By John Strege
The “stuff,” as ESPN’s Paul Azinger and others called the sandy native areas at Pinehurst No. 2, presumably employing a euphemism, was the centerpiece of first-round television coverage of the U.S. Open in which the course played a starring role.
Webb Simpson playing from the 'stuff' (Getty Images photo)
“You better have a good attitude around here,” Azinger said. “You have to forgive the broadcasters this week if they overuse the word luck or lucky.”
“Isn’t that a big part of it in the U.S. Open?” Curtis Strange asked?
“Here more than any U.S. Open I’ve ever seen,” Azinger replied. “I talked to [Tom] Weiskopf about this the other day, and he thought luck was as much a factor here as any U.S. Open he’s ever seen with the native grasses and all that. I think luck is big part of this.
“It’s so unique to a U.S. Open. Never seen anything like this in modern day golf where there’s no rough. There’s only two mower cuts. You either have the fairway or the green cut. Then you have this stuff. I like what Curtis says, ‘it’s like the worst looking yard you’ve ever seen.’”
NBC’s Johnny Miller gave it his stamp of approval. “I think [Bill] Coore and [Ben] Crenshaw did a good job in the restoration,” he said. “In reality the rough I think is actually slightly easier — I call it rough, the sandy rough — than it was in ’99 and 2005.
“The leaderboard is unbelievably great. Every good player’s up there. Whatever they did it’s kept the good players, the notables, in a position to win and that’s what you want in a championship.”
Guess the broadcaster
Who said this, when a Kevin Na chip-in was shown? “Na Na hey hey kiss him hello.”
You are correct. ESPN’s Chris Berman. Sigh.
Kevin Tway hit what presumably was a great approach to the 10th green, only to watch his ball carom off the pin and roll off the green and into a bunker.
“And they wonder why we cuss,” Strange said.
It could have gotten confusing finding the U.S. Open on television. It began on ESPN Thursday morning, then went to NBC, which threw it to ESPN2, which handed it back to ESPN.
The World Cup soccer game between Brazil and Croatia was shown on ESPN, which explains why ESPN2 had a spot in the rotation.
‘Bigger the event, the better he gets’
Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee on Jordan Spieth: “Newspapers get bigger on Sunday. Something about Jordan Spieth, he’s like that Sunday newspaper. The bigger the event the better he gets. It just brings out the best in him. Sundays and big events are about having a clear head. That’s the stuff we can’t see. We can see it and we can’t see it. In a lot of ways it’s more conspicuous than the stats, because these guys keep popping up and showing you what they have inside at biggest events. That’s what’s cool about him.”
Azinger and the fairway wood as a chipper
Azinger questioned the wisdom of using a fairway wood with which to chip on Pinehurst’s crowned greens, after witnessing Justin Rose’ poor attempt to do so from behind the 17th green.
“I don’t understand this,” he said. “You hit millions of putts with the putter and maybe dozens of putts with this club [fairway wood]. I just don’t know why the need for a change. The ball’s going to bounce whether you hit it with a putter or that club.”