"It's insulating to women that Mac O'Grady would say that."

According to several scribblers present at the U.S. Open press conferences, golf legend Arnold Palmer called beloved USGA President Walter Driver, "John Driver," but the ASAP folks, feering the wrath the God, cleaned up the transcript.

Unfortunately, it appears Executive Director David Fay, despite pulling in well over $500,000 a year, doesn't carry the same weight. Or he just wasn't making a whole lot of sense during Wednesday's USGA press conference at Pine Needles.

 Q. You spoke of this course being 200 yards longer than the last two Opens and lengthening the second hole because they're hitting longer. I'm going to ask you what I've asked a couple of other girls, Mac O'Grady made this statement, "What Michelle Wie is doing is not humanly possible, it's technologically possible because the ball goes too straight, they go too far."  Could you address how the women are hitting because of equipment or is that a problem or what?

DAVID FAY: I think it's insulating to women that Mac O'Grady would say that. Why wouldn't they hit it longer? As Mike said, everyone else does. These are very talented athletes. Is he going to say that about Laura Davies? Is he going to say that about Annika? This is a reflection of the talent that you see out there.
Insulating? No room in the Women's Open budget for transcript mop up?

You know, this seems like a good time to announce that reader Paul has nominated Fay for this site's list of folks who have spoken out about distance advances. Granted, it was back in 2003 before he started clinging to this grooves nonsense to save his job, but nonetheless Mr. Fay at one time thought it was the golf ball going longer, and not all of this wonderful athleticism:
I’m one of those who believes the ball is going farther. Only someone who is deaf, dumb and blind would say otherwise.


Emailing Walter

It must be comforting to know that even though spectators, vendors and media can't use a PDA while on the course at a USGA event, the President can check his email during the round.

From an AP story:

USGA president Walter Driver, who arrived in Newport on Friday night, was in a cart following Michelle Wie's group on the 14th hole when he received an e-mail that made him smile.

There was concern that if too many players made the cut - the top 60 and ties, and everyone within 10 strokes of Annika Sorenstam's 2-under 140 - it would be impossible to play 36 holes on Sunday.

Driver said any more than 81 players making the cut would be more than they could handle. But the message from USGA executive director David Fay said the number was looking to be "manageable."

Five hours later, Fay proved to be right - 68 players made the cut at 8-over, and they will tee off at 6:30 a.m.


Women's Open Final Notes

WomenOpen06.gifDave Anderson writes about Annika moving into a new category of greatness with this win.
If some people fail to appreciate Sorenstam's mastery, Woods apparently is not among them. "He's been calling me every day and cheering me on, which has been really sweet of him," Sorenstam said after defeating Pat Hurst by four strokes with a one-under-par 70 in yesterday's 18-hole playoff at the sunny and virtually windless Newport Country Club. "I think he has been on vacation, and for him to tune into women's golf I think says a lot."
Yeah, a lot about the PGA Tour.

Meanwhile this AP notes column has two fun anecdotes about Pat Hurst having trouble finding a place to eat Sunday night and a question she asked Annika during the playoff.

Where Was Johnny?

Johnny Miller was noticeably absent from Monday's U.S. Women's Open playoff coverage.

Now, I know it probably has to do with some contractual nonsense about only appearing on the network. But it was much nicer with Dottie Pepper, and without his references to the "sprinkler system" or that beautiful lush green grass in the Newport fairways.

Still, I have to wonder, was Johnny...

A) At Newport begging Dick Ebersol to let him out of his contract so that he could work the playoff?

B) Doing a previously scheduled Monday outing making some extra cast to offset his low NBC wages?

B) At Prairie Dunes advance scouting Dave Axland and Stan George's recent bunker work?

C) At Golf Digest headquarters in Wilton working with Guy Yocom on his September column?

D) In a Town Car en route to Logan to catch a flight home to California?

Yep, the answer is probably (D).

