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US Open - Torrey Pines

Discussion in 'All Other San Diego Sports' started by wrbanwal, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    First installment

    And The Winner Is ----------


    By Phillip Howley

    Now that the PGA Tour has reached an approximate halfway point in the season, now that the Masters Tournament and The Players Championship – aka the “fifth major” – have provided major championship clarity, now that battle lines have been drawn and patterns established, it is time.

    Time, that is, to look ahead to Torrey Pines Golf Course, look ahead to the USGA’s second oldest championship – the first U.S. Amateur was conducted a day earlier in 1895 – and ask the question: Who do you like to win the U.S. Open?

    Here is the skinny on 20 candidates.

    Tiger Woods - The two-time U.S. Open winner may need a “simulated game” before Torrey Pines. Last time he played in the national championship after a long layoff - 2006 - Woods missed the cut by three strokes. That’s the only time he’s been cut at a major in his professional career.

    Angel Cabrera - Seems unlikely Jackie Gleason could win the U.S. Open two years in succession. A repeat champion hasn’t happened since Curtis Strange doubled up in 1988-89. The honeymoon(ers) might be over for the Argentinean.

    Phil Mickelson – Torrey Pines is terra firma for Lefty, where he grew up, where he has succeeded in the past. Perhaps the home cooking will be chicken soup for his Winged Foot-tortured, U.S. Open soul.

    Sergio Garcia – His work with Stan Utley has improved his putting stroke, as he demonstrated with several clutch rolls to win The Players Championship. Perhaps “El Nino” is ready for a first major, perhaps a European will win for the first time since Britain’s Tony Jacklin in 1970.

    John Daly - No shirt, no shoes, no Open.

    THAT WAS PAINFUL TO SEE!!! :icon_eek::icon_eek::icon_eek:

    Boo Weekley – His name is one San Diego Padres fans can appreciate, which will make Weekley a gallery favorite at Torrey Pines.


    Adam Scott - This is, after all, the year of the 20-somethings. Considered a budding star for several seasons, the 27-year old Aussie is among nine players in their 20s with PGA Tour wins this season. Provided he doesn’t run low on dilithium crystals, Mr. Scott could keep the trend going.

    Trevor Immelman - The 28-year-old Masters winner already has a USGA championship at Torrey Pines to his credit – the 1998 U.S. Public Links.

    J.B. Holmes – Long-hitting Holmes is making a strong bid to make the Ryder Cup team. The U.S. Open title would seal the deal.

    Anthony Kim - Some are suggesting the 22-year old Wachovia Championship winner might be the next Tiger Woods. Won’t believe it until he bungee jumps and undergoes multiple knee surgeries … and wins a major.

    Stewart Cink - He’s having a terrific season, with six top-10 finishes. If not for a 2-foot miss on the 72nd hole at Southern Hills in 2001, he might have “U.S. Open champion” on the resume.

    Ernie Els - “Big Easy” is now 11 years removed from his second U.S. Open triumph (1997). His win at the Honda Classic earlier in the year, and a tie for sixth at The Players, suggests he still is a threat.

    Ryuji Imada - Could become the first Scrabble word to win the U.S. Open title.

    Padraig Harrington – Became the first Irishman to win the British Open in 60 years last summer. And as they say on the Emerald Isle, “Here’s to a long life, and a merry one; a quick death, and an easy one; a pretty girl, and an honest one; an open championship – and another one.”

    K.J. Choi – Has never had a top-10 finish in the U.S. Open or in the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines. So, while he may look like a U.S. Open contender to some, he’s Choi to the fishes in the deep blue sea, Choi to you and me.

    Retief Goosen – Has two U.S. Opens (2001, 2004) to his credit, but it hasn’t been happening lately. He is statistically out of the top-100 in Driving Distance, Driving Accuracy, Putting and Greens in Regulation on the PGA Green. That’s not good for the “Goose,” or the gander.

