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Writing And Videos

Once you've had 'em, you've got 'em."  HENRY LONGHURST on the yips




Saturday U.S. Open Clippings: Wristy Business

2007usopen_50.gifOakmont is separating the men from the the press room.

Nice to see some lively reporting filed Friday night, starting with John Huggan's game story:

Some, of course, will love that the pampered millionaires have been humbled yet again by the gray-haired and blue-blooded blazer brigade, but for every one of those deriving vicarious pleasure from such a spectacle there will surely be ten real golfers squirming at just what the game at the highest level has become in the 21st century.

Still, for all that, the championship continues to breathe beneath the blanket of long grass that all but covers the magnificent Oakmont course. And, as such, there is a competition to talk about, one that is led by perhaps the two longest hitters in the field, a man called Angel (Cabrera) on level par, with another named Bubba (Watson) one shot back. Ames, Justin Rose, Niclas Fasth and Aaron Baddeley are two over par and two shots off the pace.

Angel and Bubba? Justin and Aaron? Niclas? Whatever happened to good old golf names like Arnie and Jack? Gone the way of persimmon apparently.
Fast forward...
Indeed, almost every hole was a bit of a struggle for Woods, his two birdies more than swallowed up by the six bogeys that littered his card. But, for all that, he claimed to be enjoying himself.

"The U.S. Open is a fun challenge," he claimed, convincing no one in the process. "It's always going to be tough and you have to grind away. That's the fun part of it; it's just so different from any other tournament we ever play in."

And for that at least, we must all be grateful.
188912.jpgDerek Lawrenson on Paul Casey's brilliant 66:
So call off any planned debate right now about the round of the year. We have just witnessed it, complete with a dazzling array of statistics.

On the narrowest fairways possible without risking the accusation of unfairness, Casey missed only one; on the hardest greens by miles anywhere in the world, he had 10 single putts, and only 26 in all.

We should have no fear, therefore, in placing it alongside Monty’s fabled 65 in the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional as the best round played by a British player in this event since Tony Jacklin became the last one to win it in 1970.

"Without a doubt, it is the best round I have ever played," said Casey. "This is the toughest course I have seen and I feel very lucky to walk off with a 66."

Golfweek's Jeff Rude talks to Paul Goydos about the 66:
“Johnny, are you listening, I think that’s better than your score -- by a lot,” said opinionated journeyman professional Paul Goydos, the former inner-city schoolteacher who wins once every decade or so on the PGA Tour. “That’s stunning. I don’t get it. There’s just no way. I want to know what hole he skipped.”

Lawrence Donegan reporting for The Guardian on the setup:

Or to put it another way, it quickly became clear yesterday that the USGA had once again turned its annual golf tournament into a festival of indignity, or a fearsome fiesta of double-bogeys, or indeed a farce. To the wrist-cracking rough and bowling-alley greens that marked day one, the organisers added murderous pin positions, and Mother Nature's mischievous nephew threw in a nasty little breeze. The result was as predictable as it was relentless. Leaderboards quickly became engulfed in the blue of bogeys, leaving the occasional red birdie looking like a distress beacon flickering against the perfect golfing storm.

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review breaks down stats from round 2. 

Mr. Negative Peter Kostis, who Thursday predicted the 36-hole lead would be even par and the cut at +10, was his usual curmudgeonly self over at

Oakmont is ...  "brutally hard, but I'm not sure if Oakmont is truly a great test of golf. I'm sorry, but I don't think hard automatically means great. Do you have any idea what the following players have in common: Tim Clark, Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington, Nick O'Hern, Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey, Zach Johnson, K.J. Choi, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson and 18 other guys? They are the 28 players who did not score a birdie on Thursday. If competitors are forced to play defensively all the time, that's not a great setup. I think there must be a blend of holes where you can make birdie with good shots and bogeys with bad shots."

Thomas Bonk takes us through Tiger's day from beginning to end.