USGA Press Conference at Newport

Sadly, most of the talk centered around the flooded course and the dreadful forecast for Thursday. Still, a few items of interest:

Q. We had the first major here in the U.S. in 1895, and we waited nor 100 years for the U.S. Amateur. Why did it take so long to come back here? I know it's probably before your time?

DAVID FAY: Thank you for that.

An innocent mistake. The bow tie that makes him look older.
DAVID FAY: And I think that Winged Foot confirmed that a great old golf course can still be a great championship site for contemporary golf. It's remarkable that 32 years ago the story line from Winged Foot was the massacre at Winged Foot, the unfairness of the golf course, the trickery of the golf course. The winning score was 287. Two weeks ago the winning score was 285 and the greatest criticism I heard was that the greens were a little slower than they expected. There was no comment about fundamental unfairness of the golf course or it's not playable or it's not rewarding good shot making. It certainly punished errant shot making?
You see, the winning score doesn't matter to them. Nope, not a bit.


Views of Newport, Vol. 4

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One of the holes added to Donald Ross's original Newport layout, the 549-yard par-5 7th, err, 16th features a midway hazard area that Tilly loved, though this one offers a way around.

Here's the view into the green, with those incredibly aged and character rich bunkers (and love the sand color, fescues and flowering weeds that give such a rugged appearance). 

Views of Newport, Vol. 3

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Newport features back-to-back par-3's with the uphill 4th and the long, Redan-like 5th. Both are classics for different reasons.

The fourth tee (upper image) sits next to the maintenance center and features an all or nothing uphill shot played to a "skyline green," generally played into a stiff breeze. The USGA lists it at 137 for this week's event.

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The 5th (lower image) is longer with more of a run-up approach required, and is played on nearly the same line as the previous hole. A design defect to some, but way too fun and different for most to even notice.

It also appears there are plans to alternate the distance for this hole ala the 4th at Baltusrol. 

Views of Newport

newportsign.jpgWhile I'm on the road the next few days, I can offer a few photos of the wonderful Newport Country Club, host to this week's U.S. Women's Open. I happened to catch it on a nice day for photography in the fall of 2003.

The next few posts will highlight some of my favorite holes and aspects of this charming layout. For more on the course, check out the USGA official site hole-by-hole map. There is also a page devoted to the club's history.

Do note the fairway irrigation-free course is likely to be much, much more green this year due to heavy rains, not because the USGA or club wanted it cleaned up for the championship.

And also remember that the clubhouse has undergone a significant restoration since my visit, so some of the color schemes and other details may be different when you see it this week. 

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So, for starters, check out the coolest parking lot in golf. Yes, that's right, grass, with white wood railings that have the initials of members to delineate parking spaces. 

USGA Exempts Wie To Women's Open

Their reasoning on Wie makes sense:

Wie, the 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion, has two third-place finishes in her first two LPGA tournaments in 2006. She finished third at the Fields Open and tied for third at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. In those two events, she has won $181,449, which would place her within the top 35 on the LPGA Tour money list if she were a full-time member of the Tour. In 2005, she made the cut in all four major events, with a second-place finish at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship and a tie for third at the Weetabix Women’s British Open. Were she a professional, she would have earned $697,144 to finish 12th on the 2005 LPGA money list. 

Newport Awaiting Wie...Already

2006logo.gifChris Baldwin at Travelgolf writes that they're already excited about the arrival of Michelle Wie in Newport...for the 2006 U.S. Women's Open. Though her expected appearance can't be promoted because she is currently an amateur.

Yes, the biggest reason for all this fuss is not included in the advertising blitz. With Wie still holding onto her amateur status, she's not used in any United States Golf Association promotions. Instead, the signs tout Annika Sorenstam, Grace Park and even virtually forgotten oldies Meg Mallon and Juli Inkster. So Wie is unseen, but definitely not unspoken about in Newport.

That'll change in October.