Reactions to the first four days of the Open:
- Reaction No. 1 comes from Brian Lange of Sanford, Florida, who says he is speaking for "Golf Fans Worldwide":
Dear Augusta National, After viewing the National Open at Torrey Pines, it has become eminently clear that birdies are ok, and eagles are fantastic. Please, bring back the roars. Let them birdie the par 4's and 3's, and at all costs, let them try to make eagles at 2, 8, 13, and 15. Double bogey's hold no interest for us. Eagles and clutch birdies make us appreciate your course even more. We don't care how far under par they are; we care about the excitement the pro's can produce. Again, bring back the roars. The Masters depends on it.
Interesting comment, Brian. Please note: There were http://www.usopen.com/en_US/scores/stats/index.html 11 on the weekend, 5 on Sunday. There were 19 eagles at the Masters, 10 on the weekend, 7 on Sunday. Sunday birdies at the Open: 212; at the Masters: 194.
Can't anybody hit a fairway? Having walked them, I can say that the fairways at Torrey Pines were not that narrow (22 to 50 yards). Nevertheless, it seemed that no one, even with a fairway wood in his hand, could hit one. Tiger Woods had a driving accuracy percentage of 53.57 %; Lee Westwood, 55.36%; Rocco Mediate, 64.29%. Not exactly laser.
Conclusion: Torrey Pines, especially Torrey Pines prepared by Mike Davis and the USGA, is a very seductive golf course. Contrast comments pre-Open this year with those last year at Oakmont. Oakmont was a monster but Torrey Pines was just "hard and fair". Everyone seemed to love the set-up this year (even Phil Mickelson, after criticism of the new back tee at No. 13, came around: "The golf course was, again, I think the best, fairest setup it's ever been. The mixture of tee boxes, the pin placements were all perfect to give the best players a chance to separate themselves.) No one I spoke to thought that Torrey Pines was as tough as Oakmont, not even close. Yes, the winning score wound up one under par versus five over, but remember there were two par 5s converted to par 4s last year, just one this year. Many journalists and some players thought that five or six under would win. Ironically, the amateurs who played in our Challenge event last week had similar reactions at their level. Prior to the Challenge round and after their practice rounds they seemed confident. And then reality set in. There is something very "playable" about Torrey, even at this length, that made all competitors think they had, well, more of a chance than they really did.