Oh and Tiger had this to say after the round:

TIGER WOODS: It's close. It's right on the edge, I think. The first green, that was -- thank God I have spikes on, because I think it would have slipped right off the back.

Lorne Rubenstein notes Stephen Ames and Mike Weir's excellent play and offers this from Weir:

After he heard that Phil Mickelson, for one, had described the rough as "dangerous," Weir said he had the sort of shot there where he could have done some physical damage to himself.

"You could see somebody injuring himself trying to hit some kind of creative shot," Weir said, adding he was trying a shot in practice from the rough and had to ice his wrist down after his session.

Fast forward...

Many players believe the USGA has gone overboard with the rough this year. "Some guys, with the [club] speed they get, they could hurt themselves," Ben Curtis said.

But it's not easy for anybody to know how to challenge the best players these days, because they hit the ball so far. The USGA along with the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews long ago dropped the ball in not, well, controlling how far the ball can go. Now, they're left with pushing courses to the edge, and, sometimes, over the edge.

Even that's okay, and understandable. But dangerous?

Ames said a player usually can tell when trying a shot will cause an injury. But what if he had to pull off a shot that could potentially win the championship for him? What if trying the shot could cause a serious injury?

"I'll just hack it out," Ames said. "Taking that opportunity to end my career? I won't do that."

More disheartening was news that 16-year-old Richard Lee also was injured, making him the second player to withdraw because of a wrist injury.

The youngest player in the field didn't make the cut at the U.S. Open. He didn't even make it to the end of his second round. Richard Lee withdrew after 13 holes Friday with a wrist injury. The 16-year-old was 11 over for the day, 20 over for the tournament when he stopped.

``I am disappointed,'' he said. ``But I'm still happy that I came here this week to this wonderful golf course, Oakmont. A lot of history to this course. It's an honor that I played here.''

Lee was trying to chip out of the rough beside the green on the par-4 11th when he tweaked his right wrist.

``I took a full swing at it because it was all the way down there,'' he said. ``After that shot, I was like, `Whoa, what happened to my wrist?' I was just trying to concentrate, but I couldn't. There was a lot of pain.''

Lee played the 12th and 13th holes and then withdrew.

Tim Dahlberg says the guys are whining too much considering it's the US Open and that they have to grin and bear it. Of course if it goes over the top, Dahlberg will return to his usual eloquent self and join the chorus.

Dan Gigler on the Post-Gazette blog deals with a ridiculous question asked of Jim Furyk.

One reporter asked Jim Furyk if the extreme difficulty of the course at Oakmont somehow mirrored the gritty "blue collar" image of Pittsburgh. Uhhh ??? sure. That's a bit of a reach, don't you think? Oakmont is a Pittsburgh treasure and we should be proud that our city is for this week, the epicenter of the sports world, but let's be honest here: it's a golf course on a country club, that probably has close to a six-figure initiation fee, and an annual membership fee in the range of most "blue collar" workers salaries. I don't think Joe Magarac played Oakmont very much.

Mark Soltau talks to Jeff Brehaut, all around good guy who makes the cut in his first major in 21 years as a professional.

The third round pairings are here, with the leaders going off at 3:15 EST. Considering it took everyone around 5:15 today, hard to imagine the boys finishing tomorrow's round before NBC's planned sign-off time.

And finally, a Simon Bruty image for of Geoff Ogilvy that the opponent of bathing a course in high rough surely won't be using for his autobiography cover...



U.S. Open Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 2

Tough to find pictures capturing the flavor of the event and scene, but this one on by Sam Greenwood seemed fitting...



Round 2 Course Stats

I've circled a few of the more eye-opening course stats, including the par-5 12th playing as the second toughest hole, the 9th's excessive cost of rough, the 8th's paltry 15.4% hitting the green in regulation and to keep in mind Sunday, only 37.4% hitting the 18th fairway today.

(click to enlarge)


"I think once a year the golf world, and maybe even the players, to a degree, they want to feel like they've been in a fistfight."

