Thursday, May 22, 2008

USGA Getting Creative with Torrey Pines

Saw this report in Golfweek, courtesy of Geoff Shackelford, and was blown away by its content. The USGA is considering shortening a hole. In fact, they are considering making it driveable. On Sunday. With the Open on the line.

Golfweek has learned that U.S. Golf Association will make the 14th hole at the South Course at Torrey Pines a driveable par 4 during the U.S. Open.

At Media Day last week, USGA director of rules and competition Mike Davis surprised the assembled scribes with reference to plans for a reachable par 4 – but refused to say which hole. Speculation immediately turned to the two shortest par 4s, the second and 10th.

Golfweek learned that the fairway toward the green of the par-4 14th hole (which normally plays 435 yards) recently was narrowed. The reason? It’s going to be played as a 277-yard par 4 on Open Sunday, with play proceeding from the forward tee and the hole cut front left on the green. The narrowed fairway approach makes sense for players opting to go for the putting surface. In all likelihood, they won’t even need a driver, and if they do hit it long, they’ll have to deal with a shaved-down rear bank that feeds into the irrecoverable canyon.
If you'll recall from Oakmont last year, the 17th was driveable also. Jim Furyk wasted his chances at the Open by going for it. Still, it created drama and caused me to think there was hope for the USGA yet. This, and the varying distances on several holes at Torrey Pines in the works, may keep me a big believer and backer of Mike Davis.

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