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Monday, May 08, 2006

Cybergolf carries my U.S. Open preview piece

Thank to Jeff and Bob over at Cybergolf for carrying my U.S. Open preview piece.

Here's the link. Enjoy. Some short snipets are below...

On past U.S. Opens and the setup:

"At Oakmont in ’73, Johnny Miller torched the course that Sunday for a major championship record 63 (which he now shares with Nicklaus, Weiskopf and Janzen).

It was the greatest single Sunday score in the history of the majors.

Now before the 1974 Open began, USGA representatives were quoted as saying “The USGA does not retaliate.”

Maybe the Open sound byte everybody remembers is “we’re not trying to embarrass the greatest golfers in the world…” but the “retaliate” sound byte sure looks funny when you see the ’74 opening round scores. The leader was Gary Player alone at level par. Irwin, Watson and Palmer shot 73, Nicklaus shot 75 and Mister 63 himself, Johnny Miller shot 76.

“Does not retaliate?” My fanny! I’m surprised they got off that easy. With six to eight inches of rough, fairways only 23 yards wide and green speeds that topped double digits on the stimpmeter on some of the most severely pitched greens in the country, the pros never had a chance."

On the setup changes under the new regime of Mike Davis:

"Davis didn't go into specifics of how high each tier of the rough would be, but said, "We're trying to fit the penalty with the crime a little better than we have in the past, so the guy who misses the fairway by a little bit has a better shot than the guy who misses it by 15 or 20 paces." Additionally, on shorter par-4s the rough will be longer and the transitional rough narrower than on longer par-4s where there will be more room side to side.

This is an enormous departure from past Opens, where the straightest hitters and best putters won. Depending on the speed of the greens, this could lower the score in relation to par a small degree. Perhaps as low as -4…if the green speeds stay playable. That’s the other critical factor."

On lengthened holes:

At the 16th (previously 457 yards -- now can go back to a max of 485 yards). This hole never surrendered anything when it was 457 yards. The added length means driver for just about anyone in the field. The green has been added onto a bit but it's still designed for the shorter club as the hole generally is a par-5 for the members. That means it still will not be receptive to and contain hot low approaches with long irons and fairway woods. Whether the player carries a hybrid is a matter of the individual, but look for balls in the back of this green complex the first few days.

On Fuzzy Fezler making all Mamaroneck polite society swoon with "the shorts heard round the world:"

"Exhausted and baked by searing heat for a week, Hale Irwin’s winning score in 1974 was 287 – seven over, the course had played to par 70 that year– the highest score in relation to par in a major championship. It was good enough to win by two shots over Forrest Fezler who shocked the world not only with his tenacious play, but by changing into shorts on the back nine on Sunday to beat the ghastly heat.

When the Open returned in ’84, nobody remembered teasing Fezler about having, as one pro quipped “the best shins on Tour,” but they sure remembered the rough.and green speeds."


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