124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2



August 11, 2009

CHASKA, Minn. -- It is becoming more and more apparent that professional golfers don't embrace the now-standard practice of lengthening golf courses, especially traditional layouts at major championships. More than 200 yards were added to Bethpage Black for the U.S. Open; and Hazeltine National Golf Club, site of this week's 91st PGA Championship, has been extended by 300 yards.

The way players see it, enough is enough.


"I think when you look at recent tournaments, whether it be majors or even regular events where the scores haven't been as low, it's sometimes not the longest golf courses," Lee Westwood said Wednesday. "You look at Turnberry, that's not the longest golf course. If you ask players how many drivers they hit, they didn't hit many drivers around Turnberry; yet, the winning score was still two‑under par.

"There are different ways of combating low scoring. Obviously lengthening golf courses is one of them. But I am of an opinion where if you tighten a golf course up and make the penalties for missing fairways and greens greater, that will combat low scoring.

"But at the same time, we're in the entertainment industry, and I think people would rather see birdies. I've never been too worried about 18‑under par or 16‑under par winning tournaments. Some of the most exciting tournaments are where there's been lots of birdies.

"I mean, I would rather sit and watch people make birdies rather than hitting into the rough and hack out and making bogey. How about you? Maybe sadistic, I don't know. " -- Westwood, when asked how he feels about the possibility of 8,000-yard golf courses

"We as players always feel that the hardest courses aren't necessarily the longest ones. By that, I mean if we get the greens firm and smaller greens and firmer greens, then the scoring automatically rises. And that's what we as players would feel.

"So it is a shame that sometimes these fantastic, traditional courses, this one and especially your fantastic courses on your Eastern seaboard there are becoming -- having to lengthen themselves. But we as players would almost prefer to have the smaller, firmer greens, and that would encourage having to hit the fairway anyway." -- *Colin Montgomerie * "The only downside I can see is the par 5s, maybe all of them are too long. It will be nice to have maybe one or two shorter ones that you can go for, because unless the course gets really, really firm, it's pretty much taking going for it in two out of play." -- Sergio Garcia on Hazeltine

"I was born in Austin. Lee Janzen was also born in Austin, Minnesota. After he won his second U.S. Open I told him, 'Lee you can't believe it I was back in Austin, Minnesota and there's a sign that says home of two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen'. He goes, 'Really?'

"Your picture and whole nine yards. All of a sudden: 'Austin, Minnesota home of Lee Janzen.' He went for 10 years thinking there was a big sign saying 'Welcome to Austin, Minnesota, population of 10,000, Home of Lee Janzen,' until I finally said, 'Lee, you're the most gullible guy I've ever met in all my life. I've been yanking your chain all these years." -- *Tom Lehman on good friend Lee Janzen * "I mean, if you look down at the numbers, unfortunately for us, I don't think Tiger's got a rival at the moment, and he's not letting it down. So he keeps playing really well. And you know, to be able to win an average of five, six or seven events a year is very, very impressive. It's not like he plays 35 or 40 tournaments a year, either. It's impressive to see what he does, yeah." -- *Garcia on Tiger Woods * "It's been an interesting year, and we've had some highs and lows. And I think that we'll have some more highs and lows for the next year or two. I think in the end everything's going to be fine. But right now I think things are day-to-day for us. That's both golf and not golf." -- Phil Mickelson on the state of his life and his wife Amy's battle with breast cancer

"Generally, you won't see the low‑spinning one quite as much. You'll see players having to stop it more with flight than the low checky one. And when you get in the rough around the greens, it will be a little harder.

"I'm all for the groove change because I don't miss too many greens on the stats. I tend to be pretty good tee‑to‑green. It's the people that miss a lot of fairways and a lot of greens that are going to suffer more." -- *Westwood, commenting on the last major championship players will be able to use square grooves *

"I think you kind of go around tweaking and fixing stuff. I feel like probably my game, my overall game is better now than it was in '99. I think that the beauty of when I came out is you know, when you are a youngster, I don't know, you don't care about anything. You just play and hit it and find it and you don't worry about missing a fairway here or missing a green there. You just go along like nothing happened.

"So that's the beauty of it. That's what we all try to get back. As you spend more and more time here, you start kind of seeing more things." -- Garcia, on trying to regain his youthful attitude on the course

"Crickey, if I knew what it was, that would be great. I mean, I guess I'm just getting more and more used to being in the major championships. " -- Ross Fisher, when asked why he has played so well in the last two major championships

"I think over here it's ‑‑ most weeks, it's a bomber's paradise. You just get driver out and you try and hit it as far as you can. You know, the greens are consistently ‑‑ they are better to putt on. They are a lot truer, but also they are very fast and very firm. So you know, over here, you need to hit it very, very high off the tee to hit it as far as you can, and come in with as short a club as possible." -- Fisher, on the difference between playing the PGA Tour and European Tour

"No, look at them all, they all look a bit odd, like they need to see somebody. I find it a bit hard to take anybody like that serious.

"Well, they do. I'm sorry. That's the way I see it. I've always felt mentally quite stable. Don't feel like I need it." -- Westwood, on why he has no plans to hire a sports psychologist

"I'm not really sure how it works in golf. I think from what I saw today, the fans have been supportive of all the players as they've come through and I think this is a great site to hold this championship on because of the way the people are.

"You still have to execute. You still have to hit the shots. You still have to make the putts and shoot low scores if you expect to win and nobody else can pull the trigger except for you." -- Mickelson, on whether cheering fans help him play better

Mark Soltau is a contributing editor to Golf Digest and the editor of TigerWoods.com.