Hazards should not be built solely with the idea of penalizing bad play, but with the object of encouraging thoughtful golf and of rewarding the player who possesses the ability to play a variety of strokes with each club. WILLIAM LANGFORD
Now posted is my Los Angeles Times story on the potential for slow play problems at Oakmont.
I'm curious what you all think of the USGA's new slow play policy (reportedly working wonders at its other 12 championships), and what it will take to get it in place at the U.S. Open?
The consensus within the USGA (at least with those I talked to) seems to be that they will have a hard time implementing this policy at the Open without the PGA Tour adopting a similar policy at its events.
“So the amount of revenue the city gets for the big golf tournament, the U.S. Open, will be $500,000?”
In the Millard Golf World piece on the USGA and Walter Driver, the Executive Committee's "hands-on" approach (euphemism for conflict of interest) is explored and yours truly weighed in with an "acerbic" remark. In light of Tod Leonard's San Diego Union-Tribune story Sunday, maybe I was not acerbic enough.
From the Millard piece:
Says one current staffer, "The last two administrations have been very hands-on. Personally, I'd say too much. I think they've gone too far."Oh but now we learn from Leonard that it's just so much worse.
One current example of this trend is the case of Cameron Jay Rains. Rains is the co-chairman of the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. He is also a member (since 2003) of the executive committee. This circumvents the time-honored practice in which local championship chairs report to USGA staff. When asked whether the arrangement presents a conflict, Driver says, "He was the chair of the '08 Open before he came on the executive committee, and we essentially screened him off from any potential conflict." Pressed to admit Rains' dual interests could at least raise some eyebrows, Driver is dismissive. "Doesn't work that way," he insists.
Some observers aren't so sure. "The person negotiating on behalf of the city of San Diego [Rains] is also on the USGA executive committee," says Shackelford. "He's on both sides of the table. So when San Diego [officials] want to know how many hats were sold and what their cut of the revenue is, this isn't a problem? Who is [Rains] looking out for? It's just astonishing."
It has been estimated that the '08 Open at Torrey Pines could produce as much as $100 million in gross revenues for the non-profit U.S. Golf Association, which uses its net proceeds from each U.S. Open to fund virtually all of its other championships and programs for the year.Oh just wait, that's the positive news!
By contrast, the city will receive $1.2 million from its contract with the Friends of Torrey Pines LLC, the organization formed to be the negotiating entity between the city and the USGA.
Only $250,000 of that will be in a cash payment, due in January of next year. Another $250,000 is going to the city from merchandise sales in the Torrey Pines pro shop, for total revenue of $500,000.
Beyond that, the Friends of Torrey Pines agreed to spend $350,000 on course work related to the Open and $350,000 for public safety services such as police and paramedics during the week of the tournament. It is spending an additional $100,000 on a practice facility for the Open.
Meantime, the city's golf enterprise fund will make no direct money from the U.S. Open, while about $3 million has been spent on projects related to the Open, according to Golf Manager Mark Woodward. That work includes the acquisition and installation of one million square feet of kikuyu turf, the moving of trees, repainting the clubhouse and restrooms, and the construction of new cart paths to minimize damage to the grass.
So the city is losing money on this deal. You say, big deal! The tax revenue will be worth it. The branding will be out of this world. And...uh, maybe not.
With part or all of the North Course to be shut down from April to August of next year because of corporate hospitality for the Open, the city will incur significant, as-yet untold losses in green-fee revenue. While Woodward estimated in a budget hearing on May 23 that the city's green-fee earnings will increase by $2.9 million in the 2008 fiscal year, he said last week that number will have to be lowered for the final budget.
Woodward said $3.5 million is being spent on the renovation of the main parking lot and the course's maintenance facilities, neither of which is being directly tied to the Open, though both projects will be complete when the tournament arrives.
“The percentage of compensation is unconscionable. I feel like there's a stinginess on the USGA's part in the face of this big bonanza,” said Paul Spiegelman, a founder of the San Diego Municipal Golfers Alliance, which gathered 1,400 signatures last year in opposition to the city's five-year golf business plan. “The golf enterprise fund should not take a beating because of this Open.”