    Geoff Ogilvy – It’s been an up-and-down year for the 2004 U.S. Open champ. He won the WGC CA Championship but has four missed cuts, including the Buick Invitational and, more recently, The Players Championship.

    Rory Sabbatini – The diminutive South African has replaced Ian Woosnam as the Best Member of the Lollipop Guild to Never Win An Open Championship. Sabbatini has not been noticeable lately, but he tied for third in the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines back in January.

    Vijay Singh – His three major wins do not include a U.S. Open. He will be 45 years and nearly four months of age when they tee off at Torrey Pines, which is older than Hale Irwin was when he won at age 45 in 1990. Still, you know what they say: it’s not over until the Vijay Singh.

    Jim Furyk – With a slow start to 2008, it looked like his game had been shot. But hell hath no Furyk like the U.S. Open. The 2003 champ, Furyk has tied for second in each of the last two nationals.
  2. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005


    A look at the field

    2:14 p.m. June 6, 2008

    This year's tournament consists of 156 players, 57 of them exempt players.

    Nonexempt players qualified for the Open through sectional qualifying tournaments, open to any pro or amateur player with a handicap index not exceeding 1.4. The USGA this year accepted 8,390 entries to play in those qualifiers.

    The field will be cut after 36 holes to the low 60 scorers (and ties) and any player within 10 strokes of the leader.

    The tournament purse is $7 million, with the winner to receive $1.26 million.


    (Listed only in the first category for which they were eligible; a-amateur)

    U.S. Open champions (past 10 years): Angel Cabrera, Geoff Ogilvy, Michael Campbell, Retief Goosen, Jim Furyk, Tiger Woods, Lee Janzen.

    Winner and runner-up of the 2007 U.S. Amateur: a-Michael Thompson.

    Masters champions (past five years): Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson.

    British Open champions (past five years): Padraig Harrington, Todd Hamilton, Ben Curtis.

    PGA champions (past five years): Vijay Singh.

    2007 U.S. Senior Open champion: Brad Bryant.

    2008 Players Championship winner: Sergio Garcia.

    Top 15 finishers and ties from the 2007 U.S. Open: Niclas Fasth, David Toms, Bubba Watson, Nick Dougherty, Scott Verplank, Jerry Kelly, Justin Rose, Stephen Ames, Paul Casey, Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, Aaron Baddeley.

    Top 30 players from the 2007 PGA Tour money list: K.J. Choi, Rory Sabbatini, Adam Scott, Mark Calcavecchia, Woody Austin, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Ernie Els, Tim Clark, Boo Weekley, John Rollins, Stewart Cink, Steve Flesch, Robert Allenby, Brett Wetterich, Luke Donald, Heath Slocum.

    2007 Tour Championship Field: Camilo Villegas, Jonathan Byrd.

    Top 15 players from the 2007 PGA European Tour money list: Henrik Stenson, Andres Romero, Soren Hansen, Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Richard Sterne.

    Top 10 players from the 2008 PGA Tour money list on May 26: Ryuji Imada, Anthony Kim, Jeff Quinney.

    Any multiple winners on the PGA Tour from April 27, 2007 through June 1, 2008: Daniel Chopra.

    Top two players from the 2008 European Tour money list on May 26: Miguel Angel Jimenez, Oliver Wilson.

    Top two players from the 2007 Japan Golf Tour money list, provided they were in the Top 75 in the world ranking: Toru Taniguchi, Shingo Katayama

    Top 50 in the world ranking on May 26: Ian Poulter, Stuart Appleby, Robert Karlsson, Sean O'Hair, Martin Kaymer, Justin Leonard, Mike Weir, J.B. Holmes, Rod Pampling.

