"You can hit great, straight drives in the US Open and still miss the fairway."

John Huggan follows up on his Golf Digest interview with Geoff Ogilvy with a few more questions for the defending champion. Ogilvy touched on a similar notion about driving accuracy in the Q&A we did for Links (not online). I think he's onto something with regard to the effect of the 21-24 yard landing area...
JH: Ironically, the US Open isn't the one of the four your game would seem most suited to.

GO: No. I have thought a lot about that. I would have expected, for someone like me who is a little wayward off the tee even when playing well, that Augusta or the Open would be the best bet. But US Opens are so narrow that straight hitters almost lose their advantage. Everyone is in the rough. And I'm used to that and they are not.

You can hit great, straight drives in the US Open and still miss the fairway. So it almost works against those guys. I mean, I'm quite happy hitting seven shots out of the rough. I do that every day. They don't.

I'm not alone, though. Take a look at the leader board at Winged Foot.

Phil was up there and he isn't the straightest hitter. Everyone talks about how you have to hit it straight at the US Open. And I thought that too. But in hindsight I'm not so sure. No-one can hit it straight enough to hit every fairway in the US Open. It's so difficult, almost impossible really. You can be a great driver of the ball and still miss six fairways in a day. And you can drive badly and do that.

JH: What do you think of all the rough around the greens?

GO: I think some of the holes at Winged Foot would have been better served if balls were allowed to run away from the greens, rather than get stopped within a few feet.

JH: Which is what happened with your approach to the last green came up short.

GO: Exactly. That created quite an interesting shot.

Winged Foot is a stellar course though. I can't say anything bad about it because I won! I loved the fact that they had trimmed the trees so that you can see a lot of the course under the branches. That has been lost in a lot of places, but Winged Foot had that look about it.

It also has some of the coolest greens I have ever seen.

Teed Off At Winged Foot

Thanks to reader Noonan for this (not such a) Page Six shocker...

THE prestigious Winged Foot Golf Club in Westchester is still recovering from the effects of the U.S Open held there last summer. Members were seething because they couldn't get tee times and because of damage done to the grounds by the hordes. "Several members are smoking mad about the disruption and the inconvenience," said an insider. Winged Foot members - who include NFL legend Frank Gifford, former U.S. Rep. Joe DioGuardi, Citigroup director/SUNY trustee Thomas F. Egan and State Supreme Court Justice Nicholas Colabella - were ticked off even before the Open started, when club president Leonard P. Horan warned them in writing to keep their mouths shut around the press. Now another letter, obtained by Page Six, has gone out from treasurer Kenneth G. Beitz, saying, "A number of members have asked the Board for a summary of how we did financially." Not very well - Winged Foot got $5.6 million from "a fixed payment, corporate hospitality sales, and a consumer price index escalator," Beitz says. But after deducting the costs of "bringing in our fairways and expanding the rough areas," plus the loss of normal revenue, "our 'profit' for hosting this Open is approximately $1.5 million."


Slam Success

The Orlando Sentinel's Steve Elling published this list of the best players in all four majors.

Here’s one race that Tiger Woods can’t win. For the third consecutive year, the Sentinel has crunched the numbers at golf’s major championships and come up with the collective king of the court for 2006, and since only players who made the cut in all Grand Slam events are eligible, Woods didn’t make the grade. Among the other highly ranked stars who missed the cut in at least one major this year were Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, Padraig Harrington and David Howell. Phil Mickelson and Woods won the cumulative titles in 2004 and 2005, respectively, both at 26 under. In our three years of compiling the list, the two Americans to make the chart marks by far the lowest total, down from seven in 2004 and five last year. (Note: Woods was added purely for the purpose of comparison since he didn’t play on the weekend at the U.S. Open, his first missed cut at a major 10 years as a pro).

