope it would be teed up pretty good"

2008OpenLogo.gifTim Sullivan in the San Diego Union Tribune talks to David Fay about the prospects for a return to Torrey Pines and it seems it has to get in line behind Oakmont and Erin Hills. (Now, I'm no accountant, but if I'm looking at the numbers from last week I'm making a case for Erin Hills waiting a few more, after Tiger has retired.)

The USGA will consider those courses at its October championships and executive committee meetings in New Jersey. Based on the commercial and theatrical success of the 108th Open, however, Torrey Pines could also be considered for fast-track approval.

“It's unusual, but not unheard of, to select three U.S. Open sites at one meeting,” Fay said yesterday via e-mail.

Site selection, Fay cautioned, is only a first step. The USGA customarily withholds announcing its decisions until a formal agreement can be negotiated with prospective tournament hosts.

Given the additional complexities involved in haggling with city government as well as the various private enterprises that operate at Torrey Pines, those negotiations could turn tricky. Still, the success of this year's tournament was so great that the USGA may want to ponder pushing another site back a year in order to accelerate its Torrey Pines timetable.

After all, a PGA Championship in San Diego in August has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
Whether auditors will conclude that the city broke even on the 2008 Open will depend on the size of their imagination. The city stands to collect only $500,000 in cash for an event that could be worth up to $50 million in profits to the USGA, according to Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal.

Though Fay says that estimate is a distortion – “the guy who parsed the numbers together for Sports Business should receive an advanced degree for making accounting a creative art!” he wrote – the USGA typically books enough profit to pay millions to the Open site.

And this is nice to read since despite his great intentions and hard work, the appearance of a conflict has not been a positive...

The Friends of Torrey Pines, the donors who made the Open possible by funding the renovations that raised Torrey Pines' South Course to USGA standards, should have no role in the next round of negotiations. Eliminating these middlemen – well-intentioned though they were – means the city should be able to deal directly with the USGA and therefore reap a larger piece of the proceeds.

“I would hope it would be teed up pretty good,” said Jay Rains, who spearheaded San Diego's Open initiative before becoming a USGA vice president. “I'm not personally aware of why the city wouldn't directly contract (with the USGA).”

Johnny Apologizes!

This Richard Sandomir follow-up on Johnny's apology over the Rocco-as-pool-cleaner-remark almost reads like something out of The Onion. And speaking of The Onion, reader Jon shares this fresh game story from the satirical rag.


R&A Releases Padraig Pace of Play Video; Sergio Manners Set For '09 Release

Thanks to reader Chris for forcing me to not ignore the R&A press release on their new Padraig Harrington helmed etiquette videos, which include a pace of play segment from Europe's answer to Ben Crane.


Casey To Vijay: You Can't Keep Up WIth Me In The Gym Old Geezer

Paul_Casey_355514a.jpgWho said it would get dull with Tiger out of the picture fo ra while? Thanks to reader Chris for Craig Tregurtha's report on the lastest chapter in the Vijay v. Britain's-soft-golfers-spat, with Paul Casey tells us far more than we ever wanted to know about his home routine:

“I am angry, he has no clue what I do, so how can he comment?” Casey, who had a second-round 68 to move into contention at the BMW International Open in Munich yesterday, said. “I can only speak for the guys I know well, like Justin Rose, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter, but we are all working incredibly hard and I think it is an unfair shot from Vijay. I would like to see him try to live with me in the gym for a couple of hours.

“He does not know us and he has no evidence to back up what he says. We are all very frustrated that we have not won majors and that our results have not been as good as we would have liked. But it is not down to lack of effort and perhaps when we do make a breakthrough then it will open the door to a lot more wins.



