Thursday, June 5, 2008

Fears of a Rough Open

Mike Davis is probably one of the most accessible people in major championship golf. He is pretty honest about his setups - where they hit and miss. He is concerned about the rough at the Open, though it is only 2 3/4" in the worst spots and 2 1/4" in the primary cut. Thomas Bonk in the LA Time reports.

The rough is a combination of Kikuyu, over-seeded rye and poa annua, and that's what is concerning the USGA right now.

"It's almost beyond belief," said Mike Davis, senior director of rules and competitions who is in charge of setting up the course.

Davis walked the course late Monday afternoon and said he dropped about 250 balls in the rough to check the conditions.

Some of the balls sank deep in the grass, some went halfway and some sat right on top of the grass as if they were placed on a tee.

"We've never had rough this short, but we've never had Kikuyu in the mix," Davis said today. "My gosh, you could drop two balls only three inches from each other, and one disappears and the other stays right up on top. It's hard to believe. Is this the U.S. Open or the World Junior Championship?"

The USGA's philosophy about the first cut of rough is that it wants players to be able to play a shot forward toward the green, but it also wants the rough to hurt distance control. Davis said the USGA also likes the idea of inconsistency of lies in the rough, but at Torrey Pines right now there is too much inconsistency.

Davis said a specific cutting technique could help solve the problem.
Davis has gone on record saying that he expects a winning score that is under par. It also looks like he wants to protect fairness given that the rough is low already. As I have said before, Mike Davis has really impressed me in his tenure. I think his legacy will be shaped some by this week and could turn a new page in the history of Open setups. I hope he fixes his problem.

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