    Sectional qualifying (36 holes): Craig Parry, Artemio Murakami, Alastair Forsyth, Ross Fisher, Robert Dinwiddie, Phillip Archer, Ross McGowan, Johan Edfors, Thomas Levet, Jason Bohn, Matt Kuchar, D.J. Trahan, Carl Pettersson, Bart Bryant, Ben Crane, a-Derek Fathauer, Joe Ogilvie, Robert Garrigus, a-Kevin Tway, Dean Wilson, Fredrik Jacobson, Jarrod Lyle, John Mallinger, a-Kyle Stanley, Nick Watney, Davis Love III, Jesper Parnevik, Pat Perez, Justin Hicks, Rocco Mediate, Chad Campbell, Dustin Johnson, Steve Marino, Eric Axley, Jonathan Mills, Rich Beem, Mark O'Meara, Jason Gore, Michael Allen, Craig Barlow, a-Nick Taylor, John Merrick, Brett Quigley, Patrick Sheehan, D.J. Brigman, Scott Sterling, Michael Letzig, Brandt Jobe, Mathew Goggin, Rickie Fowler.

    Local (18 holes) and sectional qualifying: Kevin Silva, Yohann Benson, Jeffrey Bors, Mike Gilmore, Charlie Beljan, Bob Gaus, David Hearn, Brian Bergstol, Hunter Haas, Chris Kirk, Ian Leggatt, D.A. Points, Jonathan Turcott, Brian Kortan, Jay Choi, Peter Tomasulo, Andrew Dresser, Fernando Figueroa, Chris Devlin, Sean English, a-Jimmy Henderson, John Ellis, Garrett Chaussard, a-Jeff Wilson, a-Jordan Cox, Rob Rashell, Bobby Collins, Philippe Gasnier, Joey Lamielle, Scott Piercy, a-Michael Quagliano, Kevin Streelman, Chris Stroud, Travis Bertoni, Casey Wittenberg.
  3. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    Recipe for trouble


    Forget Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

    Angels and Demons. Those are the ultimate rivals in the U.S. Open.

    Every golfer will step to the tee at Torrey Pines come Thursday, and there will be two voices buzzing in his head.

    The Angel will tell him that he is about to partake in the world's most demanding golf championship, and that he has the ability to withstand all of the intentional obstacles and the fickle fortune thrown his way.

    He will get outrageously bad lies in the rough, be required to hit shots he never dreamed of practicing, see putts that defy the laws of gravity.

    "You can handle this," the Angel will say.

    The Demon will tell him that he is not worthy of this test, that he should be home on the couch, that the course is unfair, that the U.S. Golf Association is composed of wicked sadists who are out to ruin and embarrass him.

    "Run for your life!" the Demon will say.

    That's the U.S. Open. Love and Hate. Fight or Flight. The emotions can change in the blink of an eye.

    "I just love the way," mused Charles Howell III, "that they make you walk the line between looking like a total idiot and showing who is truly the best."

    Not a competitive ball has been struck on Torrey Pines' South Course for the 108th U.S. Open, and this can be guaranteed: There are players who have no chance to win this week. Not because they lack the skill, but they've already psyched themselves out.

    "The mechanical abilities of this game are not hard to come by if you don't do anything but play," said Frank "Sandy" Tatum, an 86-year-old past president of the USGA. "But what makes this game so absolutely, compellingly fascinating is the mental side of it.

    "The combination of course setups and what (the U.S. Open) can mean to a player's career if he wins ... those don't exist anywhere else. That combination serves a useful purpose in identifying who is the best."

    Over his four victories and 38 years in the U.S. Open, Jack Nicklaus saw it in his opponents' eyes, felt it as he sampled their whine.

    "There's a lot of fellas who show up on Monday of the tournament and they are scared of the rough," Nicklaus recalled recently. "They yell about the height of it. They yell about the firmness of the greens. They yell about this and they yell about that. And by the time Thursday rolls around, they're so wound up about everything that's wrong, they can't do anything right."

    Never in golf is there more bellyaching than at the U.S. Open. The suffering can be the best part of the show. Many fans love it because they get to see their idols play like mortals for a week.

    The USGA believes, unapologetically, that its championship must be the ultimate examination of a player's game, from his ability to keep the ball in the fairway and strike precise iron shots, to possessing a stroke deft enough to putt on tilted glass.