Okay, and this before we get to the fun part...
Spiegelman spoke at the May 23 budget meeting of the city's Natural Resources and Culture Committee. At the meeting, Councilwoman Donna Frye, who was not on the City Council when the Open lease was approved, referred sarcastically on two occasions to the “wonderful” deal made by former Deputy City Manager Bruce Herring.
With a tone of incredulity in her voice, Frye asked Woodward, “So the amount of revenue the city gets for the big golf tournament, the U.S. Open, will be $500,000?”
Ah, here we go.
In San Diego, the Friends of Torrey Pines is the organizing body that will earn a percentage of corporate hospitality sales.
Jay Rains, a La Mesa attorney who led San Diego's Open bid and raised the $3.5 million from private entities to have the South Course reconstructed in 2001, is the local co-chairman of the tournament and also sits on the USGA 15-member executive committee.
Yes, and that appointment came after negotiating this deal on behalf of his hometown. Or was he really negotiating on their behalf?:
Rains said this week he believes the Friends of Torrey Pines will receive about $3.5 million from the Open – $2.5 million in corporate sales and the $950,000 the city reimbursed it for the South's reconstruction.Rains said none of that money will be kept by the nearly 30 individuals and businesses that compose the Friends of Torrey Pines.
“The money that comes back will be given to charity,” Rains said. “I don't want anybody to say we made money off a public golf course.”
Would that be we, the Friends of Torrey Pines, or we the USGA? Which side are you speaking on behalf of?
Though Rains said he will leave it up to the individual donors on how they donate their share, he intends to encourage funding a project that will enhance the experience for city golfers. He said he could not be more specific at this time.
Spiegelman said he is opposed to the Friends of Torrey Pines controlling the money earned from the Open.
“I wouldn't begrudge the Friends of Torrey Pines for creating money for charity if the city wasn't taking a beating on this,” Spiegelman said. “I don't think there should be any profits until the city and the golf enterprise fund are fully reimbursed.”
The Open windfall for the golf enterprise fund will come in the future, when in 2011, for example, residents will pay $73 and tourists $218 on weekends to walk one of a handful of public courses ever to hold the U.S. Open.
Actually, now I know who Rains is negotiating for. And it isn't his hometown.
Mike Dudurich in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on the fine line between a great U.S. Open and a disaster:
Shinnecocked is a word that's been heard inside the walls of Golf House, the corporate headquarters of the United States Golf Association. It reverberates -- a constant reminder of a Sunday round that went horribly wrong.
"I'm sorry to say I have heard it, and I wish I hadn't," said Mike Davis, the USGA's senior director of championships and the man who will set up the course at Oakmont Country Club for the 2007 Open. "It's such a fine line between setting up a course very difficult and fair and having it go over the top."
Of course, we wouldn't expect them to use the more appropriate word coined by Joe Ogilvie...
"If it doesn't get 'USGAed' too bad, it should be a great course. That is a verb. Take a wonderful golf course and ruin it. That's the definition."
David Steele of the Baltimore Sun talking to Gary Gilchrist, Michelle Wie's former instructor:
"She needs to re-evaluate the team around here ... [and] she needs to be more clear on what her goals are and the steps she needs to get to them," Gilchrist said. "And make sure everybody around her understands them. Right now with the way she's swinging, it's very difficult for her to play well. She has no control over the ball right now."
What credibility does he have? Oh, right, he teaches Suzann Pettersen who just won the LPGA Championship and nearly won the season's first major.
"Nothing would have given me more pleasure than inflicting a touch of pain and suffering on the US Tour's unworthy wealthy."
Vintage Frank Hannigan, writing in The Scotsman on Europe's U.S. Open winless drought:
I'll tell you a secret. I held high office at the USGA in those days and we wanted a European to win. It would have emphasised the worldliness of our event and victories by Europeans would have seemed a put-down for the US PGA Tour. Nothing would have given me more pleasure than inflicting a touch of pain and suffering on the US Tour's unworthy wealthy.And he slips this in...