Player            Masters    U.S. Open    British        PGA    Total
Phil Mickelson        -7        +6                 -5                -6    -12
Geoff Ogilvy           +1        +5                 -6                -9    -9
Jim Furyk               +3        +6                -12               -3    -6
Adam Scott             +4        +12               -9              -12    -5
Mike Weir                -1        +8                 +1              -11    -3
Ernie Els                +4        +13               -13              -6     -2
Robert Allenby        +3        +11               -6               -5    +3    
Luke Donald           +8        +9                  -2             -12    +3
Jose Maria Olazabal -4      +12               +1              +4   +13
Miguel A. Jimenez    -1        +11              -1               +8   +17
Tiger Woods             -4        +12 (MC)     -18              -18    NA


Breaking News! Ogilvy Concerned About Direction of Game

I know Australia is a bit disconnected from the world sometimes, but how do you explain The Age sending out a story on Geoff Ogilvy's comments about the state of the game as breaking news? The comments, reported by Golfobserver's John Huggan (which The Age obnoxiously did not cite), were made Friday or Saturday of the U.S. Open and reported in a June 20th column.

Well, no worries, because it is still a column worth reading. Unfortunately, you have to read a cached version because the original is not viewable as Golfobserver moves to a new host. 

Actually, forgive me, but this is my personal clipping archive and since I didn't copy the original comments over, here they are from The Age's uh, exclusive.

"Two important aspects of golf have gone in completely the wrong direction," said Ogilvy.

"Most things are fine. Greens are generally better, for example. But the whole point of golf has been lost.

"You don't measure a good drive by how far it goes; you analyse its quality by its position relative to the next target. That doesn't exist in golf any more.

"The biggest problem today is tournament organisers trying to create a winning score. When did low scores become bad? At what point did the quality of your course become dependent on its difficulty? That was when golf lost the plot. The winning score should be dictated by the weather.

"The other thing is course set up. Especially in America there is too much rough and greens are way too soft. Then, when low scores become commonplace, they think how to make courses harder. So they grow even more long grass.

"But that misses the point. There is no real defence against a soft green.

"If the first game of golf was played on some of the courses we play today, it wouldn't be a sport. It would never have been invented. People would play one round and ask themselves why they would ever play a second. It would be no fun."

Ogilvy was particularly critical of US Masters officials at Augusta National.

"With the greens they have there, you don't need rough. They are always going to be firm," said Ogilvy.

"Move the pin ten feet and the other side of the fairway becomes the place to be. That's the aspect that has been lost. And if Augusta misses the point, what hope has golf got?"

Ogilvy questioned the R & A's set-up of last year's British Open venue at the Home of Golf at St. Andrews and the infamous Road Hole.

"It's the most fearsome hole in golf and yet they had to grow all that silly rough up the right hand side," said Ogilvy.

The Australia also took aim at the USGA, organisers of June's US Open where Ogilvy became the first Australian in 11 years to win a Major.

Speaking of the 2005 US Open host venue of Pinehurst where Sydney-based Kiwi Michael Campbell won, Ogilvy remarked: "All of the bunkers were in the rough."

"And all the best angles were taken away by the USGA growing long grass in the spots where the best drives should have been allowed to finish. It was a mess."

Ogilvy's biggest fear is that the new direction of golf is filtering back to the weekend hackers and spoiling the game.

"I don't care, if people want to see us hacking out of long grass all the time, it's fine with me," he said.

"But the trouble is that everyone in golf follows us, the professionals. So it gets harder to find fun places to play.

"All of a sudden my dad is out there chopping around in six inch rough, losing his ball every time he misses the fairway and having no fun. Which makes no sense. We play a game that 99.9 per cent of golfers have no hope of duplicating."

Ogilvy's Press Conference

Forgive if you read this already, but ASAP was slow to post this and since this is my very own clipping library, I have to put these things up! Plus, he has some more interesting things to say.

STEWART McDOUGALL: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Geoff Ogilvy, thanks for coming across, early in the morning, half past 8:00.

You won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Tell us how you find the course here compared to the one at Winged Foot.

GEOFF OGILVY: Well, it's about as different as you can get, I guess. It's a little bit wider off the tee, which is nice. It's a lot firmer, it's probably the firmest links course we've played in a long time. And they've only been running 30 yards, and these are 60 yards. It's perfect, which is the way it should be.

The rough is playable. If you hit it in the bunkers, you're going to be in that's a chip out in most cases, but the rough you have to be able to play from. So in some cases you're laying back with really, really short clubs, just to make sure you don't run out to the bunkers, to give yourself longer second shots, but it's better than being in the bunkers, so it's a fun course.