    "The challenge is well-defined," said former player and NBC commentator Roger Maltbie. "Your job as a player is to swing well enough to keep the ball in between the jungle on the left and the jungle on the right."

    Some guys relish the challenge.

    "You've got to love being out there," said reigning Masters champion Trevor Immelman. "You've got to love the adversity of just every shot being one of the toughest you'll ever have to hit."

    Others dread it. Reporters' notebooks have been filled through the years with the venom players have spewed about the "Open setup."

    Dave Stockton: "If the USGA could put lakes in the middle of every green, they would."

    Art Wall: "The Open is the World Series of golf, and the baseball people don't put rocks in the infield in the World Series."

    Five-time major winner Seve Ballesteros: "Sure it's a major. But it's not a good tournament because 80 percent of the game in the U.S. Open is about hitting the fairways. It takes away the skill factor.

    "Everyone wants to compete in the U.S. Open, but when they get there, they hope the week would end quickly."

    Of course, the Spaniard's wild driving sent him on more explorations than Cabrillo, so he never came close to winning the U.S. Open.

    Still, as long as U.S. Open courses have been fashioned by the USGA to be intentionally tough -- and that dates at least to 1951 and "The Monster" of Oakland Hills -- players have accused the USGA of ulterior motives. One of the most popular is that a body that governs mostly amateur golf tournaments doesn't mind rubbing the pros' faces in the ample rough once a year.

    Frank Beard, an 11-time PGA Tour winner from the '60s, wrote in a Golf Digest column: "I can take any course in the world and trick it up so nobody can break 100, but the object isn't to keep the scores as high as possible. It's almost as if the Open has boiled down to a contest between the pros and the USGA."

    Some of the trouble through the years is that the players have been justified in their complaints. With its extreme setup, the USGA walks a tightrope wearing ice skates. It takes only one variable to go haywire and produce chaos.

    In '98 at the Olympic Club, the severe placement of the 18th hole on Friday drew angry comparisons to putt-putt golf. At Bethpage in '02, on a rainy and windy Friday, the par-4 10th required a 270-yard carry to a 30-yard-wide fairway lined with tall fescue. The players were a tad miffed.

    Probably the best example of a setup gone wrong is 2005 at Shinnecock Hills. A faulty forecast led to no water for the greens as the wind howled Saturday evening, and by Sunday morning they were nearly dead. The first three players triple-bogeyed the most affected green at No. 7, and there, Kevin Stadler lipped out a 2-foot putt and his ball eventually trickled into a bunker.

    Tom Meeks, the USGA's setup chief at the time, later said he seriously considered the unprecedented move of calling off the round and starting over. Instead, the greens were watered during the round, to the dismay of the players who had already suffered.

    "When are they going to grow a head?" the excitable Jerry Kelly ripped afterward. "Get off your high horse and be good to the game. It's an ego contest."

    It is anything but, insists Mike Davis, the current USGA director of rules and competitions. Thoughtful and soft-spoken, Davis is about as far from playing the villain as a human can get. He says "gosh" a lot and his voice and mannerisms suggest a '50s TV dad.

    "I just want us to do everything we can to make it a really stern test," Davis said. "But I don't want it to become unfair."

    With a minuscule margin for error, Davis says mistakes are going to happen.

    "I guarantee you that in the future I will screw up," Davis, 43, said. "You think about it, and know that it will be awful when it happens. But you don't try to make excuses. You admit to it, and you hope the players and the golf world will forgive you."

    Davis took over for Meeks in 2006. He introduced several new wrinkles to the Open setup: "graduated" rough that should penalize the most wayward shots; alternating tee boxes to present different challenges; and a stated goal of having the course play the same in practice rounds as it does for the tournament.

    The result of his first two setups: Geoff Ogilvy (Winged Foot) and Angel Cabrera (Oakmont) each won at 5-over -- the highest winning scores since Hale Irwin's 7-over victory in the 1974 "Massacre at Winged Foot."

    This is the kinder and gentler USGA?