But you let us down. And now your prospects are worse. In the world of golf gambling (illegal in the United States and therefore cited here only as hearsay) the lowest-priced Europeans are an uninviting 30-1, the numbers cited for Padraig Harrington, who comes close but always seems to make a six at least once during the final nine holes; Sergio Garcia, who has been "promising" for at least a decade and still misses three-foot putts; and the pretty swinging Luke Donald, who fancies himself as a genuine artist - on canvas at least. Trust me, Ben Hogan did not own a palette.
As for the Ryder Cup, a thought: it matters much more to your side than it does to ours. I don't think it means much at all to Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, who can tolerate, if barely, playing for nothing while big money is sucked in by the PGA of America. But what's intolerable is being forced to attend a string of the world's most boring dinner parties during the run-up to the event.
Indeed, it saddens me to think that not nearly enough of you are going to see this new version of Oakmont. The United States Golf Association, in its infinite greed, sold the television rights to Rupert Murdoch's Sky operation so as to diminish the audience in the UK. The BBC, thank goodness, continues to own the rights to the Masters.
"...the editors made a quadruple bogey by not including Tiger on its 100 Most Influential People in The World list."
I should cut Tim Rosaforte some slack for his touching tribute to Stu Schneider in this week's column, but I know deep down that Stu wouldn't want me to let these Larry King-esque musings go by without some sort of comment!
Time is by far my favorite news magazine, but the editors made a quadruple bogey by not including Tiger on its 100 Most Influential People in The World list. And I'm not just talking about what he does on the golf course. Woods may be having a hard time attracting a Memorial-like field to his new tournament, but seeing how the tough Washington crowd is laying down the red carpet for him is an indication of his influence and power.
Sure, right behind a couple of interns at Powell-Tate who can probably influence on the workings of our fine government than our golfing hero.
Tod Leonard looks at Torrey Pines, 368 days out from hosting the U.S. Open.
Torrey South is currently a wildly stitched quilt of many shades of green, brown, yellow and white. The rough is burned out from a chemical, applied intentionally, that killed all but the kikuyu grass. A few Torrey pines stand in huge crates, ready for transplantation. Tractor tracks are imbedded in mud near a few holes.And they might as well order the rye grass seed now, because kikuyu rough isn't going to fly...
There hasn't been this much construction on the South since the course was completely redesigned by architect Rees Jones in 2001 to attract the Open. But it has to look worse before it gets better.
The biggest concern, Davis said, is whether the kikuyu rough will be healthy enough by the end of the summer that he can commit to it for the Open. Otherwise, they will have to overseed the rough with rye before the tournament to enhance the thickness.
“The reason I can sleep at night is knowing that we have that rye as an option,” Woodward said.
Newsday's Mark Herrmann looks at Shinnecock Hills' slim hopes of grabbing a U.S. Open hosting bid anytime soon, with this from the Club's GM Gregg Deger:
Deger acknowledged what USGA executive director David Fay said last year, that his group and the club are discussing another Open. But, Deger added, "It's not too intently. It hasn't been active."
Marty Parkes, senior director of media relations and communications for the USGA, said, "Conversations are still going on, but I don't know of anything imminent."
Time's a-wasting. The USGA has booked the Open for the next six years, including 2009 at Bethpage Black. Already, Shinnecock has missed its once-every-nine-years call (after 1986, 1995, 2004) because Merion has been awarded the 2013 event.
Fay probably will announce the 2014 site this week, with speculation leaning toward Pinehurst No. 2. The Journal-News of Westchester reported that Winged Foot, which was lauded for being tough but fair with a 5-over par winning score last year, has asked to host in 2015.
Reader Gary notes that there was a 2-hour weather delay on the European Tour today, meaning Golf Channel's broadcast window "ran out" with the leaders having 6 or so holes to play, and the programming switched to the dreaded infomercials.