Rich Lerner interviewed David Fay and Golf Channel aired it during their Friday night post game show. A few highlights from the spinmaster:

I think once a year the golf world, and maybe even the players, to a degree, they want to feel like they've been in a fistfight.

Uh, except in this one you take away their driver with silly fairway widths and rough, which is like fighting with your hands tied behind you back.

Is there an athletic competition that's conducted nowadays at the collegiate level or above, that does not have some sort of commercial involvement? There are a lot of things that I sometimes scratch my  head about, but this passion about advertising and about what the USGA has done in this area and how it reflects a fundamental sea change, I just don't see it.

See, everyone else is sold out, so we're just keeping up!

And this, commenting on player study results of the USGA's groove study:

All of them had the belief, that when we changed to square grooves, the skill required to play this game at the highest level, that the grooves were acting too much like radial tires. That it was too easy to control the ball from rough. And that's really what's driving it.

But the ability to hit the ball 350 yards? Sure that had nothing to do with it!  


A Wonderful Test of Golf?

That's what Mark Rolfing just called Oakmont through two rounds. Thankfully, Frank Nobilo was there to restore some sanity.

Is this a wonderful test of golf?

To put it another way, Ernie Els just told Golf Channel's Rich Lerner that Oakmont is still fair because the "fairways are still holding." Mike Davis said leading into the tournament that he had concerns about the fairways getting too fast.

Is it a sign of a reasonable setup when the fairways must hold a shot for the game to be played?


"You know, I'm hitting 5- and 6-irons on some of the par-4s off the tee."

Bubba Watson's post second round comments would seem to reinforce Ogilvy's comments that the US Open does not in fact aid the short, straight hitter...
Q. Some players have said this week that this course does not put a premium on length. How has your length been an advantage these two days for you?

BUBBA WATSON: You know, I'm hitting 5- and 6-irons on some of the par-4s off the tee. That's a little bit easier to hit than somebody hitting a 3-iron or 2-iron or 3-wood or 5-wood.

The hole that everybody has been talking about, No. 8, I'm hitting 3-iron both days and not having a problem with it. So, I mean, you could say it's helping me a little bit. Just I can hit shorter clubs into some of these holes and maybe hit it a little bit higher to stop it. Just happy to hit 'em straight right now.

"Q. Do you see the USGA in some ways as kind of the last guardian of the game?"

Here's a beautiful post round exchange between Tom Pernice and a scribbler...

Q. Do you see the USGA in some ways as kind of the last guardian of the game? There's a struggle between the modern power player and the old guard, and I know they feel as though the emphasis on hitting fairways has been lessened at the professional level. Do you see them as the last sort of guardian and do you agree with that position?

Yes, the last guardian would use a golf course to mask increased driving distances!  Oh Tom, your answer...

TOM PERNICE, JR.: Well, it's almost Oakmont. I don't know that it's USGA. Their fairways average 26 or 27 yards wide here with probably the most severe bunkering of any course you'll ever play, so let alone the rough. The fairway bunkering and 28-yard wide fairways, I'm a firm believer if the tour average was the same, you'd see some similarities.
I think it's Oakmont. What they are notorious for is building a hard golf course and having their golf course play hard. They got it there. And obviously the USGA has come in and thickened the rough, which is another added feature. It would still be a difficult golf course if the conditions were like this and firm and fast without the thick rough.But I think the narrowing of the fairways and the very difficult fairway bunkers in itself is doing it, not so much the USGA. I think the USGA is trying to set the golf course up where you can play it, but it's tough to play. You have a lot of contouring and slope on the fairways and it makes it difficult, 26, 27 yards wide.

Q. Gives guys a fighting chance versus guys who can put it out there at 320?

Right. Again, use the golf course to regulate equipment. I love this guy! How about netting at 320 to stop those buggers!

TOM PERNICE, JR.: No question it's a positioning golf course. You have to maneuver the ball, hit 3-wood, 5-woods, 2-irons where you can and where you need to and you need a specific strategy and more importantly you have to have control of the golf ball.

