David Fay, executive director of the USGA, recently spoke at a media day for the 2009 U.S. Women's Open, to be held at Saucon Valley in Bethlehem, Pa. If it seems like they're planning a little too far ahead on that one, it's because they are.
Afterward, I asked Fay a few questions about the U.S. Open. The first: Does the USGA strive to have the winner shoot close to even par?
"We're not fixated on par," Fay demanded. In fact, he seemed a little offended.
OK. How would the USGA react if there was a U.S. Open where the winner shot 20-under par, second place shot 18-under, and someone shooting 10-under finished 17th?
If Fay wasn't offended before, he was now. He paused, searching for words, before saying, "It would be an aberration."
The next question: If the USGA isn't fixated on par, why does it usually take one or two holes that members play as par-5s, and turn them into par-4s for the U.S. Open?
"That's nothing new," Fay said. "We've been doing that for years, since at least the 1950s."
That answered how long it has been done. It didn't answer why. But there would be no more questions, because Fay politely, and conveniently, excused himself.
Tournament golf can be heroic or tragic, a play of forces in which players and spectators alike may experience drama equal to that on any stage. BOBBY JONES