News & ToursJune 12, 2008

Verdi: Torrey Pines is No Oakmont

LA JOLLA, Calif. -- It's very early in the U.S. Open, but it looks as though the boys of summer were correct in predicting Torrey Pines South will be playable. Not easy, but playable enough to produce a winning score under par for a change.

There were forecasts for another in a series of June bloodbaths, particularly when the dimensions for this year's national championship (7,643 yards, longest ever) were unveiled. But after a few practice rounds, participants expressed optimism that they might not be embarrassed. Mind you, that could be revised, especially if Jesper Parnevik's observation about the greens is true.

"We had a cloud cover early this week," he said, "but the natives tell me that only a few hours of sun will bake them, just like that."

Thursday was a shiny day, and as we predicted, Justin Hicks posted a 68 in the morning and gave everybody something to shoot at. A year ago, players wanted to shoot themselves at Oakmont, but Torrey Pines is no Oakmont, at least not yet. The USGA folks claim that the rough here is not as penal as it was in Pittsburgh -- at least not the first cut of the graduated rough. Three different grasses are involved, creating some uncertainty. But the ball can also sit up on occasion, as Bubba Watson learned when he pulled driver from just off the fairway at No. 9 earlier in the week.

One also supposes that the weather is helpful toward better scoring, because the temperatures are comfortable with a slight, cooling breeze. Golfers don't feel like they're in an oven. Naturally, if the wind happens to howl off the Pacific Ocean before Sunday, numbers could change, and so could golfers' moods. But I haven't heard any screaming yet, except for the teenage girl who got a close-up look Thursday at Adam Scott, a handsome fellow. Or maybe she was screaming because she got a close-up look at me.

I asked a local marshal about weather patterns and was told that a Santa Ana wind, coming from the desert inland, could really heat things up. "But don't worry about the eddy," she said.

Eddy? I realize they give hurricanes names, but I didn't know they have hurricanes in San Diego.

"No, an eddy is a cold front that just kind of hangs over the coastline," she explained. "That's what creates the fog. We call it an eddy. Or a coastal eddy."

Coastal Eddy? I think I saw his picture in the post office the other day.

-- Bob Verdi

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