More U.S. Open Ratings

From Ron Sirak in this week's Golf World Bunker, note the last item:

The 4-10:30 p.m. EDT broadcast on NBC Saturday earned a 5.3 rating, a 15-percent bump over last year's 4.6. The prime time hours (8-10:30 p.m.) earned a 5.9, 84 percent higher than second place CBS, and peaked at 6.3 from 10-10:30. Sunday's telecast, from 3-9 p.m. EDT, earned an 8.5 rating, up 21 percent over 2007. The prime-time hours (7-9 p.m.) earned an 11.4, NBC's best for that time period since the 2006 Winter Olympics.

And from NBC, regarding Monday's playoff:

NBC Sports' broadcast of yesterday's dramatic conclusion to the U.S. Open earned a 7.6 overnight rating and 20 share (2-4:45 p.m. ET), the best Monday golf rating in 30 years (Phoenix Open, Jan. 16, 1978, 7.7/20 national rating), and a 90 percent increase over the last time the Open finished with a Monday playoff (2001 - 4.0/12). Tiger Woods won his third U.S. Open title and 14th major championship overall, edging Rocco Mediate on the 19th playoff hole.


Knee Jerk Reaction

The psychics will be called next week. For now, we're talking to doctors, nurses and hospital janitors about Tiger's knee.

I'm just shocked Bill Frist hasn't been quoted yet.

John Garrity talks to a mystery doctor who says we aren't getting the full story.

But the doc isn't sure that the Woods camp has been completely forthcoming about the famous patient's condition. "There's a couple of things that still don't make perfect sense," he said. "There's no such thing as a double stress fracture in a young, healthy person. I've been a knee surgeon for 25 years, and I've never heard of that, although it happens in old people.

"Furthermore, it's extremely hard to tear an ACL just running. It happens mostly in women — say, from running up and down a basketball floor. And a non-contact ACL, that's not likely to cause bone or cartilage damage."

An unbylined Independent report says he should only be out three months while Damon Hack compiles other medical experts and their forecasts.

Steve Elling hears from the crackpots who think Tiger was putting on an act.

According to this report from Australia, some sucker bet $252,300 that Tiger would win three majors. Nice try. Hope he got his room comp'd.

In the non-medical opinion division, John Antonini says that Tiger will still be ranked No. 1 even after 6-8 months off. I'm not sure if that's a statement about the rankings or how weak his competition is.

Thomas Bonk talks to Ty Votaw who sees lots of upside in us getting to familiarize ourselves with this month's next great player, Anthony Kim.

"We see a vast amount of potential for something that's drastically different than doom and gloom," Votaw said Thursday, one day after Woods said he was out for the year and needed surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

And the folks at FedEx are trying their best to put a positive spin on this...

"There is continued excitement surrounding the FedEx Cup and the strong play of the field of golfers promises to make this year's competition incredibly exciting," said Carla Boyd, a spokeswoman for FedEx.



Reflections On The 2008 U.S. Open: Fan Experience

2008OpenLogo.gifI forgot to mention in the post on the "Championship Vision" TV that over the next few days I'll reflect on the 2008 U.S. Open and would love to read comments from others who attended. The Open will return to Torrey Pines, so why not start making our wish list for making a successful venue even better (and I know Rees, you just can't wait for the design critique post!).

So, the fan experience, as observed by someone who had an armbadge (for what it's worth)...

- While I never took the shuttle from Qualcom Stadium, I heard excellent reports about the experience. Wish they could find a closer place to park like Del Mar, but with the fair I understand why that was impossible.

- The grandstands were excellent and plentiful, though I'm still mystified by the huge gap between the 18th green and The Lodge while the scoreboard was buried under a tree that made reading it tricky for older fans in the stands. Yes, The Lodge is a beautiful piece of Greene and Greene style architecture and a great place for the Executive Committee to test the limits of a two-drink maximum (wait, that's the staff rule, sorry), but the priorities seemed a bit skewed here. 230136-1654065-thumbnail.jpg
The 18th green setting and scoreboard (click to enlarge)

-  So much for uninspired SoCal sports fans. The buzz around the marquee pairings and playoff was incredible. I'm still astounded at Rocco's ability to walk from green to tee through a deafening roar and settle down enough to put a good swing on the ball. Tiger is used to it, but I doubt Rocco had ever experienced a rush like some of those walks.

