U.S. Open Monday Clippings: Angel!

2007usopen_50.gifSo, they made Ernie Els an honorary member at Oakmont. When do you think Angel gets his locker?

Anyway, the game stories first.

Doug Ferguson's AP story, with this note: Woods, a runner-up to Johnson at this year's Masters, played the final 32 holes at Oakmont with only one birdie.

Here's Gerry Dulac's filing in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and Mike Dudurich's account in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

Rick Starr offers a stat breakdown from the Trib Review while there is this collection of quotes on the BBC's web site.

Robert Dvorchak writes about the successful week numbers wise and operationally, with talk of the club's hope of getting another Open soon.

Extensive notes from the Tribune Review can be found here.  And notes from the Post Gazette are here, and include what appears to be the most accurate quoting of Geoff Ogilvy on the Oakmont setup and bunkers.

"If you miss a shot by a yard, it's just a one-shot penalty," he said. "I mean, there's just no chance. It's the complete lack of chance for recovery, which is no fun. You should get penalized for missing a shot, but I don't know if it should be as black and white as it is. I'm frustrated, so it's a bad time to interview a player."

As for the setup, a few writers took notice in their final stories. From Lawrence Donegan's Guardian effort:

But in the midst of a spirit-lifting triumph for the underdog there was also something of a travesty for the game itself as once again the organisers of this historic tournament laid out a course that bordered on farce. It takes some doing to engender sympathy for golf's pampered millionaires but the USGA somehow managed to do exactly that.

And John Huggan filing for Golfobserver:

And so it went on. And on. And on. Especially the lurking. Until finally only Cabrera the Argentine was left, the only man who could stagger/reel/lurch (take your pick) back to the clubhouse on less than six over par.

 We should have seen him coming, too. The last time a major championship venue was so mindlessly submerged by long grass - at Carnoustie in 1999 - Cabrera finished one shot out of the three-man play-off for the claret jug. Clearly, length has its advantages, even when the fairways are but slivers of short grass amidst a sea of rough. Bomb and gouge lives and, guess what, long grass isn't the answer.

 Come to think of it, maybe the USGA should come up with a different way to muzzle the siege guns that are threatening to dominate the game in the 21st century.

Here's an idea. How about we come back to Oakmont next year and play the US Open with no rough at all? None. Take it from me, the winning score won't be much lower if at all - if that is a problem for the USGA. And think of the benefits. There are some delicious angles out there just begging to be used by someone with a bit of imagination and skill.

In other words, let the players decide for themselves where they want to hit their tee-shots rather than dictating to them what is good and what is bad. Make golf at the highest level a test of flair, strategy and decision-making rather than an endless test of execution. Let's put some fun back into the game.

"I hit a couple of good drives today that were a yard off-line," explained defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, who finished in a distant tie for 42nd. "And I made double bogey off both of them. That can't be right, even if that's what we expect when we get here. It's just no fun when we're doing it."

For fun, Scott Michaux floats a similar idea in the Augusta Chronicle. 

Now would Oakmont and the U.S. Open be better served the next time this major rolls around if the rough that chokes the strategic genius of the property were significantly thinned as well?

"I don't think there would be any doubts," said 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy when asked if Oakmont and the tournament would be an even better test without the trademark thick rough that greeted players this week. "There should be rough, but more like the kind they have at Royal Melbourne where you can make a shot out of it. I don't like the automatic one-shot penalty."

That's unfortunately the very nature of U.S. Opens. While the rotation of classic venues is as varied as nationalities of players on the leaderbaord, the USGA inflicts a measure of sameness in all of them. Instead of allowing the unique strategic differences of Pebble Beach or Shinnecock or Oakmont or Pinehurst No. 2 or Winged Foot to establish their own championship tests, the USGA has to make them all conform to its own rigid style.

While eliminating rough altogether would probably be too much of a departure from the USGA course set-up philosophy, toning down the rough would be within reason. The organization has expressed that kind of restraint before at venues such as Pinehurst No. 2 and Shinnecock Hills.

Would the USGA would have the guts to try something so radically different?

"No," said Charles Howell. "They enjoy it way too much. There was a smile on every one of their faces when the leader went over par."

june17_tiger11_600x600.jpgStuart Hall looks at Tiger's runner-up finish and notes this about the bunker shot on 17:

"I hit a nice bunker shot, but unfortunately when I hit it, I could tell it caught a rock on my wedge," he said. "And I heard a ‘cling.’ And when it came out, I was hoping ‘Please, still have the spin on it.’ But it didn’t and it released on through [the green]."

By the way, did you notice that when Frank Nobilo went out to show us Tiger's bunker shot on 17, the footprints and explosion mark were still there? Nobilo also showed us just how awful that rough was left of 17. Great stuff. The Nobilo reporting, that is. Not the rough.

Kenneth Ferrie tells SI's Gary Van Sickle:

"This is the first time I've played a golf course where it didn't rain and the course has gotten softer every round," Ferrie said. "It was like concrete Thursday and Friday. It was softer yesterday and today it was more so.

"It's mind boggling, really. Thursday and Friday you're trying to bounce the ball up onto the greens. Today, I actually had a few shots hit the green and spin back."

The Guardian's Paul Mahoney is skeptical of swing coaches and in particular the Stack and Tilt concept after Sunday's poor round by Aaron Baddeley.

And unbylined Sporting Life story looks at Jim Furyk's decision to go for 17.

"The play I made was the (right) play," he said

"The no-no is to go left. I haven't hit a ball within 20 yards of where that went, so I was shocked to see how far it went. I didn't realize from the tee box I put myself in that poor a position."

Finally, Nancy Armour's AP notes start off with Geoff Ogilvy's remarks on the bunkers and includes this:

Lions and Tiger and oh, my, that really was a bear. The U.S. Open draws golf fans from the animal kingdom as well as the United Kingdom. 

A mother bear and her cub wandered onto No. 7 Sunday morning after play had started, but before any golfers had reached the hole. They roamed around for a few minutes, then jumped back over a fence and disappeared into the woods that line the right side of the par 4.