News & ToursJune 17, 2009

Highlights from the USGA press conference

FARMINGDALE, N.Y.--The USGA brass wore the standard issue blue blazers for their annual press conference the day before the start of the U.S. Open. Hearing them discuss the dire weather prediction for the next four days at Bethpage Black, though, you wouldn't have blamed them if they'd arrived already covered head-to-toe in GoreTex. Weather forecasters often need mulligans, but if the belief that rain will fall all four days of the championship is even half right, everybody is going to be in for a slog this week.

Regardless of how much precipitation falls, USGA championship chairman Jim Hyler was emphatic regarding one aspect of its effect on the event. Asked if he could envision any circumstance where the players would be allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls during competition, Hyler didn't hesitate with his single-word response.

"No."

So you're prepared to take this tournament into Monday or Tuesday?

"We'll stay here," Hyler said, "until we get a champion."

Hyler said the biggest area of concern, outside of lightning and water pools on the greens was the 18th fairway, which sits in a swampy area to begin with and could be particularly susceptible to standing water. "We've actually taken the greens rollers down there and tried to roll that fairway to move water," Hyler said. "So we'll just have to watch that very, very carefully."

Meanwhile, the yearly gathering with the media allowed the USGA to get caught up on a few other house-keeping chores. Having confirmed last Monday its plan to host the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst No. 2 on consecutive weeks in 2014 -- which GolfDigest.com first reported on Saturday -- Hyler "revealed" the executive committee's other worst kept secret: that the U.S. Open would return to Oakmont for a record ninth time in 2016.

Additionally, Hyler announced that Oregon's Bandon Dunes Resort will host the simultaneous playing of the men's and women's Amateur Public Links championships in 2011 (June 27-July 2). Hyler said there's been no decision made yet on which course would host the guys and which would host the girls.

Other notes:

  • According to USGA executive director David Fay, Pebble Beach continues to have an interest in hosting a future U.S. Women's Open. Three years ago, the USGA proudly announced that it would take the championship to the Monterey Peninsula sometime after the 2010 U.S. Open was played there. With Pinehurst getting the 2014 Women's Open, the earliest date for the women to visit California would be 2016.

"I've had conversations with them," Fay said. "[Their] interest is sincere, but the date was never set in stone. It was speculation, and that's great. But I can tell you that they remain interested."

  • USGA president Jim Vernon addressed a question regarding reports that manufacturers are lobbying the PGA Tour to not adopt the USGA's new groove regulations as a condition of competition in 2010. Interestingly, Vernon noted that if the tour does decide not to implement the new regulations, the USGA would also not adopt them for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

-- Ryan Herrington

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