Anyone out there know precisely why they don't see the tournament to its conclusion? I'm sure our buddy Stu would have gotten to the bottom of this.
Ron Whitten presents a detailed and fascinating account of Oakmont's design evolution and he attempts to figure who was most responsible for course's character. It may surprise you.
Much less inspiring or interesting is Tom Marzolf's description of the work he and Tom Fazio have done there in recent years.
JH: Ironically, the US Open isn't the one of the four your game would seem most suited to.
GO: No. I have thought a lot about that. I would have expected, for someone like me who is a little wayward off the tee even when playing well, that Augusta or the Open would be the best bet. But US Opens are so narrow that straight hitters almost lose their advantage. Everyone is in the rough. And I'm used to that and they are not.
You can hit great, straight drives in the US Open and still miss the fairway. So it almost works against those guys. I mean, I'm quite happy hitting seven shots out of the rough. I do that every day. They don't.
I'm not alone, though. Take a look at the leader board at Winged Foot.
Phil was up there and he isn't the straightest hitter. Everyone talks about how you have to hit it straight at the US Open. And I thought that too. But in hindsight I'm not so sure. No-one can hit it straight enough to hit every fairway in the US Open. It's so difficult, almost impossible really. You can be a great driver of the ball and still miss six fairways in a day. And you can drive badly and do that.
JH: What do you think of all the rough around the greens?
GO: I think some of the holes at Winged Foot would have been better served if balls were allowed to run away from the greens, rather than get stopped within a few feet.
JH: Which is what happened with your approach to the last green came up short.
GO: Exactly. That created quite an interesting shot.
Winged Foot is a stellar course though. I can't say anything bad about it because I won! I loved the fact that they had trimmed the trees so that you can see a lot of the course under the branches. That has been lost in a lot of places, but Winged Foot had that look about it.
It also has some of the coolest greens I have ever seen.
Chris Millard's story on the USGA under Walter Driver marks the first time a publication of any kind has addressed the USGA presidential jet. Millard considers it in the context of USGA staff outrage over benefit cuts and Driver's "change agent" style:
...in February USGA staff was notified of significant cuts to their medical plan. Further, the Educational Assistance Program, a prized USGA benefit, which since 1997 has assisted Golf House employees with the cost of a child's college tuition, would be phased out.
Compounding the issue--and confounding staffers--were the following: First, only weeks prior to the revelation that benefits would be cut, the USGA had signed two new deep-pocketed corporate sponsors. Second, less than a year before rumors of the cuts reached Golf House staff, news media had revealed that the USGA had acquired time on a private jet for use by the president and the executive committee.
Uh guys, it was here. Quibbling, I know. Continue...
On Feb. 6 USGA staffers were advised of the benefit cuts via memo (a copy of which was obtained by Golf World). The cuts, their timing and the manner in which they were presented stunned and angered employees. "The way it was couched to us, they were basically taking something away without really telling [us] what was going to happen," says one USGA veteran with college-aged children. "A lot of people here felt that wasn't fair."
In an unusual move, Driver flew to Far Hills to quell concerns. "The staff had not been given what I call the ‘three-legged stool,' and I wanted to explain to them the process," says Driver.Please, would some inkslinger at Oakmont please ask Driver to flesh out that metaphor.
Outside observers were flabbergasted. "Walter Driver [saying] in his address we've made changes to help us improve our potential for getting quality staffers in the future--when in fact they were cutting benefits--was the ultimate corporate act: Say one thing and do another," says Shackelford, who frequently posts provocative and acerbic comment on his blog. "For me that was the all-time low, really."
Oh, sorry. Believe it or not, I am building to a point here...
Before Driver took over, longstanding USGA tradition called for executive committee members to pay their own travel expenses for association business. Once disclosed, the idea of a USGA-funded private jet for executive committee use sent shockwaves through a century-old volunteer ethos. One former president who asked not to be identified says, "I have been away from the institution for a long time. Priorities and demands change. For example, a jet for executive-committee use would have been unheard of in my time."