    Davis laughed.

    "The point is absolutely spot-on," he said, before admitting he might have underestimated the thickness of the rough at both venues. "But if you look back at the comments, I think they were consistently, 'Wow, this is a hard, hard golf course, but fair.'"

    At the end of the week, it is Davis' hope the players are saying that about Torrey Pines, the longest course in U.S. Open history, a track Mickelson has called the hardest in the world.

    What possible pratfalls await Davis and the players at Torrey?

    He will keep a sharp eye on the par-5 13th and the 614-yard back tee that requires a 240-yard carry over a canyon. The players were criticizing that one months in advance.

    He will have his finger in the air to test the ocean breeze. Davis desperately wants some wind this week, but too much would make holes such as the 504-yard, par-4 12th pure torture.

    Davis already has taken considerable measures to keep cutting the stiff, wiry kikuyu rough so it doesn't become impossible, yet it still figures to have the biggest say in who wins this Open. He has surmised that it could be inconsistently penal.

    "Part of me thinks that's pretty neat," Davis said. "Who said the thing is supposed to be consistent? A guy's going to have to look down at his ball and try to figure out what's going to happen."

    We know what will happen. The golfer examines the half of the ball he can see. The Angel whispers "punch out." The Demon demands, "Go for it!"

    And in that drama lies the beauty of the U.S. Open.
  4. Ride The Lightning

    Ride The Lightning Join the Dark Side, we have cookies.

    Aug 15, 2006
    Anybody going?

    I forgot to get tix.

  5. rexy2006

    rexy2006 Well-Known Member

    Dec 17, 2005
    :icon_banana:I'M GOING SATURDAY!!!:icon_banana:
  6. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    GO LEFTY!!!! :tup:
  7. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005



  8. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    TOUR Insider: Not your normal Torrey Pines


    Forget that Tiger Woods has won the last four editions of the Buick Invitational and the last six overall at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Calif.

    That Phil Mickelson and Pat Perez grew up playing golf at Torrey Pines is worth noting -- up to a point. Likewise, the fact that Masters champion Trevor Immelman is returning this week to the site of his U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship should be kept in perspective.

    course tour

    Local knowledge should never be dismissed, but it might need to be discounted a bit when the 108th U.S. Open begins Thursday on the South Course at Torrey Pines. The aforementioned players have a measure of intimacy with the municipal course spread along the bluffs overlooking the Pacific, but many PGA TOUR players are by varying, though perhaps lesser, degrees also familiar with Torrey Pines.

    That would be the South Course that is damp and soft with scarce rough and tepid greens. That would be the South Course that plays to roughly 7,500 yards, par 72, with wide fairways.

    That South Course they won't be seeing this week. Instead, the players competing in the year's second major will encounter the full challenge that Rees Jones infused into the layout when he renovated Torrey South in 2001 and which the U.S. Golf Association has buttressed with its usual setup parameters.

    Torrey South, the second municipal course to host the Open and the first course not ranked among the top 100 in the U.S. by any of several ranking sources, could play up to 7,643 yards, nearly 400 yards more than any previous U.S. Open examination. It's been altered to a par-71 track with the conversion of the sixth hole from a par-5 to a 515-yard par-4. The Kikuyu grass fairways, which should be drier and yield more roll, will be pinched in to as little as 24 yards across and lined by steely rough measuring from 1 ¾ inches to more than 3 ½ inches. Finally, greens that crawled at 11 on the Stimpmeter will approach speeds of 13 or more.

    "Torrey Pines already is a solid golf course; it's already pretty hard," Stewart Cink, who tied for third at this year's Buick Invitational, said. "But I think we better be ready for a really difficult week of golf. It's a scenic place, but I won't be looking around a whole lot. I'm going to need to have total focus on what I'm doing. There won't be an easy shot anywhere."

    Mickelson, who lately has been schooling himself on the course he probably knows better than any other, said that a score of about 5 over par, which was good enough to win the last two U.S. Opens, might be handsome enough to do the trick again.