Dick Rugge in the AmEx Tent (click to enlarge)
- The corporate sponsors. As you know, I've been a strong supporter of...banishing the corporate involvement. It pains me to admit that the American Express Experience was one of the real highlights of the week. The opportunity to see USGA testing equipment and chat it up with USGA equipment gurus about how the ball rollback will work (just kidding!) was quite unique, as were the history related exhibits. The Lexus tent was much less classy, but for reasons I'll never understand, the fans loved waiting in line to pose with the trophy and hit a closest to the pin shot. 

- The merchandise tent. Reasonable pricing on nearly all items, an incredible array of choices for all taste buds and an efficient operation (at least the times I visited, though I did hear about some long waits to pay).  Whatever they are paying Mary Lopuszynski, it's probably not enough.

- Armband madness. The USGA's Craig Smith and Pete Kowalski are saints, walking 36-holes a day doing a masterful job corralling the massive media and guest entourage (Reggie Jackson?) who were awarded armbadges for inside the rope access. It's not a new problem I'm sure, but there were one too many go-fers belonging to producers for international TV as significant writers had to borrow armbadges. The USGA needs to reevaluate the access here because fans were growing weary of sitting in a spot all day and having their views blocked. And I grew tired of hearing the same old bad jokes.

Tiger's 18th hole eagle Saturday and the media inside the ropes (click to enlarge)
- The volunteers.
They seemed well trained and I never heard about a lost ball, which was incredible considering the grey skies and how far down some balls would nestle. I spoke to many marshals during the week to hear observations on how holes were playing, and their energy and passion was wonderful. Of course, when there is a waiting list to volunteer, you better behave because you could always be replaced!




Reflections On The 2008 U.S. Open: The AmEx TV's

2008OpenLogo.gifAs a devoted supporter of the USGA's corporate partner program (what would I make fun of without it?), you already knew my first stop of the week was at the American Express Experience. Okay, so it was. But when I heard they were loaning out free mini televisions to the first few thousand cardholders, I made my way to the tent Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. to find a 700-yard long line (the first group would not tee off for another hour).

"Championship Vision" is a wonderfully simple little device that the USGA signed off on as an experiment that became one of the real hits of the Open. Sunday I arrived at 7:15 and the line stretched to the merchandise tent a hundred yards away. 230136-1654135-thumbnail.jpg
The Sunday line to get a TV (click to enlarge)

The screen is approximately 4x6, provides an amazing photo and has a strong signal that carried the NBC telecast. There were also options of viewing the 1st tee and 18th green action. Ear plugs are provided to listen to a commercial free feed of the telecast and if you fail to return it after play, AmEx will donate $350 of your money to the coffers.

The picture is even better in person, and a nice shade cover helps when the sun comes out (Click to enlarge)
The only negative was the decision to mute out the announcer chatter between the breaks, otherwise the device worked wonderfully and added tremendously to the fan experience.

On Saturday USGA President Jim Vernon asked me how I liked and I gave it a big thumb's up. Behind us was Dick Ebersol, so I asked the NBC Executive Producer why he didn't have one. He pointed to his audio device that let him listen to the announce feed.  I said that's nice, but I like seeing the telecast too and offered him a look at "Championship Vision."

He had never seen one and seemed to know nothing about it. (Why do I think Mark Carlson is going to hear from Dick?) 230136-1654152-thumbnail.jpg
The lightweight devise hangs around your neck (Click to Enlarge)

Based on the experience, I would gladly have paid to rent one. So Ebersol might want to look into it, because these little TV's may just become a key part of the golf tournament spectating experience.


"And then Tiger told me, 'We're done for the year.'"'s Wayne Drehs, who profiled Steve Williams earlier this year, managed to get Tiger's caddy to offer some insights into last week.