"Handed the keys to a brand new Lexus"

The inevitable first Lexus plug for the U.S. Open's new presenting sponsor came not from Lexus pitchman Johnny Miller, but during a Jimmy Roberts essay on qualifiers this week. But it was so subtle. And yes, these are NBC images, not a commercial!

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)


Putting Phil's Frustration Into Perspective

I suppose because it's a nuanced issue that would actually require some thought and consideration, a lot of people are going to shrug off Phil Mickelson's rough-induced-wrist-injury comments both on Golf Channel Wednesday night and after his round today.

There was the irony (or ignorance?) of the injury-plagued Johnny Miller blowing off Phil's remarks as the product of mistaken overpracticing. There was also the remainder of the NBC crew chiming in with a similar attitude, disregarding the fact David Howell also pulled out this week with a rough-induced injury. They also suggested this is typical of the U.S. Open, but is it?

Sure, like other years, this rough is a man-made hazard harvested to keep scores in check at apparently any cost.

But don't forget that the USGA's Mike Davis ordered that the rough cut be lowered to a unprecedented low of 2 3/4 inches prior to this week because it was so dense. There were plenty of other reports leading into the event about how unusually thick the grass was.

It's one thing for Mother Nature to leave a course so lush that such injuries are possible, but we know that the Oakmont mentality is in love with the idea of making the player suffer with over-the-top conditions.

So I find it shocking that there seems to be so little consideration that just maybe Phil has a legitimate point about the efforts to grow such dense rough and the possible impact on the players.


"I wasn't out there practicing out of the rough from the fairway, I was practicing around the greens"

Mickelson, after the second round, in spite of a rally kill attempt...

Q. The injury and not be being able to prepare the way you wanted to and not being able to practice the way you wanted to?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it's disappointing to dream as a kid about winning the U.S. Open and spend all this time getting ready for it and have the course setup, injury, you know? To think that the end of this tournament -- you're trying to win and hit great shots but you're also trying to not end your career on one shot, which -- or at least suspend it for a while. That's a little disappointing, yeah.

Q. The U.S. Open, as big as it is, is it disappointing the way they decide to go, the way they went the last few years?

PHIL MICKELSON: That's not for me to say. I know they're doing the best they can, they are. They're doing the best they can -- they're doing all they can.
Rally kill here...and then... 

Q. Would you reevaluate your preparation for the majors?

PHIL MICKELSON: Absolutely, I'm going to have to change things. This really was dangerous doing what I did because the rough was twice as long and I thought that they may play it like that, and certainly with this liquid fertilizer and these new machines that make the grass suck straight up it absolutely is dangerous.

The first practice round on Monday, Jim Weathers had 6 other appointments, people hurting their ribs, their back, their wrists, it's dangerous, it really is. You've got 5 or 6-inch rough and you can only get a wedge in there, what good is it to practice?

Q. You're going to have to hit a high-lot of, club, right?

PHIL MICKELSON: I wasn't out there practicing out of the rough from the fairway, I was practicing around the greens so those are shots everybody is going to have.


Midday Carnage Update

Andy North and Mike Tirico just had a good laugh about their 2:47 over-under bet on when no one would be left under par. Nick Dougherty fell to even par at 2:48! is working swimmingly today, with all the stats in full view including for the first time (I believe), we can see the dreaded "cost of rough" stat. Check out No. 9's cost of rough today and the GIR's on No. 12!




"Right now it's set up the way we want it."

2007usopen_50.gifAt midday Friday, it sure sounds like the announcers are sensing that conditions are teetering on the edge.

Chris Berman mentioned three times that the maintenance staff had a look in their eyes and made comments yesterday evening that implied they were going to ratcheted things up. He didn't seem to mention it with great admiration by the third time as scores were sky rocketing.

USGA Executive Director David Fay was called in at around 12:30 to talk about things.