Q. This course has numerous places where there's out of bounds. Could you talk about how much that affects you and how you play this golf course? And also, could you talk about specifically the 18th hole and if that's as hard as it looks with that out of bounds so far on the right?

GEOFF OGILVY: Out of bounds, the two obviously would be the 3rd and the 18th. The 3rd you have to be cautious, because it's draining so much to the left, so it's probably more a play on the second shot, because you're going to have quite a long second shot in sometimes.

18 is a strange it's a funny kind of tee shot, especially if the wind is pushing it that direction, as well. It's the bunkers that you can't really carry. Yesterday you couldn't carry on the left, so you've really got to start it up the middle and it's quite a weird tee shot. It's one of the strangest holes I've seen but actually quite fun to play, I think. It's a fun hole.

We don't have out of bounds on the last hole on many golf courses. It's going to be interesting. I don't know, I've never really played them much. But it's not like last year at St. Andrews, you can poke it down there somewhere, you have to on the second shot, as well. I mean, it's in play with the second shot. Same with the third and 18th, out of bounds is in play, which is interesting. It's funny, somebody could come back with a 3 on the last or an 8 on the last, which is what you want, I guess, at the end of a tournament.

Q. Would you have thought the U.S. Open would have been your first?

GEOFF OGILVY: I thought the U.S. Open would be my last. Everyone has asked me, I don't know why. For my reasoning it didn't make sense. My reasoning is because I don't drive the ball very straight; that's probably the weakest attribute. But the more you play U.S. Opens, the more you realize that nobody hits fairways. Strikers are missing fairways, so people that hit it a bit wide have probably an advantage, because they're used to playing out of the rough. It's just that narrow.

If you look at the guys up there, Monty is a straight driver, but Phil doesn't hit it very straight. I don't hit it very straight. There's a good cross section of people. It doesn't seem to be only strikers that don't do it well. Maybe my reasoning was wrong, but that's the one I would have picked last. This one is the one I would pick first, because there's a large percentage of the field here that doesn't play or hasn't played much links golf. I always said I have played more than a lot of guys.

Monty: It's Vijay's Fault!

Lawrence Donegan reports that Monty and his new sports psychologist have been working on ways to figure out how his U.S. Open finish was someone else's fault:
The double bogey that followed Montgomerie's momentary mental lapse will go down as one of the sadder moments in recent memory, although he has since spent time with his sports psychologist Hugh Mantle and the pair have analysed exactly what went wrong. Part of their discussion focused on the moments before he struck the ball, when he was forced to wait while his playing partner Vijay Singh sought a ruling from officials.

"I'm convinced that, if I was to go up to that ball at my usual pace and hit it, I'd have probably won. But you have to play according to your playing partner and the rules. If I'd been in the tent he would have had to wait on me. It's amazing what runs through the mind at that stage," Montgomerie said.

Tiger: "I watched both days. That was my punishment."

Tiger talking at the tournament soon to not be called the Western:

Q. Did you watch the end of the U.S. Open?

TIGER WOODS: You know, I watched both days. That was my punishment.

Q. Thoughts on Montgomerie and Mickelson?

TIGER WOODS: I thought in my opinion that it was Monty's tournament. In the fairway on 18 with -- not only in the fairway, he was on the right side, on the flat spot with a perfect angle with his fade. It doesn't get any better than that. With Phil on the tee, anything can still happen. He could still make bogey on the last hole and lose the tournament. I thought it was Monty's tournament, put the ball on the green and it's over. Obviously that didn't happen, and then Phil had his mistakes. It was a very interesting finish, one that none of us who are involved in the game of golf probably ever would have predicted we would have seen happening.

Monty's tournament? 

Seve: U.S. Open "worst of the majors"

Seve Ballesteros on the 2006 U.S. Open:

"I watched 45 minutes on Saturday [second round] and didn't see a single birdie, so I decided not to continue watching it," Ballesteros said yesterday. "For me, it was like watching basketball rather than golf. It is very sad to see real champions finishing plus-20, and I don't think that is the spirit of the game."

"I have never been in any favour of the U.S. Open in any way, and I think it is the worst of the majors," he added.