    "It's going to be hard in ways we've seen at a U.S. Open, but just not at Torrey Pines," he said. "But I'm looking forward to the challenge."

    Woods, whose health status is not known after knee surgery following the Masters, won this year's Buick Invitational at 19 under par (with the help of 7-under 65 on the cupcake North Course). That means he averaged 4 under on his three days on the South.

    He, and everyone else, won't likely sniff such numbers this week. To paraphrase Bobby Jones, they'll all be playing a course with which they are not familiar.


    • The pairing of the top three players in the world rankings -- Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott -- for the opening two rounds of the U.S. Open will bring together Woods and Mickelson for just the 22nd and 23rd rounds in their professional careers. Of those, only three rounds have been in major championships: the third round of the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 and the opening two rounds of the 2006 PGA when Woods won the British Open and Mickelson won the Masters.

    • If you're wondering who has the edge at Torrey Pines between the top two players, one has to look beyond the six Buick Invitational titles Woods has compared to three for Mickelson. First, five of Woods' victories have come after the Rees Jones renovation in 2001. The last of Mickelson's came in '01. Here's a more telling statistic: Starting in 2002, Woods has a 69.19 scoring average on the South Course, while Mickelson's is 71.68.

    • Woods might have six Buick Invitational titles, but his victory in the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links may have been his one national title in California, if history is a guide. In the other eight most recent U.S. Open tournaments played in the state of California, eight different men emerged with the victory.

    • There are eight former U.S. Open champions in the field, including multiple winners Woods, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Lee Janzen, who is the last year of his exemption run following his 1998 victory at Olympic Club in San Francisco. Sixteen other entrants join those eight men as former winners of USGA events.

    • Angel Cabrera has quit smoking as he prepares to defend his U.S. Open title. Jack Nicklaus, who was an avid smoker in his early professional days, and still smoked recreationally for a number of years after, applauded the decision. "His nerves will be better. It will help him," the Golden Bear said.

    • Justin Rose has switched drivers in preparation for the U.S. Open, replacing his TaylorMade R7 with the R7 SuperQuad that he said immediately added a few yards to his driving distance average. "I'm getting some out there around 300 yards," he marveled.

    • Geoff Ogilvy has moved out to Del Mar, Calif., with his family for the next few months to escape the hot Arizona summer, and he has been practicing regularly at Torrey Pines the last week. The 2006 U.S. Open champion should be among the most prepared for the year's second major, which can only help given that his four appearances at the Buick Invitational at Torrey has yielded three missed cuts.

    • Of all the players to make it through 36-hole sectional qualifying, two to watch for came out of the Columbus, Ohio, qualifier -- Pat Perez and Davis Love III. Perez grew up playing at Torrey Pines and so did his caddie, Mike Hartford, who actually won the San Diego City Amateur played on the North and South Courses. Love said he's closer to returning to form than at any time this year after making the cut at the Memorial and then shooting a 5-under-par 66 on the tough Ohio State Scarlet Course in his second 18 holes at the sectional. Love won the Buick Invitational in 1996 and has finished in the top five on four occasions.
  9. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    TOUR Insider's Power Ranking

    TOUR Insider's Power Ranking

    Pos. Player Comment
    1. Sergio Garcia The PLAYERS champion is in good form and looking to solidify his return to the upper crust of pro golf. Hits it far enough to compete. But does he have the patience?
    2. Phil Mickelson The hometown favorite desperately wants to win the U.S. Open, but his record at Torrey Pines isn't the best since the Rees Jones renovation. Will an Open setup be a boon? Perhaps.
    3. Luke Donald A prototype U.S. Open player, Donald is among the minority who likes Torrey South, and it has shown with his fine play in the Buick Invitational.
    4. Geoff Ogilvy Was the 2006 Open a fluke? We think not. Ogilvy has all the goods to win more majors, and he's been hanging out in La Jolla of late.
    5. Tiger Woods All eyes will be on the Battle of Wounded Knee. Can Woods overcome his recent surgery and resulting rustiness to continue his domination of Torrey Pines, where he's won six times? If anyone can, it's the world's No. 1 player.
  10. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005


    By Tod Leonard

    Dave Pelz, the noted golf short-game guru, came to Torrey Pines a couple of years ago to work with Phil Mickelson, and when they couldn't get out on the course right away because of a frost delay, Pelz killed time by wandering into the Torrey Pines pro shop.