When the golf cart departed the seventh green at Torrey Pines on Monday afternoon, carrying Tiger Woods, Steve Williams and both of their wives to the U.S. Open trophy presentation, the caddie knew his season was over.

"I kind of had a premonition that might be it," Williams told Wednesday night. "I had an inclination that a certain surgery might be required. And then Tiger told me, 'We're done for the year.'"

Once on the course, Williams said he spent most of his time encouraging Woods who, despite grimacing, not once complained to Williams that he was in pain.

"Tiger never complains. That's one of his greatest attributes," Williams said. "If he's prepared to play in a tournament, he's going to take the consequences. I'm a bit of a fast walker and there were a few times that he told me to slow down a bit so he could walk at my pace, but that was it."
This really surprised me. Maybe it explains that extra spin Tiger managed to put on the ball.
On the 72nd hole Sunday, needing a birdie to force a playoff, Woods hit his tee shot in the bunker and left his second shot in thick rough 101 yards from the pin. It was there that Williams believes he had one of the greatest calls of his career, encouraging an exhausted Woods to use his 60-degree wedge, a club he usually hits 85 yards, for his approach from 101.

"While he was standing over that ball, my heart was beating pretty hard," Williams said. "But I figured he only had one chance -- to hit that 60-degree club as hard as he could and squeeze a little more distance out of it. And that's exactly what he did. It landed just beyond the pin, had some spin on it and came right back towards the hole."



Even More U.S. Open and Tiger Clippings posts Dan Jenkins' report from Torrey Pines.

All that aside, the USGA figures Torrey Pines is a keeper for future Opens. The organization took enough money out of the week -- start the estimates at $50 million -- that might allow one entire USGA officer's family to live in a home in Rancho Santa Fe, depending on the upkeep and the size of the garage.

In this environment, the USGA knew how to entertain the 400 million spectators. It offered the pairing in the first two rounds of Tiger with the Magnificent Magician, Phil Mickelson (the deep thinker who was going with no driver and five wedges), and Australia's young and single Adam Scott.

The most fascinating incident on Friday had nothing to do with Tiger's game, although it did involve his threesome. Tony Navarro, Scott's caddie, got into it with an unruly fan at the ninth tee. The caddie suggested they meet at the bottom of the hill. They did, and observers declared Navarro the winner on points. The 7-year-old son of the unruly fan was in the gallery, as was the unruly fan's father, who was also apprehended. In the end, it struck those of us who appreciate dark humor that the kid, seeing his dad and granddad being led away, would in future years have a fond remembrance of an incident that occurred within 48 hours of Father's Day 2008.

There's no doubt that Saturday was the most surreal and exciting day of a U.S. Open since the Open used to end on Saturdays.
Richard Sandomir offers this anecdote from the head of NBC Universal Sports.
“It’s a real loss,” said Ken Schanzer, the president of NBC Universal Sports. “You hope as we go forward that new stories emerge. We have two other majors to be played, and it could be that someone becomes hot and important stories happen through them.”

Schanzer said he witnessed Woods’s appeal on a flight during the playoff.

“I stood up,” he said, “and the whole Jet Blue plane was watching Tiger Woods; young and old, men and women, black and white, applauding on the plane. When you see greatness, you’re drawn to it, and in his case, you’re drawn in multiples.”

Steve Elling talks to Hank Haney who says Tiger is only going to get better after surgery.

"He's going to better than ever," said swing coach Hank Haney of his star pupil. "Think about it. His knee hasn't been right for a long, long time and he's won, what, 10 of his last 13 tournaments, with two seconds and a fifth?

"After they finally get this fixed, how can anybody think he won't play better than he ever has?"

And Mark Soltau chats with Bubba Watson and Mark O'Meara who both say the game and Tiger will be better off thanks to Tiger's sabbatical. Right.