Thursday, June 12, 2008

Could a Birdie Win the Open?

Steve Elling makes a great point about the possibility of a birdie (or eagle....GASP!) winning the US Open on Sunday evening. It has not been done in 82 years, as Elling explains in a May 12 article:

Mike Davis, the director of rules and competition for the USGA, has fielded feedback from staffers, players and a number of helpful critics and conjured up the most enticing news at an Open venue in decades. The tee on the 18th, he said, will be positioned to allow even medium-length hitters a chance to reach the green in two.

"From a personal standpoint, nothing would please me more than to see giant swings in scoring on this hole," Davis told "A player eagling the 72nd hole to win would be a dream come true."

The last time a player won the Open by a shot with a birdie on the 72nd hole was in 1926, when Bobby Jones turned the trick at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio.

Eighty-two years? Relatively speaking, the days when amateurs like Jones ruled were when dinosaurs walked the earth. But since closing par-5 holes have been few -- the Open has mostly featured a tough par-4 as its closing hole -- opportunities for winning birdies have been greatly reduced. Indeed, there was considerable dissent within the USGA ranks about whether to convert the 18th at Torrey into a long par-4 hole in keeping with tradition over the years, but Davis' side won the spirited argument.
I am very happy that the USGA left 13 as the hole that will basically play as a lengthy par 3 for most players and kept the drama at 18.

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