"Just to clarify, the golf course conditions, the conditions irrespective of the wind, are back to where they were during the practice rounds. That's the setting."
He noted that everything maintenance wise is "done under tight controls."

"Right now it's set up the way we want it."

 Key words: right now.

Meanwhile one announcer thought all was okay.

Andy North: "It's definitely fair." "Terrific US Open golf."


Bandon, Subsidies and The Reservoir

subsidy_slide3.jpgDavid Cay Johnson pens a pair of New York Times Business section stories, one looking at government subsidies for real estate projects, private jet use and Bandon's airport expansion.

A second story considers the plight of Scott Cook, who will be impacted by a reservoir project that will provide more water for the town and future Bandon courses.


Trump National Fresno?

runn.jpgYes, that's how desperate The Donald is to get in bed with the PGA Tour.

Scott Hamilton talks to Trump about his possible interest in taking over the failed Running Horse project and securing a "Fall Finish" event.

“I build real large buildings and we’ve had some great success in golf,” Trump said. “But I don’t want to be a Club Corp – I just want to have great courses. . . . I’m only looking to do the really prestigious courses. I think we could make (Running Horse) that, but it’s still got a long way to go."


Thursday U.S. Open Clippings: They Finished!

2007usopen_50.gifI missed most of the afternoon but did get in front of a television to notice that the Mickelson-Scott-Furyk group wrapped up at 7:08 EST, a swift 5:32 after they teed off.

20070615pdusopen0614d_450.jpgHere is the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac's game storyLawrence Donegan offers the UK angle.

Doug Ferguson (I think) looks at Tiger's solid opening round.

For stats, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review offers numbers from key players as well as the leaders in various categories after day 1, including some course stats.

And because aspires to provide as little substantial information as possible, we'll lean on Ed Patterman who is blogging at Golfobserver for some stats that are I can't seem to find on the official site. 

-- There were only two eagles all day - both of them HOLE OUTS on Par 4's (11 and 14).

-- After 156 Players had played the 477 yard par 4 9th hole, only 3 made birdie. More birdies (4) were made on the 288 par 3 hole.

-- Speaking of which, only 1 out of 3 players hit the 288 Yard Par 3 green in regulation. The stroke average on the hole was 3.539.

-- For the day, 55.9% of all greens were hit in regulation.

-- The field also hit 56.2% of all fairways.

-- The 18th Hole was the most difficult in relation to par, averaging 4.638 strokes.

-- The par 5 4th Hole was the easiest hole, averaging 4.974 strokes.

-- Only two of the Top Ten Players in driving distance are currently in the Top 100 in the tournament standings - Aaron Baddeley (24th) and Jason Dufner (7th),

Robert Dvorchak at the Post-Gazette offers this note...
While the USGA customarily uses yellow flags atop the pins at U.S. Opens, this week red flags adorn the pins. The reason?

Mike Davis, the USGA senior director of rules and competition went to the USGA and requested the change because red is the color Oakmont uses during everyday, regular play.

William Wolfrum noted the web troubles.'s Ken Klavon offers an utterly useless explanation about the web site crash, which means there's a juicy story behind it!
With deepest of regrets, we apologize for various site issues we experienced today. Without getting into great detail, the issues were completely out of our hands. It wouldn't be fair to point fingers and the like.
John Huggan helps us get to know Nick Dougherty better.

B.J. Lisko in the Salem News found the scribblers questioning of players to be uh, lacking. And you think I'm tough!
Tuesday’s press conferences which included Woods, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Johnny Miller and a few others was another exercise in futility. What’s most remarkable about the conferences is how completely clueless and dumfounded the golf media truly is. There are a few exceptions — regulars like Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press, and a few scattered writers for some of the larger golf publications — but the majority are no more than windbags that aren’t even in physical shape enough to walk the course. They sit in the media tent, watch the monitors, then ask third-grade level questions while the pros blankly stare back and try to come up with something resembling an answer to easily some of the dumbest inquiries ever uttered.
He goes on to share real questions and pose appropriately sarcastic answers.

