Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Golf

U.S. Open: Other than tees, fairways and greens, Oakmont a snap

OAKMONT, Pa. — Geoff Ogilvy had the perfect description this week of Oakmont Country Club:

"We really should hate it because it's so hard. But that's impossible, because it's so good."

Oakmont, hosting its record ninth U.S. Open beginning today, is a guilty pleasure for the U.S. Golf Association and fans. It allows them to smirk as the world's best sweat and toil.

Oakmont's greens are as slick and sloping as those at Augusta National. Its thick, juicy rough is as gnarly as anywhere in the world. With nearly 14,000 trees on the course chopped down over the past 20 years, there are blind shots aplenty.

Oh, and there are the bunkers — 210 of them, including the infamous Church Pews. You could count the Pews as one massive bunker or 14 because it's divided by 12 large blocks of grass.

In coming from behind on Sunday to prevail by one shot over Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk in 2007, Angel Cabrera is Oakmont's last Open champion, and he finished 5 over.

Ogilvy predicted that between 3 over and 6 over would be the winning total, though that would be largely dependent on how much rain falls to soften up Oakmont. The bulk of the rain was supposed to arrive today.

The beauty of Oakmont is how little the USGA has to do to alter it for the U.S. Open. Oakmont's members like to brag that they play a major championship course every day.

"I think it accomplishes the goal that the members want, which is to have the hardest golf course in the world or America," Phil Mickelson said Wednesday. "I think there's no reprieve off the tee. … There's certainly no reprieve on the greens."

The one difference from past Opens is the rough, and though it gets gradually deeper away from the fairway, it's so consistently thick that even the strongest players will have to take a mighty swipe to get an approach anywhere close to the green.

"I don't know what kind of chemicals they put in that grass, but it's growing," said Ernie Els, who won the 1994 Open at Oakmont in a playoff after finishing at 5-under 279. He said his score strictly had to do with the rough.

"We could move the ball around," Els said. "It was almost more fun to play that way because you could get the ball to run toward the green.

"This one is going to test your resolve — mental, physical, everything. You're probably going to need a couple of days off after Sunday."

No Arnie: Arnold Palmer isn't feeling well enough to attend the U.S. Open, his press secretary, Doc Giffin, said. Palmer, 86, is from nearby Latrobe, and Oakmont is considered his home course for majors. "Arnold has had some serious mobility problems and has decided that it was going to be a bit too difficult for him to get down here," Giffin said Wednesday.

Palmer is in Latrobe this week. Oakmont's director of golf, Bob Ford, offered to have a driver take him from Latrobe to Oakmont. "I'll just cause a lot of confusion if I go," Palmer told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review at a meeting Tuesday of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority, of which he is a member. He said he planned to watch the Open on television.

Asked at the meeting to predict the winning score, he said shooting 288 "will be right on." That would be 8 over par.

Comments
Tommy Fleetwood repeats as champion at Abu Dhabi Championship

Tommy Fleetwood repeats as champion at Abu Dhabi Championship

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Tommy Fleetwood successfully defended his Abu Dhabi Championship title on Sunday after a sensational back nine to clinch the win. The Englishman, who celebrated his 27th birthday Friday, started the final round two s...
Published: 01/21/18
McIlroy shoots third-round 65, trails by 1 at Abu Dhabi

McIlroy shoots third-round 65, trails by 1 at Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Rory McIlroy fired 7-under 65 Saturday in the third round of the Abu Dhabi Championship to move one shot behind co-leaders Ross Fisher and Thomas Pieters. Fisher shot 65 and overnight leader Pieters added 67 to reach...
Published: 01/20/18
McIlroy returns from injury, trails by 3 in first round of European Tour event

McIlroy returns from injury, trails by 3 in first round of European Tour event

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Rory McIlroy’s patience was tested Thursday on his comeback, needing three late birdies to shoot 3-under 69 that left him three strokes behind first-round leaders Tommy Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara at the Abu Dhabi ...
Published: 01/18/18
Patton Kizzire beats James Hahn in marathon Sony Open playoff

Patton Kizzire beats James Hahn in marathon Sony Open playoff

HONOLULU — A day after a false alarm caused some panic at the Sony Open, there was more drama — of a much more benign sort.Patton Kizzire made par on the tournament-record sixth playoff hole Sunday to beat James Hahn and win his second PGA Tour title...
Published: 01/14/18
False alarm on missile launch triggers anxiety at PGA Tour event in Hawaii

False alarm on missile launch triggers anxiety at PGA Tour event in Hawaii

HONOLULU — Charles Howell was eating breakfast in his hotel when the restaurant at the Kahala started buzzing. Everyone had their phones. Everyone received the same push alert. "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS...
Published: 01/13/18
Brian Harman extends good play in Hawaii, takes Sony Open lead

Brian Harman extends good play in Hawaii, takes Sony Open lead

HONOLULU — Different islands, vastly different golf courses, same good play from Brian Harman. One week after Harman shared the 36-hole lead at Kapalua, he ran off three straight birdies and closed with a 15-foot eagle putt for 7-under 63 and a three...
Published: 01/12/18
Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson share lead at PGA’s Sony Open in Hawaii

Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson share lead at PGA’s Sony Open in Hawaii

HONOLULU — Zach Johnson and Chris Kirk kept clean cards on a gorgeous day and each shot 7-under 63 Thursday to share the lead after the first round of the Sony Open. Jordan Spieth wasn’t as fortunate. Spieth hit four trees with four shots on the par-...
Published: 01/11/18
Dustin Johnson romps to 8-shot victory in Hawaii

Dustin Johnson romps to 8-shot victory in Hawaii

KAPALUA, Hawaii — A new year brought out the best in Dustin Johnson, who powered his way to 8-under 65 and an eight-shot victory Sunday in the Tournament of Champions. In a field that featured the top-five players in the world, Johnson made a strong ...
Updated one month ago
Missouri senior uses playoff birdie to win New Year’s Invitational in St. Petersburg

Missouri senior uses playoff birdie to win New Year’s Invitational in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Cold and windy conditions didn’t affect Hayden Buckley last year when he won the New Year’s Invitational, and they didn’t affect him again this year in the 92nd edition of the event.The University of Missouri senior repeated as champ...
Updated one month ago

Dustin Johnson surges into lead at Tournament of Champions

KAPALUA, Hawaii — Dustin Johnson holed out with a wedge for eagle, made birdie on every par 5 and powered his way to 7-under 66 to build a two-shot lead going into the final round of the Tournament of Champions. Coming off his lone bogey from a poor ...
Updated one month ago