Driver has been demonized as the procurer and chief beneficiary of the plane when, in fact, he inherited the lease from Fred Ridley's presidency. The deal with Citation Shares was made, ironically, at the suggestion of the past presidents. Driver is unruffled by the controversy. He considers the plane a tool, one that has allowed him to expand his USGA schedule. "If people don't think it's appropriate," he says, "either I or the next president simply won't do those things."
Those things? Would those be boring speeches that really do nothing to impact any lives? Okay, sometimes I am acerbic.
Anyway, here's my question. If the past president's pushed this jet on Ridley and Driver (joined at the hip, something Millard left out), and Driver truly cared about the future health (no pun) of the USGA and its staff, wouldn't he have said "no thanks, save the hundreds of thousands of dollars you'll lavish on me with this jet for a better cause."
Now, I know it's from page 291 of the CEO playbook to blame the board for those excessive stock options and perks while your workers are taking pay and benefit cuts, but just an FYI for Walter Driver, there are still some CEO's who actually commit acts of charity for the good of the team:
[Gerald] Grinstein, who has led the USA's No. 3 airline since January 2004, said he wants Delta instead to invest what he would have gotten in post-bankruptcy bonuses, to be used for scholarships and emergency hardship assistance for Delta employees, families and retirees. Under a post-bankruptcy compensation plan unveiled Monday, Grinstein could have been expected to net about $10 million, including such bonuses, over about three years.
Now that's my kind of "change agent."
That's from a 16-year-old who is playing in this week's U.S. Open. Lorne Rubenstein has the story of Richard Lee, Canadian-born runner-up in last year's U.S. Junior Amateur and playing in his final event as an amateur.
Good times in Memphis...
John Daly, who lives on the course where he is playing in the Stanford St. Jude Championship, reported to authorities that his wife attempted to stab him with a steak knife early Friday, authorities said.
Daly, 41, called police about 6 a.m. on Friday to report the alleged assault, Shelby County Sheriff's department spokesman Steve Shular said.
IN-PROGRESS SCORES: Updates from St. Jude Championship
When deputies arrived, she and the couple's children were not there. Deputies could not find the knife he claimed she used.
Red marks could be seen on both of Daly's cheeks as his warmed up on the course Friday afternoon. Play had been delayed by weather.
It will be Daly's decision whether to press charges, Shular said. No charges had been filed Friday afternoon.
* Daly comments:
"While I slept at home last night, I was the victim of an assault by my wife," Daly said.
"This morning, I filed a complaint with the Shelby County Sheriff's Office. They are investigating, and I'll have no further comment on the matter while they pursue their investigation.
"My only concern at this point is for the safety of my children and myself, and we are working closely with local authorities and PGA Tour security officials to assure appropriate safeguards."
Last year there were no definitive winners in the USGA's annual, unofficial $#@%! pairing. Still, here are the 2007 groupings. Your nominations for that pairing of three jovial, sunny, truly beloved contestants.
Thursday (June 14), hole #1; Friday (June 15), hole #10
7:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Ken Duke, Palm City, Fla.; Sam Walker, England; Johnson Wagner, Charlotte, N.C.
7:11 a.m. - 12:41 p.m. - Craig Kanada, The Woodlands, Texas; Jon Mills, Canada; Tom Gillis, Oxford, Mich.
7:22 a.m. - 12:52 p.m. - Allen Doyle, La Grange, Ga.; Olin Browne, Tequesta, Fla.; Tom Byrum, Richmond, Texas
7:33 a.m. - 1:03 p.m. - Nick Dougherty, England; A-Trip Kuehne, Dallas, Texas; Ricky Barnes, Scottsdale, Ariz.
7:44 a.m. - 1:14 p.m. - Ryuji Imada, Japan; Vaughn Taylor, Augusta, Ga.; Michael Campbell, New Zealand
7:55 a.m. - 1:25 p.m. - Jose Maria Olazabal, Spain; Sergio Garcia, Spain; Pablo Martin, Spain
8:06 a.m. - 1:36 p.m. - Tiger Woods, Windermere, Fla.; A-Richie Ramsay, Scotland; Geoff Ogilvy, Australia
8:17 a.m. - 1:47 p.m. - Justin Leonard, Dallas, Texas; Rory Sabbatini, South Africa; Jerry Kelly, Madison, Wis.
