Saturday PGA Championship Clippings

Everyone has to play the same course. I heard it a few times on the Golf Channel post game show.

But really, is that a satisfactory explanation of what's going on at Oakland Hills? Sure, the players have to say it because mentally, they have to deal with the course for two more rounds and most people view any kind of course criticism as a cause for celebration.

I don't see some key questions being asked, perhaps because everyone is asking more Ryder Cup questions than anything else. Still, there is some scrutiny of the course setup that has led to some huge scores.

Larry Dorman sets the table:

There was change to the golf course, where the P.G.A. of America took some pity on the beleaguered professionals and shortened the four massive par-three holes by a total of 71 yards off the card, and lopped another 87 yards off the par-four sixth, shortening it to a drivable 300 yards.
There were even some changes in attitude among the golfers, who were beaten to a pulp Thursday by a par-70 golf course that played to an average of 74.85 strokes, second highest of the year in relation to par, behind only Royal Birkdale’s 75.87 in the British Open.
But the more things change, well, you know the rest. Despite the yardage concessions, the field stroke average was exactly the same as the first round, and the 74.85 ranked as the most difficult for any second round this year.
John Huggan in The Guardian:
Robert Allenby has been perhaps most vehement in his condemnation of what many have construed as a dirty-tricks campaign by the tournament organisers. The Australian, a man not noted for his reticence, was scathing in his assessment of the course following his first round of 76.
At the end of the day it's what's fair and what's not fair," said the world's 29th best player. "The set-up here is lousy. It's not enjoyable to play. They have taken an OK golf course and turned it into a lot of crap. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.
Many other players have voiced concerns over the direction in which the authorities appear to be taking the game. "It's a strange year when the US Open, traditionally the toughest of the majors, is the most fun of the four," said the former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, neatly summing up the feelings of the majority.
And he offers a beautiful rant from agent Chubby Chandler, capped off by this:
"None of this makes any sense at all. I mean, the PGA of America spend millions of dollars on advertisements, then they go and make the game look ridiculous. The whole thing is nothing but a struggle for all concerned."
John Hopkins blasts the PGA of America over the rough maintenance practices and overall setup.
Why is this necessary? It is not as if a 7,395-yard golf course with a par of 70 and 135 bunkers and slopey greens that run at 12 on a Stimpmeter is not difficult enough already.
What a shame. They have completely taken any imagination out of the equation. A player goes into the rough and thinks: I've got to get out of here, I don't care how." With that he picks out his wedge, takes a backbreaking heave at the ball and hopes it moves 100 yards out on to the fairway.
Alan Bastable talks to Winged Foot super Matt Burrows about the practice of brushing the rough because Steve Cook at Oakland Hills "wasn't available for comment."

Carol Hopkins of The Oakland Press offers this anecdote:
The Davids' friend, Bruce Abbott of Bloomfield Hills, is volunteering as a marshal for the tournament.
"I think the hole I'm at -- 16 -- is the most difficult, it's the course's signature hole."
Abbott recalled watching how precisely officials monitor landscaping.
"This week, the PGA had a guy clipping the last blades of grass near the pond on 16," he said.
The trimming was done, he said, so balls landing on the pond's edge wouldn't be impeded from going into the water.
"They were toughening the course," said Abbott.
Abbott said greenskeepers also take a blower to the rough.
"They fluff it up and comb it away from the hole," he said.
Steve Elling quotes J.D. Holmes, Ian Poulter and the PGA of America's Joe Steranka.
But Holmes bashed away at the podium, too. By day's end, the second-round scoring average of 74.845 was the highest all year on tour relative to par.
"I think there should be some tough holes, but I don't think it should be, 'I hit a perfect shot and made double-bogey,'" said Holmes, a two-time PGA Tour winner.
"You've got long rough on every hole, is the frustrating part. When it's completely unfair on some holes, no, a major shouldn't be like that."
"You are just trying not to bleed to death out there," said Ian Poulter, who finished second at the British Open three weeks ago. "It's like the PGA has sliced your throat on the first tee and you have to try and make it 'round to the 18th without dying.
"It is pretty frustrating when you stand on a par-3 with a 5-iron and are aiming for a bunker because you know that's the only way you can make par. That's pretty sad. I am very disappointed we are having to do that on such a great golf course."
And now for the official response.
"We set it up the same way," Steranka said. "The difference is, Oakland Hills is hard. It's one of the most recent classic courses that's been set up for today's modern player, and not just today's equipment."
This begs one key question: if Southern Hills was so successful with rough at 2 3/4 inches, why not replicate that at Oakland HIlls?

As for round two, Golfweek's all-you-need-to-know 18-point recap starts up with some enjoyable Monty moments following his 84.

Paul Mahoney writes about Monty's press exchange:
"Make that your last laugh, OK?" he snapped at an American reporter before agreeing to sift through the wreckage of his five-hour mauling at the hands of the Monster that is Oakland Hills. Monty, who finished tied for 149th at 20-over-par, said he did not realize the significance of the putt on 18. "I wasn't conscious of that score," he said. "I wasn't conscious of much, to be honest. That was the most difficult day I've had since my poor score at Muirfield in 2002. But today was as severe as any course I have ever played. Nothing like the course we [the European Ryder Cup team] did so well on four years ago."
John Hopkins paints an entirely different picture of Monty's post round appearance. The words courage and dignity are used!

Here's his courageous and dignified press conference transcript.

Steve Elling on leader J.B. Holmes's round:
Holmes averaged a jaw-dropping 337 yards in his measured drives on Friday, and it didn't begin to do the day justice. These are, indeed, his greatest hits:
 No. 2, par 5, 529 yards: Holmes vaporized his tee shot, leaving him an easy wedge to the green. He two-putted from 12 feet for a birdie.
o. 6, par 4, 300 yards: After the PGA moved up the tees to tempt players, Holmes took the bait and drove the green. He two-putted from 30 feet for a birdie.
No. 12, par 5, 593 yards: After crushing his drive, Holmes reached the green in two with, get this, an 8-iron from 217 yards. That's right, 217 yards.
No. 14, par 4, 488 yards: As it turned out, the rest was mere prelude. Holmes swatted his drive 401 yards and had 87 steps remaining. He flipped a wedge onto the green to record his third birdie in a row.
And finally, Paul Mahoney Doug Ferguson on the tees going up at No. 6 Friday:
One of the bogeys belonged to Mark Calcavecchia, who missed his tee shot to the right. That's not what caused the bogey, however.
"I stepped on my (expletive) ball," Calcavecchia said. "That's all you need to know about the sixth hole."