The Irish Independent--that would be from the same country that gave us The K Club as a Ryder Cup venue--does not like the quirkiness of Oakmont's practice green/9th green. Surely there is another practice putting green on the property?
The practice putting green at Oakmont is not up to the standard one expects at a Major Championship.

An extension of Oakmont's ninth green, this practice area is simply inadequate, while crowds of players preparing for their tee times were an obvious distraction to many attempting to finish out the ninth hole yesterday.

Pádraig Harrington, Ernie Els and Graeme McDowell were but three of many who had practicing players working a couple of yards behind them as they lined up their putts at nine yesterday.

The Dubliner missed his birdie attempt as did Els minutes later. Though neither made an issue of it, the situation was utterly surreal.

McDowell later complained that the practice green itself "is really disappointing. I have not been able to get any work done on it at all.

"There is not enough room there at the back of the ninth green to get a feel for these things."

And Simon Bruty's shot of Phil Mickelson pretty much sums up Lefty's day:




"For the first time she came across as a selfcentered, unapologetic brat."

Thanks to reader Mike for finding Dottie Pepper's SI Golf Plus column on Michelle Wie. I think it's safe to say that Dottie will not be hired as Wie's guidance counselor.

 Given a chance to apologize or at least justify the contradictions, Wie reacted defiantly. Instead of becoming the great player and professional that she has shown the potential to become, Michelle has shown disrespect (especially over the last two weeks) for the game and its traditions.

For the first time she came across as a selfcentered, unapologetic brat.

The LPGA could have handled the withdrawal better. Admitting that the tour needs Michelle and the attention she brings is no crime, but not being truthful about the initial conversations surrounding the WD was improper.

The LPGA is not the source of the problem, though. That, sadly, is the greed and short-sightedness of the two people closest to Michelle, the people charged with molding her into a complete, independent and responsible person: B.J. and her mother, Bo.

The Wies used to be open to the media and the golf world in general. Now they operate under a veil of secrecy and deception, even though they are surrounded by good people giving good advice, which they simply ignore.

The fact that it took four months to admit she had a broken left wrist (which happened when Michelle fell while jogging) should tell everyone that there is something horribly wrong with this picture. With multimillion-dollar contracts to consider, there's pressure on the Wies, both for Michelle to get back on the course and to preserve her playing privileges.

But what about the big picture? Kids trip and fall. So what? Sponsors understand that. Contracts can be adjusted. What can't be recovered so easily is a childhood that's not only been tarnished but also stolen.



First Round Comments

2007usopen_50.gifWell I'm heading out and will post later, but so far a pretty uneventful morning. Phil looks dicey to finish his round, which is a shame. Hopefully no one else will get hurt.

In the meantime, feel free to comment away on rounds or stories you see that would be of interest! 


Tiger A Pebble Beach Investor?

In Kenneth Weiss' story on the California Coastal Commission's rejection of the proposed Pebble Beach expansion, he writes:

Ueberroth and other company officials asserted that some development is needed to help Pebble Beach's 130 investors — including Tiger Woods — make a reasonable return, pay for upkeep on the peninsula's famed 17-Mile Drive and meet other expenses.

Is this well known? I don't recall reading this anywhere? 


Leaderboard Not Working?** ***

2007usopen_50.gifI've switched the left column link to's joint board with because the leaderboard has been working sporadically.  

**8:20 PST  Wow, the others were even worse. GolfChannel had Ogilvy through 8 holes when he had played 11, and had him through 3 at the same point.

Meanwhile seems to be working now. 

*** 8:25 - not working again.


Thursday's US Open Clippings: Hail Storm

2007usopen_50.gifAP's Nancy Armour (uh, any relation to Tommy?) reports on Wednesday evening's ugly thunderstorm.

Nearly a half-inch of rain fell during a Wednesday afternoon thunderstorm that also scattered tree limbs and twigs across fairways. But crews were out as soon as the rain stopped, and officials hope the course won't play significantly different Thursday.

