Golf has its drawbacks. It is possible, by too much of it, to destroy the mind. WALTER SIMPSON
Stephen Fastenau talks to the 14-year-old U.S. Open contestant about his appearance at Olympic Club as Andy Zhang prepares for the AJGA event at Hilton Head Plantation.
The 14-year-old landed in the U.S. Open field after Paul Casey withdrew with an injury. He played a Tuesday practice round with Masters champion Watson, and after walking off the 18th green was surrounded by media members who didn't stop asking questions.
"It's my first time doing all this stuff," Zhang said. "I should have said 'Stop,' when I wanted to stop. I didn't know what to do. I kept going and answering questions. I didn't want to keep up the group behind us."
Ah the young lad, who was better than most twice his age at answering questions, just needs to understand that we didn't want to talk to the geezers behind him.
Jonathan Wall on the AT&T National jumping on the Beau Hossler bandwagon by giving the high schooler and recent U.S. Open contender a spot in this year's field at Congressional, where he played in last year's national championship.
Ryan Ballengee says Hossler hoped for an all-UT pairing but the tour won't be going that direction.
The 17-year-old hoped to be grouped with a pair of Texas Longhorns in current player Jordan Spieth and alumnus Justin Leonard. Hossler, entering his senior year of high school in the fall, has already committed to the University of Texas for his collegiate golf. However, the PGA Tour will not group the trio, a Tour official said.
When the AT&T National begins Thursday at Bethesda’s Congressional Country Club, Hossler will be the youngest member of a 120-man field. Eleven of those players, most notably tournament host Tiger Woods, have won major championships. But only three of them led the most recent major, the U.S. Open: Woods, Jim Furyk — and Hossler.
“The whole experience just helped my confidence,” Hossler said. “I just respect the games of those players so much. They’re the best in the world. But now, I think if I play well, I can play with them and compete.”
The digital edition of Golf World has been emailed to subscribers and those of you mysteriously not subscribing should be able to read my story analyzing last week's setup of Olympic Club.
In my story I only included a few holes as examples, but here's the entire comparison of the non-one-shot holes and the "Fairways Hit" stats in 1998 compared to this year. You'll see that other than a few exceptions, the players hit far fewer fairways despite being armed with better equipment than in 1998.
Hole '98% '12%
1 55 63
2 67 54
4 47 33
5 42 34
6 59 52
7 59 21
9 45 34
10 63 52
11 57 55
12 55 44
14 69 51
16 69 51
17 62 40
18 64 61
Total 58.5 46
Green in regulation percentage for the field was virtually identical in 1998, 52.5% compared to 52% in 2012.
Steve DiMeglio (here) and Scott Michaux (here) filed entertaining accounts of their Monday rounds at Olympic and I was pleased to see Michaux came away a tad critical of the fairway widths that I noted left something to be desired in my Golf World story.
But even better was Michaux's defense of the Bill Burger that validated which I love and which came under intense scrutiny and criticism in the media center when overcooked impostors were served up to the dastardly ditchdiggers each afternoon.
Olympic’s famous Bill’s Burger Dogs are the greatest thing ever served at a halfway house. GREATEST THING EVER!
I’m not talking about the version of the curious hamburger shaped to fit on a hot dog bun that was served to folks who attended the U.S. Open. That was like eating imitation crab meat. Not the real thing.
“Terrible ... inedible,” is how Patricia, the woman who was cooking them up fresh in the halfway house near the 10th green, described the mass-produced facsimiles during the Open. She explained how the California Board of Health came in and mandated that each burger be eviscerated to 160 degrees until they were leathery slabs of meat that would eventually reach the person eating it about two hours after coming off the grill.
The version Patricia cooked fresh to request for everyone (the preferred color was just a little pink unless you really wanted it cooked more) and put on a toasted bun was sublime. It is the perfect mid-round snack/lunch that is easy to grab and go without making the mess that a normal burger would.
“I was officiating the last group [Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell], and the first time I saw him was on the seventh tee,” Davis said. “He was shouting a ‘cuckoo’ there, but when they were set to play he stopped and was respectful.
“I just thought, ‘Boy, look at that way he’s dressed,’ ” Davis said. “It’s just one of those things.”
With the continued chatter about the USGA surprising the field by playing the par-5 16th much shorter, it's worth understanding that at least one contender, Michael Thompson, had a preview of the setup in 2007.
Of course, you'll also notice in this video of Jamie Lovemark teeing off in the U.S. Amateur that the fairway is much, much wider. Thanks to reader Kevin for this:
Michael Hiestand notes this about NBC's final day 6.6. rating up against the NBA Finals.
The U.S. Open on NBC Sunday drew a 6.6 overnight. Predictably, that's up from last year's final-round coverage -- by 29% -- when the event's finish wasn't close and, more importantly, it didn't run in East Coast primetime.
But compared to two previous West Coast U.S. Opens that has similar primetime schedules -- in 2008 and 2010 -- NBC's Sunday coverage was down. It was down 22% from 2008 and 4% from 2010.
Some fascinating comments from Jim Furyk about his surprise at playing 16 tee from the 575 yard plate (Mike O'Malley has the short version of the tournament turning point in this GW Daily item).
Even though Mike Davis has been open about this possibility and course setup spontaneity, and even though the tee is right next to the 10th green, Furyk still sounded a bit peeved by the move. Which is why I love when Davis does this. Some view it as contrived because a human being is doing it instead of a surprise wind shift orchestrated by Mother Nature.
Q. 16th hole. Tell us everything from the tee box on.
JIM FURYK: The tee was a hundred yards up. So I'll be quite honest, it was 99 yards up from the back of the very back tee. I know the USGA gives us a memo saying that they play from multiple tees, but there's no way to prepare for a hundred yards. So there's no way that you're, I thought that they put the tee up like they did, maybe 65 yards up on Friday, but to get to a tee where the tee box is a hundred yards up and the fairway makes a complete L turn, I was unprepared and didn't know exactly where to hit the ball off the tee. And I took a little bit more of an aggressive route with that 3‑wood.
In hindsight, I like the way Graeme played the hole. He played it 2‑iron, 2‑iron, and sand wedge. And I don't know what to say, other than there's no way anyone else in the field was prepared for the tee to be that far up. I just didn't handle it very well. And I'm not sure I hit the wrong club off the tee, but probably hit the wrong shot off the tee. And that probably as much as anything forced me to make a poor swing.
Q. How unsettling is that to get up on the tee box and really not have a clear picture of thousand manage that hole?
JIM FURYK: It's awkward. That happens, that's happened quite a bit in the setups here in the last six and seven years and I want to be clear, I really like the way Mike sets the golf course up, I think he's done a great job. But there's always one round where, towards that late in the day, where you grab a hole and it's much different than you would expect it. And there's no way when we play our practice rounds you're going to hit a shot from a tee a hundred yards up unless someone tells you.
But the rest of the field had that same shot to hit today and I'm pretty sure no one hit as shitty a shot as I did, so. I did the best, the worst job of handling it and I have no one to blame but myself. I should have hit a different shot off the tee and if anything you need to miss that fairway to the right to never to the left. So it makes mine twice as bad.
But is there anything wrong with moving a tee so far forward on the final day of the U.S. Open? Especially when there's been a suggestion the hole will be moved forward and the tee is visible from a hole played prior to it? Is that enough of a leading question?
Sean Martin wrote about No. 16 and points out something lost in the tee placement: Sunday's "sucker" hole location and explains why certain players like John Peterson played to the center of the green.