8:28 a.m. - 1:58 p.m. - Retief Goosen, South Africa; Luke Donald, England; Angel Cabrera, Argentina
8:39 a.m. - 2:09 p.m. - Bob Estes, Austin, Texas; Johan Edfors, Sweden; Ryan Palmer, Amarillo, Texas
8:50 a.m. - 2:20 p.m. - Woody Austin, Derby, Kan.; Mathew Goggin, Australia; Pat Perez, Scottsdale, Ariz.
9:01 a.m. - 2:31 p.m. - Jason Allen, Pueblo, Colo.; Mike Small, Champaign, Ill.; Geoffrey Sisk, Marshfield, Mass.
9:12 a.m. - 2:42 p.m. - Michael Berg, Detroit Lakes, Minn.; A-Jason Kokrak, Warren, Ohio; Kyle Dobbs, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Thursday (June 14), hole #10; Friday (June 15), hole #1
7:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Michael Putnam, Tacoma, Wash.; A-Rhys Davies, Wales; Lee Williams, Alexander City, Ala.
7:11 a.m. - 12:41 p.m. - Boo Weekley, Milton, Fla.; Nobuhiro Masuda, Japan; Bubba Watson, Bagdad, Fla.
7:22 a.m. - 12:52 p.m. - A-John Kelly, Saint Louis, Mo.; Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland; Kirk Triplett, Scottsdale, Ariz.
7:33 a.m. - 1:03 p.m. - Colin Montgomerie, Scotland; Chris DiMarco, Orlando, Fla.; Tim Clark, South Africa
7:44 a.m. - 1:14 p.m. - Ernie Els, South Africa; Zach Johnson, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Padraig Harrington, Ireland
7:55 a.m. - 1:25 p.m. - Thomas Bjorn, Denmark; Ben Curtis, Stow, Ohio; Stephen Ames, Canada
8:06 a.m. - 1:36 p.m. - K.J. Choi, Korea; David Toms, Shreveport, La.; Mike Weir, Canada
8:17 a.m. - 1:47 p.m. - Stuart Appleby, Australia; Scott Verplank, Edmond, Okla.; Robert Allenby, Australia
8:28 a.m. - 1:58 p.m. - Todd Hamilton, Westlake, Texas; John Rollins, Richmond, Va.; Anders Hansen, Denmark
8:39 a.m. - 2:09 p.m. - Niclas Fasth, Sweden; Arron Oberholser, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Nathan Green, Australia
8:50 a.m. - 2:20 p.m. - Nick Watney, Fresno, Calif.; Peter Hanson, Sweden; Harrison Frazar, Dallas, Texas
9:01 a.m. - 2:31 p.m. - A-Philip Pettitt Jr, Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Warren Pineo, Palm Desert, Calif.; John Koskinen, Baraga, Mich.
9:12 a.m. - 2:42 p.m. - Andy Matthews, Grand Rapids, Mich.; A-Jeff Golden, Winter Park, Fla.; Michael Block, Aliso Viejo, Calif.
Thursday (June 14), hole #1; Friday (June 15), hole #10
12:30 p.m. - 7:00 a.m. - Jeff Brehaut, Los Altos, Calif.; Andrew Buckle, Australia; Darron Stiles, Pinehurst, N.C.
12:41 p.m. - 7:11 a.m. - Martin Laird, Scotland; A-Alex Prugh, Spokane, Wash.; Todd Fischer, Pleasanton, Calif.
12:52 p.m. - 7:22 a.m. - Joe Durant, Pensacola, Fla.; Steve Stricker, Madison, Wis.; Joey Sindelar, Horseheads, N.Y.
