Friday, 8 August 2008

USPGA Episode I- A New Runt

My oh my, having had the usual week of cruel jibes about it's status as a Major all through the media, from journalists and players alike, 'runt of the litter' a common phrase used to describe it; the USPGA has decided to give two fingers to the lot of them and set a mean test for the very best. There have been some big first day scores out there, with only 15 players managing par or better- isn't the US Open supposed to be the hard one?
Lee Westwood, after shooting a 7 over par 77 had major complaints about the course, questioning the stealth way in which the tournament officials have spiced up the course, saying

"I am not sure you need rough as long as it is and you certainly don't need to sweep it back towards the tee the night before the tournament when we have played it as it is in the practice rounds. I can't recall it happening before and can't think of a reason why they would do it other than to irritate the players as that is all it does.

"I asked my partners if I was out of order and they said 'no, if you are slightly off line you are crucified. They are sucking the fun out of the major championships when you set it up like that."

It does beg the question, if you are going to have punishing rough, where the grass is sweeped back against the players, don't the guys playing deserve a heads up? Doing that to it, where it will snaffle up running balls and wrap round clubheads even more, will be tough enough, shouldn't the players have a chance to get used to playing out of it at least? Since when did the set up of the course become susceptible to such stealth tactics, where men must fear the ninja like descension of the greenskeepers with their sweeps, so Lee and the boys don't know what they're hitting it into on Thursday morning? (Incidentally I saw them do it at Augusta once, to what they refer to as 'rough'. They just walked along, wiping the grass with a long rubber pipe in a swishing motion. Ken Brown had a go, he loved it, bless him...)

To my mind this is just the sort of thing this championship needs, a big talking point, tough scoring, a sense that the winner had a tough time doing it. Maybe then it may rise in some peoples estimation. Maybe not Lee's but you can't please everyone.

But Lee is by no means out of it. As I write, Andres Romero has two holes to play and is tied with Robert Karlsson and the vastly improved Jeev Milka Singh at two under par. Sergio Garcia, will be delighted to have got in at one under, with my other main tip Anthony Kim also well placed on even Par. My third tip, Kenny Perry has unfortunately withdrawn with an eye injury after coming in 9 over, so at least he can't embarress me further this week...

Darren Clarke disappointingly took bogey on his closing three holes to lie 5 over. Monty is just just behind on plus six, but as I said, with the scoring as it is, a round of par or better will see these guys right the way up the leaderboard.

Our friend Hunter Mahan had a hard days work, hacking it about in 81 strokes in preparation for the hard week of eating and golf in september... I guess this is him trying to play himself out of Azinger's Ryder Cup plans since he couldn't talk his way out of them. The american Captain came out yesterday and blamed his comments on his youth and said he would still pick him. He should have waited a day... He's one of a few to have played themselves out of it but he's the only big scalp and it's not surprising under this attention.

Still, none of the big boys are out of it yet, Mickelson is well poised at evens, alongside the big driving Angel Cabrera who could be a big danger man, while the bulk of the pack is sitting around two, three and four over. All will be glad to see that no one has got a big head start on the field and don't be surprised to see the front-runners drift back tomorrow, the runt will wanting to give them all a bite this week I bet..

Full scores available here

1 comment:

Tombstone said...

stealth tactics and ninja greenkeepers would certainly spice up golf for the younger generations. indeed with Ninja's as greenkeepers why not make such course alterations as "rough sweeping" occur during play? Who wouldn't tune in to each and every golf tournament if a horde of men in black pajama's could at any given moment appear en masse to change the characteristics of a hole currently in play. Might I suggest that in addition to "rough sweeping" high explosives could be used to make new bunkers appear, high powered water jets to create lakes where whence there was land, indeed if you wanted to be particularly imaginative perhaps a herd of Buffalo could be released onto fairways periodically through each of the major championsips final rounds? it would certainly make tiger proofing a genuine possibility, the world number one handicapped by ninja greenskeepers, exploding fairways and Bison every step of the way....I wonder how Mr Westwood would do in such circumstances?