The Latest On Ogilvy

Judith Coen writes about his hectic schedule in Australia while most of you probably saw this, but I'm still catching up and enjoyed Mike Clayton's thoughts on the Open.
America seems to be is a state of shock that their man Mickelson lost the tournament and Ogilvy is in danger of being known as the winner who was simply bequeathed the championship by both Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie.

Golf World, the finest golf magazine in the world has even put Mickelson on the front cover. I mean seriously, you cannot be serious. I'm willing to bet that it's the first time in history the winner hasn't graced the cover.

In Australia we are celebrating the Victorian's win and for a country of less than twenty million, a major championship is not something that comes along every day. From the fateful day at Augusta in 1996 when we realized our man, Norman was destined never to win an American major; we have been searching and hoping for our next star.

Huggie and Monty

...Sounds like a wonderful BBC movie, but not yet. In the mean time, Huggan has the pen, Monty, well, himself:

There was one big difference between the other challengers and Monty, of course. While they managed to maintain the highest standard of etiquette during what turned out to be a traumatic afternoon for all concerned, the same cannot be said for our tartan hero.

Adding to his already lengthy list of crass and boorish behaviour over the years, Monty managed, in less than half an hour, to alienate the gallery around the 17th tee, make unwarranted physical contact with a New York state trooper and offend the United States Golf Association. This made three mean feats and no mean feat, if you know what I mean.

Ogilvy: "golf is a better game when the ball goes shorter for us profiessionals"

Geoff Ogilvy talking to Reuters:

"I think golf is a better game when the ball goes shorter for us professionals," the 29-year-old from Melbourne said.

"I don't understand why we have to get to the point where we change the Augusta National... we had it for 70 years so why change it? Courses like that make golf more interesting."

 "We (professionals) are the top 1 per cent of golf and, at the most it's 1 per cent of that 1 per cent who really benefit. It helps the guys who didn't need the help.

"Guys who used to be able to drive 300 yards (274 metres) can now hit it 340 (310 metres). Long term it's not good for the game."

McCabe On Fay's Crop Circles

David Fay can't wait to tell Jim McCabe that the drop circles at Winged Foot were his idea.

Drop areas had cropped up all over Winged Foot -- 50 in all, seven around the 18th. White chalk circles were seemingly at every turn of the head and even worse, they were being used, even if it meant moving the ball closer to the hole.

Good gracious, what's next? Players can buy mulligans on the tee for $5? Gimme putts if they're inside the leather?

Surely, someone in the US Golf Association had goofed. The matter had to be brought to the attention of the executive director, David Fay. Did he know about this?

Turns out he not only knew about it, he initiated it. And he denied my request for two minutes of his time.

``You'll get more than two minutes," said Fay. ``This is my baby. This is why I'm wound up."

Imagine if we could get him this worked up about the ball!

``This slow game has, over the years, gotten slower, and in my judgment part of it was dealing with these things in `big-time golf' called temporary immovable obstructions," said Fay, his reference being all the grandstands and scoreboards that are constructed. Fay estimates that it takes as much as 10 minutes to take a free drop on a ``TIO" ruling, because it involves an array of particulars, like keeping the arc so that the angle of the shot remains similar, not moving the ball closer to the hole, getting patrons out of the way, taking down ropes.

``And time spent doing a TIO drop is time you never get back."

Almost Meeksian in its tone.

Phil's On Course Sunday Blog

Thanks to reader Pat for this very funny DJ Gallo spoof. Sample:

Posted 7:01 PM ET
Frick! Why did that tree branch jump out and hit my ball? OK, OK -- no problem. Breathe, Phil, breathe. Go to a happy place. You are in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. You are swimming naked through a river of chocolate -- milk chocolate, made from fresh, clean milk suckled by the Wonkas from your very own … cartons.

OK. I'm back. Now the pressure is really on. I have to hit this shot directly over this enormous tree in front of me and land it on the green and one-putt for the win. No problem. With the Wonkas cheering me on in my head, I can't fail.

Kostis: Leave The Courses Alone

Peter Kostis is mad as hell and can't take the bastardization of courses via extreme setups anymore. Seriously! Here's a great rant from Kostis on Winged Foot's ridiculous lack of width.

Let these classic golf courses stand, as designed, and let these players play. Sure, grow some rough—just not the same amount for every hole. Sure, narrow the fairways—just not all of them the same way regardless of the hole's design.