Monday, June 30, 2008

US Women's Open ...Too Easy?

Normally, people complain that the Open setup is too hard. Karrie Webb, who finished about a million strokes out of the lead at Interlachen (actually, 15), thinks that Mike Davis and crew set up the Open to be too simple. What?

Former world No.1 Webb believes the Interlachen course is playing far too easily for the biggest championship in women's golf, and she lays the blame firmly with the United States Golf Association.

And with 19 players under par after the third round, and leader Stacy Lewis on nine-under 210, Webb made a valid point.

"I really don't understand what the USGA have tried to achieve this week, because they've kept the greens soft all week," said the two-time Open champion, who was 12 strokes from the lead.

Didn't it rain?! That would hurt that a lot. Anyway, Webb complains that the course was so soft that it made ballstriking not as important as putting.

Webb believes that firm greens reward the best ball strikers, those who can control the distance they hit their approach shots, but that soft greens have made the Open more of a putting contest.

"It opens it up to people who don't have great distance control and to me that's what the US Open is about, good ball-striking.

"If you're putting yourself in positions where you should be, you're supposed to be at an advantage, but I don't think it's playing that way right now."

Mike Davis came to his own defense on the allegations:

Mike Davis, the USGA official responsible for the course set-up, said the greens had been the same speed and firmness every day, including practice days.

"No disrespect to Karrie, but this is as consistent (a course set-up) as I've ever seen," he said.

First of all, I love the "no disrespect" line. After watching Talladega Nights the other day, I am going to begin using that line to make putrid remarks about people. I'm a little off track, though.

The real point is whether or not the Open was too easy. 12 players finished under par this week. That is unusually high for any Open. Pine Needles had five finish under par last year. But that played to a par of 71.

Interlachen's par was rigged by Davis and the USGA to play at an unheard of 73 with five par 5s. Let's just say that Interlachen was instead set up to play at par 71 but kept the same layout. That would knock off 8 shots to total par. In that case, only In-Bee Park would have finished under par. The artificial par made scoring look better than it really was.

In-Bee did kind of prove Webb's theory, though. If you look at my instant final round analysis, it shows that In-Bee was not very solid in the fairways and greens department. She won on putting, by finishing 2nd in that statistic. Among the top 14 putters this week, 8 of them finished sixth or better. Maybe she has a point.

But, if that was the key - and the Open was a putting contest - Webb should have fared much better than she did. She is T29 in putts per hole this season on the LPGA Tour. That's in the top 25% of all players. She is also 122 in driving accuracy, which should not have hurt her if this was just a putting contest. Also, being 13th in greens in regulation for the year would lead you to believe that there is little correlation between her poor driving and hitting greens. She should not have had a problem in putting the ball in the correct position and subsequently making putts.

Too easy? Maybe. But, if so, Webb should have finished a whole lot better.

1 comment:

The Constructivist said...

The good people at Golf Observer have argued that putting wins Opens. I think Webb was just ticked off at her putter and taking it out on Mike Davis. Rain could have had something to do with the greens being softer than expected, right?