1:03 p.m. - 7:33 a.m. - Trevor Immelman, South Africa; Stewart Cink, Duluth, Ga.; Paul Casey, England
1:14 p.m. - 7:44 a.m. - Vijay Singh, Fiji; Davis Love III, Sea Island, Ga.; Henrik Stenson, Sweden
1:25 p.m. - 7:55 a.m. - Jeff Sluman, Hinsdale, Ill.; Fred Funk, Ponte Vedra, Fla.; Toru Taniguchi, Japan
1:36 p.m. - 8:06 a.m. - Camilo Villegas, Colombia; Lucas Glover, Greenville, S.C.; Aaron Baddeley, Australia
1:47 p.m. - 8:17 a.m. - David Howell, England; J.J. Henry, Fort Worth, Texas; Rod Pampling, Australia
1:58 p.m. - 8:28 a.m. - Lee Westwood, England; Chad Campbell, Andrews, Texas; Carl Pettersson, Sweden
2:09 p.m. - 8:39 a.m. - Brett Quigley, Barrington, R.I.; Anthony Wall, England; Hunter Mahan, Plano, Texas
2:20 p.m. - 8:50 a.m. - Kevin Sutherland, Sacramento, Calif.; Soren Kjeldsen, Denmark; Eric Axley, Knoxville, Tenn.
2:31 p.m. - 9:01 a.m. - Joe Daley, Scottsdale, Ariz.; A-Martin Ureta, Chile; Miguel Rodriguez, Argentina
2:42 p.m. - 9:12 a.m. - A-Chris Condello, Heathrow, Fla.; Adam Speirs, Canada; Jacob Rogers, Tucson, Ariz.
Thursday (June 14), hole #10; Friday (June 15), hole #1
12:30 p.m. - 7:00 a.m. - Jason Dufner, Auburn, Ala.; Darren Fichardt, South Africa; Chris Stroud, Sea Island, Ga.
12:41 p.m. - 7:11 a.m. - Brandt Snedeker, Nashville, Tenn.; Christian Cevaer, France; Steve Marino, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
12:52 p.m. - 7:22 a.m. - Shaun Micheel, Germantown, Tenn.; Charl Schwartzel, South Africa; Tom Pernice Jr, Murietta, Calif.
1:03 p.m. - 7:33 a.m. - Nick O'Hern, Australia; Brett Wetterich, Jupiter, Fla.; Robert Karlsson, Sweden
1:14 p.m. - 7:44 a.m. - Kaname Yokoo, Japan; Paul Goydos, Dove Canyon, Calif.; Kenneth Ferrie, England
1:25 p.m. - 7:55 a.m. - Ian Poulter, England; Ryan Moore, Puyallup, Wash.; Shingo Katayama, Japan
1:36 p.m. - 8:06 a.m. - Phil Mickelson, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.; Adam Scott, Australia; Jim Furyk, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
1:47 p.m. - 8:17 a.m. - Lee Janzen, Orlando, Fla.; Steve Elkington, Australia; Rich Beem, Austin, Texas
1:58 p.m. - 8:28 a.m. - Charles Howell, Orlando, Fla.; Justin Rose, England; Sean O'Hair, West Chester, Pa.
2:09 p.m. - 8:39 a.m. - Anthony Kim, Dallas, Texas; Jeev Milkha Singh, India; Dean Wilson, Kaneohe, Hawaii
2:20 p.m. - 8:50 a.m. - Tim Petrovic, Tampa, Fla.; Marcus Fraser, Australia; Tripp Isenhour, Orlando, Fla.
2:31 p.m. - 9:01 a.m. - D.J. Brigman, Albuquerque, N.M.; A-Richard Lee, Chandler, Ariz.; George McNeill, Ft Myers, Fla.
2:42 p.m. - 9:12 a.m. - Frank Bensel, Purchase, N.Y.; Todd Rossetti, Dallas, Texas; A-Mark Harrell, Hazlehurst, Ga.
In Chris Millard's Golf World cover story, the banning of U-grooves comes up.
You remember that right?
