Knowing the scribblers don't like to leave the press tent to chase down a story in even the best of conditions, the R&A chased down poor Jean Van De Velde in between cancer tests do a conference call to relive the 99 Open. The USA Today's Christine Brennan has a decent summary of the call.
Doug Ferguson did venture out in Monday's hideous weather (hopefully in more than his usual attire) to take in Tiger's 6 a.m. practice round.
No one bothered practicing putts or chips around the greens because the green was too soft, and some of them had puddles on the edges. Woods was duly impressed when Pampling hit driver off the deck for his second shot (on a par 4), and doubled over in laughter when Pampling hit a 2-iron to the 176-yard 13th hole that didn’t clear a bunker 150 yards in front of them.
But the joke was on Woods at the 14th, a par 5 at 514 yards known for the Spectacle bunkers some 65 yards in front of the greens that players usually can carry easily. But not on this day.
Woods hit driver in the fairway and hit 2-iron short of the Spectacles, just left in a sparse patch of rough. He swung hard and watched his third shot over the bunkers, and stopped in his tracks when he arrived at the green and found his ball a few yards from the green.
“I didn’t get there,” Woods said incredulously. “With a 4-iron!”
Even more stunning was the yardage he had with that 4-iron – 112 yards to the front, 128 yards to the hole.
The link to that James Corrigan piece I tried to post yesterday did finally start working, and it included this nice bit of from the R&A's Peter Dawson, who seems to be working off the talking points memo that says "blame the warm summer for '99, not the 9-yard wide fairways."
"This is the longest and hardest course the Open is played on," said Dawson, before explaining why it played so much longer and harder the last time. "In 1999 we had horrendous rough, but every course down the east coast of Scotland had horrendous rough that year. There was a freak weather pattern that caused it and sometimes people forgot that when pointing the finger. And, contrary to opinion, there was supposed to be interim rough and the balls weren't supposed to go straight from fairway to the thick stuff. It was just that the interim rough all burnt away."
I think that's a new one actually...the interim rough burnt away!
"I think sometimes it's stretching it when over par is the winning score," he said. "If you are missing fairways and laying up, wedging it around, it can get demoralizing. You don't get tested and it cuts off your flair and ability to pull something off. You have no option to do that. For me personally, that's what used to get me down."
Damon Hack tackled a similar subject in the New York Times (thanks to reader Jim for this), and it includes this interesting bit:
More and more, professional golfers are battling lengthened courses and thickened rough, knowing that they may spend hours — and sometimes days — between birdies.
Jesper Parnevik, a five-time PGA Tour winner, said that people would look back on this era and think players were not so good.
“Everybody went from winning majors at 10 and 12 under to winning majors at 5 and 10 over,” he said. “It’s not fair, really. You have golf courses where guys were shooting 20 under 50 years ago and we can’t break par today.”
Greg Owen said, “So many of these golf courses are tricked up every week.”
The Telegraph posts Thursday's tee times.
Finally, Mark Garrod features Jose Maria Olazabal's remembrances of his mentor Seve, who retired Monday. Lawrence Donegan weighs in with an obituary of sorts too.