Doug Ferguson looks at this year's "rigorous" majors and wonders what exactly that means. This part was particularly fun:
Jim Hyler, head of the championship committee at the USGA, preached all week at Oakmont that the mission was to create a "rigorous test" at the U.S. Open, but he offered a peculiar defense when 35 players failed to break 80 in the second round, and someone suggested the USGA again had gone over the top.Oh Justin, really, they aren't fixated on par. They only break out the '96 Chateau Lafite Rothschild if the winning score is +8 or higher. Special occasions only.
"The players' scores mean nothing to us," he said. "Absolutely nothing."
But if that's the case, how does he know the test has been rigorous?
"We're not performing in front of judges," Justin Leonard said. "They don't rate every shot. How can you not look at scores?"
The Royal & Ancient paid more attention to the players' reactions than their scores, and chief executive Peter Dawson conceded that Carnoustie was too extreme in 1999. Asked if the R&A regretted how the course was set up, he replied, "I think so."
"To be honest, we regard player reaction as very important," Dawson said. "The reaction there was clearly more negative than we would liked to have seen."
What to expect this time?
"We are not seeking carnage," Dawson said. "We're seeking an arena where the players can display their skills to the best effect."
As usually, the R&A's head man had to offset his sound thinking with the ridiculous:
"The key part of the game of golf is to have an element of unfairness and to be able to handle it when it happens to you," Dawson said. "If everything was totally fair, it would be dull."
You see Peter, that's Mother Nature's job, perhaps with the occasional assist from a funny bounce. The bad breaks from silly fairway contours, knee high rough and bad hole locations? That's a different deal. It's called contrived. And usually the people doing the contriving are the same ones who obsess about how winning scores might reflet on themselves.