In John Garrity's "Rough Justice" story (SI subscription required) that recaps the setup, he talks to "Open Doctor" Rees Jones, who apparently never found time to explain to Garrity that he is not the doctor of Winged Foot!
"The pros miss their shots right or left, not short or long," golf architect Rees Jones told me during the third round, "and this is one of the hardest courses in the world to recover from the sides." Jones, who stretched the A.W. Tillinghast-designed West course by 300 yards in preparation for this year's Open, laughed when I asked if he wanted credit for some of the hard-to-reach hole locations. "This may be one of the few courses where hole locations don't matter," he responded. "You could put the hole in the middle of the green, and the players still couldn't get close."That must be news to Tom Fazio! Or wait, Tom Marzolf, the real visionary behind the doctoring.
The golfers must have understood that, because there wasn't a lot of grousing at Winged Foot. "There's been some conversation about greens being a bit bumpy," USGA president Walter Driver acknowledged during a Wednesday-morning press conference.
"These are poa annua greens, and given the weather and the softness, that's not to be unexpected." Television closeups showed fast-moving putts bouncing and slow-moving putts zigging when you expected them to zag. Woods called the greens "slow and bumpy." Darren Clarke, when asked if they were the worst major-championship greens he had ever encountered, said, "Yes, comfortably."
That was music to the ears of Davis, Jones and Greytok. The USGA man, the course doctor and the greenkeeper spent most of Sunday watching their greens bake in 90° heat, but the poa putting surfaces -- though brown and crusty in spots -- held up. It was the golfers who wilted.
"Winged Foot was Winged Foot," Davis summed up, accepting handshakes and backslaps in the clubhouse. "I can think of a few minor things we might have done differently, but the course was wonderful. For me it was fun to sit back and watch it happen."