How it was relegated from the front pages I’ll never know, but it’s worth mentioning that yesterday was Congressional Country Club’s US Open Championship Media Day. Defending champion Graeme McDowell, USGA head honcho Mike Davis and other assorted bigwigs, including the improbably named Rand Jerris, held a press conference in preparation for the preparation for the year’s second major in which they outlined the rational basis for the course set-up.
Amid a lot of talk about fairness, excitement and history lay the rather unsurprising news that this year’s lay-out will be extra long– a punishing 7,545-yard par 71, in fact– with green speeds most likely in excess of fourteen on the stimpmeter.
In spite of what would appear to be prohibitive conditions, then, Mike Davis seemed confident that the course can produce a fair and exciting outcome:
“This philosophy is, in short, the U.S. Open should be the most rigorous, the most difficult yet fair test in championship golf, an examination which tests both the players’ physical capabilities, including all shot making, also tests the players’ mental capabilities and tenacity… In conclusion, we want well-executed shots rewarded and poorly executed shots penalized…
“Everybody loves that back nine at Augusta National. Why do you love it? It’s not only pretty and it’s got some wonderful holes architecturally, but you can see eagles, but on the same holes you can see bogeys and double bogeys. We love that. That changes that leaderboard quickly. So to the extent that we can do that with our setup, we like doing that.”
Forgive my skepticism, but isn’t this the same sort of blather that precedes the US Open every single year, just before we’re served up another interminable 72-hole helping of unreachable par-fours, defensive putting and wedges up the fairway?
Mike Davis is a reformist in the same way that some religious leaders are; as even-handed and sensible as he may seem in interview, he’s still bound by the old ideological positions. In the case of the USGA, all talk of fairness and excitement fails to trouble the cult of Level Par as a Winning Score.
Just in case you had irrationally high hopes for Congressional, Davis dropped a big hint of what’s to come yesterday:
“It’s going to play every bit of its 7,545 yards.”