Speed of the greens should be the same, said Tim Moraghan, the U.S. Golf Association's agronomist, but firmness could be affected.

"It's not going to be what we planned for," Moraghan said. "Things were moving along quite well (before the storm). We thought we'd have a true, hard test for players on Thursday. The rain has altered this a little bit.

"We're going to try and do everything we can to get the golf course back to where it was before this little rain."

Lorne Rubenstein loves that Oakmont does not try to hide from its neighbors and notes eloquently that the best places in golf embrace their surroundings.

You feel it as soon as you approach the club along Hulton Road, which winds along a slight slope past modest homes and a few lavish, older homes. But nothing shouts at the visitor who approaches Oakmont, which simply emerges out of the neighborhood, adjacent to the Presbyterian Senior Care home.


This feeling should be a part of the game everywhere. The Old Course in St. Andrews is often called the mother of all courses because of the influence it's had on design. It's not even a club as we think of a club on this side of the pond. It's a course, a public course, although most people know that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews has its clubhouse there. The R&A is private, the course is public. It's the mother of the notion that golf is a welcoming game, not an exclusionary one. asks various inkslingers who they like to win the US Open. Plenty of Furyk, Goosen and Tiger picks. Oh and one Martin Laird from John Huggan. Looks like the heat's already gone to someone's head.

E. Michael Johnson takes a fascinating look at what players were using in 1994.

Consider that Ernie Els won that major using a Callaway Big Bertha War Bird driver about half the size of the driver he uses today.

Needless to say, golf equipment was a bit different back then.

At Oakmont that year, Phil Mickelson and Wayne Levi were considered cutting edge with their all-graphite Yonex drivers, as was Hale Irwin for using a set of oversize, cavity-back King Cobra irons. Of course, with 23 players still swinging persimmon drivers, anything remotely out of the ordinary was deemed "out there."

Grant Boone previews the U.S. Open in his own unique TMI-way, but eventually drops this beauty:

Marriage counseling is a lot like a U.S. Open. It has a way of laying you uncomfortably bare but leaving you with a much better idea of who the two of you are and what needs work. Not much fun but ultimately rewarding.

Ron Green Jr. blogs:

Interesting scene on the practice tee Wednesday – Vijay Singh warming up while talking to Chi Chi Rodriguez, who was wearing a black leather jacket despite temperatures in the low 80s.

And just think, he's wearing two hats too!

After hearing Walter Driver urge writers to go check out the tents for the USGA's new presenting sponsors,'s David Shefter remembered who might tamper with his paycheck, plugging blogging an item that will surely earn him a big thank you from USGA CMO Barry Hyde, but probably not a Lexus courtesy car:

I also stopped by the U.S. Open Experience presented by American Express. A very nice set-up with displays from future U.S. Open sites replete with memorabilia from the USGA Museum and videos of past events held at those clubs. You can even test your knowledge with an interactive Rules quiz, and check out a my leaderboard handheld PDA device that keeps you up-to-date with scores during the championship. You can even sign up to become a USGA Member.

According to our USGA folks, more than 11,000 people had gone through the tent over the first two practice-round days. You can only expect those numbers to go way up over the next four days.

Right next door is the Lexus tent, where spectators can pose with a replica of the U.S. Open trophy. Hey, if you can't win the U.S. Open, at least make it look you did. Needless to say, there was a healthy line for that exhibit.

And finally, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Jerry Micco needs to remember that Google is his friend, blogging this:

What was really cool was I walked up the fairway of No. 9, the majestic front-side finishing hole here. It's fairly steep uphill for about 100 yards, then gradually inclines to the large square green. It's neat to walk up over the first hill and see the clubhouse, in its classic green and white, come into view. I can imagine what it will be like for players here tomorrow to do that. Author John Feinstein (channeling Mark Twain) called it "A Great Walk Spoiled." That's often correct.

Uh, not in this case.