Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Observations before the U.S. Open

Clearing up a few things before the U.S. Open begins:

Mother Nature must’ve thought Oakmont was too tough for the U.S. Open.
Despite the wishes of the USGA, a heavy thunderstorm drenched Oakmont Wednesday afternoon at 5 p.m., immediately changing the texture of the tournament.

Had it not rained, Oakmont was primed to play firm and fast with the green speeds being measured in nanoseconds.
But the rain changed everything. The course will play softer now, especially Thursday morning when play begins. It will be easier to attack hole locations but the rough, already a gnarly mess, will be more menacing.

Phil Mickelson played nine holes Wednesday at Oakmont, completing his final preparation for the Open, but he still has not hit a driver this week.
Mickelson, nursing inflammation in his left wrist, decided not to test his hand with a driver swing during his practice sessions Tuesday and Wednesday. Mickelson intends to use his driver in the tournament but took a more conservative approach in practice.
He looked just fine when he striped a long iron shot to within four feet of the hole at the 18th Wednesday afternoon, before adjourning to the practice green for some work and, finally, icing his wrist.

By the time the U.S. Open returns to Pinehurst in 2014, Davis Love III will be eligible for the Champions Tour and the Open will seem fresh again at Pinehurst.
It was terrific two years ago at No. 2 but coming just six years after the first Open, it felt familiar. It will be different in 2014.

In case you were wondering, a few players have hit irons into the 288-yard, par-3 eighth hole during practice rounds. Hybrids and 3-woods have been the most popular club choice, however.

Interesting scene on the practice tee Wednesday – Vijay Singh warming up while talking to Chi Chi Rodriguez, who was wearing a black leather jacket despite temperatures in the low 80s. Wonder if Vijay was asking permission to start using Chi Chi’s famous sword dance after birdies?