The guys are bombing it out there insane distances because the USGA believes the guys think they can spin it out of the light rough with today's grooves better than they can from the fairway (based on a field study of nine players). And because the drive distances are so eye-opening, the USGA wants to stop this embarrassing practice that makes what is left of today's fairways less meaningful.
By 2009, anyone wanting to play a competitive event under USGA rules will have to buy new clubs with conforming grooves.
Here's what USGA President Walter Driver tells Millard:
Oddly, the impetus for the grooves proposal was the state of play on tour, a very small but highly visible slice of the American golf community. "The fact that really stimulated this," said Driver, "is that during the last several years there is no correlation at all between fairways hit and money won on the PGA Tour. Clearly, you can hit it anywhere. Part of that is the grooves. We think we can demand more skill [by] making you drive the ball in play."
Now because of this, a whole bunch of people are going to have to go out and replace their clubs (which is why other than Ping, the reaction from the equipment industry has been and will continue to be concerned silence).
Yet, earlier in the story, Millard looks at the COR debate and Driver explains why the USGA rolled over:
If the view that the USGA should have fought to the death on COR can be described as idealistic, Driver's view is correspondingly pragmatic. He explains that the clubs in question were manufactured and bought in good faith and had earned the USGA's seal of approval. If the USGA had gone back even further on COR, he says, "I don't know whether we would have had the resources to buy all those clubs or to compensate the manufacturers for relying on the letters that we sent out.
So my question for Walter is, why aren't you offering to buy back all of these u-grooved irons that were manufactured and bought in good faith and had earned the USGA's seal of approval?
The Brand Lady made a rare press center appearance to try and put out the various fires started by Michelle Wie's entourage last week.
CAROLYN BIVENS: I'm going to make a fairly brief opening statement and I will take a few questions, and I'll outline some of the things that we can and can't talk about.She's baaaccckkkk!
I want to go back to last Thursday and the round in Charleston at River Town. Thursday morning, actually, beginning with the fifth hole that Michelle played, which was the 14th, there began to circulate all kind of rumors, innuendos and questions about a potential ruling, or lack thereof. There was a lot of things swirling around the media center.And it's good to see she's been brushing up on her English.
At this point, she rambles on about the advice ruling, which isn't why we're here, is it? Now, the 88 stuff...
The 88 rule only came in to effect by the time that Michelle had finished what would have been her 10th or 11th hole and shot the 10.
The Wie camp asked questions about the rules and the regulations, and we did as we do every week, and as we had done earlier that day for her playing partners and for others out in the field; we answered the questions regarding the rules and the regulations. At no time did anyone from the LPGA make any suggestion that Michelle should come off of the course.
I see. And, does this mean Mr. Higgs was less than truthful about his consultations "for no particular reason" with Mr. Nared? Oh I'm sorry, continue...
The one thing that I will not go into is any of the conversation that took place with Mr. Wie, Greg Nared and myself.
Oh. Well, let's see what the slingers ask.
Q. How do you think the conversation went without getting into details? Did he accept what you had to say; not what was said but just the tone of it.
CAROLYN BIVENS: I'm not going to -- I'm not going to discuss it.
Hey, you tried.
Q. Do you ever thoughts on the 88 rule and whether that still need to be in existence?
CAROLYN BIVENS: I really don't.
I'm not the expert on the rules. It's something that our executive committee will look at. What we generally do is at the end of the year we take two or three days in what's called think tank and the members of the executive committee, of which Annika is a member, get into some of the meatier issues that we really can't deal with during the playing year. And we figure out what needs to be changed, what needs to improve, what needs to be added for the following year.
Oh it's toast. As it should be.
Q. And as a lot of these storylines focus around various aspects of conduct with a 17-year-old, is there anything that you noticed at all leading into last week that raised any red flags; that got your attention that "I need to kind of pay attention to this?"
CAROLYN BIVENS: The question was, was there any indication before leading into last week that maybe was a red flag or something that needed to be paid attention to.
Doug, there really hasn't been. There really hasn't been.
Nope, no red flags here!