Thursday, May 29, 2008

Is Muirfield That Bad?

Going into the Memorial today, a lot of people have been talking about the rough - Mickelson, the media, etc.

First, from Mike Collins over at the Golf Channel. (He made a bad joke at the Players, but this is useful information.)

The course is extremely hard. Deep bunkers with weird rakes that make deep grooves -- on purpose! The rough is deep enough that Mark Hensby told me if you get in it off the tee, “Get your lob wedge cause that’s all you’re gonna be able to get out. And if you miss the greens in the rough... you’re gonna be chipping twice cause the first one ain’t staying on the green.”

The greens were running so fast in the practice rounds, they’re not gonna mow a couple of them, and a couple of them they’re just gonna roll cause they’re too fast (when greens get to 14 on the stimpmeter there is a tough time finding four pin placements per green).

You’re definitely not gonna see double digits win this week and that’s exactly what they want here, but some of the guys on our broadcast think 4 OVER par might win. I hope not;, I understand nobody wants 17 under to win around here anymore, but don’t we already have a U.S. Open?
So far, the lead is -6. While I hate chopfests and deep rough, it seems like the players are getting by through day 1.

Last week's winner Mickelson, who was even today, had this to say in the pre-tournament presser:
Q. What sense did you get about the rough out there? Any different here than in the past years?

PHIL MICKELSON: It's very long and thick. I'm not a big fan of that. I like what we had last week where if you hit it in the rough you have to take some chances. I think the recovery shot's the most exciting shot in golf. And you have a lot of that at Augusta. You have a lot of that here. We had it at Wachovia where they cut the rough down a little bit just off the fairways so you could hit some recovery shots. That's not the case here. It's wedge-out rough. I'm not a big fan of that. But it is what it is.
Some mixed signals from Mickelson. There are some opportunities for recovery shots, but a lot of the rough appears to be chopout. That's boring. Remember, though, the PGA Tour sets up the courses - not Jack. Although he was the guy behind the rakes. He is also the guy saying that the rough isn't that bad.

Some beg to differ:
The list of the pros' favorite things, however, will never include the lighting-quick greens, sinkhole-deep bunkers and dozens of treacherous threats that Nicklaus built into the course.

And that list certainly won't include the rough at its current depth and consistency. A shot just a few feet off the generous fairways may or may not be findable. If a player locates his ball, the biggest problem is advancing it forward more than a few feet.

"The course has wide fairways so the penalty will be stiff if you miss,'' Mike Weir said.

Deep rough is bad enough but with the rain that always seems to pelt Muirfield Village the week of the tournament - and did again on Tuesday - the rough is downright dastardly.
On the plus side, there are wide fairways. On the downside, if you hit the rough, you can kiss par good night. That is almost some kind of weird US Open-Masters hybrid setup.

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