    He'd never been in there before, and he was fascinated by what he saw. Amid all of the merchandise were the framed pictures on the walls, sort of a Torrey family album.

    On one wall was Tiger Woods, a scrawny little guy with glasses holding a Junior World trophy almost as big as he was. On another, Phil Mickelson grinned with one of his prizes, a helmet of hair covering his ears.

    It was at that moment that Pelz was struck by just how long Torrey Pines has been a part of both men's lives.

    "I was thinking about how the upcoming U.S. Open had the potential to be an all-time classic," Pelz recalled recently. "I would love to see Tiger and Phil come down to the wire. I really think it's going to happen this year."

    Pelz didn't know at the time that the U.S. Golf Association would ensure an early showdown for the 108th U.S. Open on the South Course, grouping the world's top two players with Adam Scott for the first and second rounds Thursday and Friday.

    Whether that two-act play gets an extended run into the weekend, only Woods and Mickelson can determine with how they perform. Pop sports psychologists, however, can have a field day with this one, handicapping which player will be more charged up or rattled.

    Stepping to that first tee, it is clearly Mickelson who is carrying the heavier emotional baggage at Torrey Pines.

    While his stellar record and three wins in the Buick Invitational here can be lauded, he hasn't won on the South since it was redesigned in late 2001. He hasn't even seriously contended on a Sunday, though he has three top-six finishes.

    Woods couldn't have played much better on the new South, with five of his six wins coming since 2002, including the last four in a row.

    Mickelson also hasn't seized a U.S. Open in 17 chances, though he has come agonizingly close on numerous occasions.

    All of that suffering could be wiped away with a victory this week in the one place Mickelson would most want to win the national championship.

    No one has worked more diligently in preparing for this venture at Torrey Pines. With the course just a few minutes from his Rancho Santa Fe home, Mickelson has shown up at least a half dozen times at Torrey in the last few months, wearing shorts, walking and carrying his own clubs.

    "I think spending as much time as I have out there in the last year, and understanding the golf course, developing a game plan -- that should hopefully allow me to shoot around par," Mickelson said.

    When Torrey Pines South underwent its renovation to secure the U.S. Open, no player seemed happier than Mickelson. While Woods flatly discounted Torrey's chances to get a major, Mickelson was an enthusiastic advocate for it.

    He had good reason to be. At the time, the San Diego native was the defending champion of the Buick, having won the tournament for the third time the previous winter in a wild playoff with Davis Love III and Frank Lickliter. Woods had one only one Buick at that point.

    When the Rees Jones redo was finished, Mickelson showed up for the 2002 Buick media day and said of Torrey possibly getting the Open, "For me, it would give me a great shot at winning it."

    Then Mickelson went out that year on the new South, shot 75 in the second round and missed the cut.

    It has since been a somewhat strained relationship between Mickelson and the South. His best scores are a pair of 69s, and his scoring average is 71.6. That is better than most have fared on the toughened track, but not nearly good enough to best Woods.

    "He hasn't been able yet to play it from the fairway enough to let his talents come out," Pelz said. "If you're hacking out of the rough on too many holes out there, you're not going to do very well.

    Torrey Pines has exposed Mickelson's driving troubles more than most PGA Tour courses. In the last six years, he has never ranked better than 160th on tour in driving accuracy.

    And no tournament punishes woes with the driver more than the U.S. Open. If Mickelson had been able to hit more than two fairways in the final round at Winged Foot two years ago -- even just one more on the 72nd hole -- he could have been a runaway champion.

    "Phil doesn't have to be the best driver to win, but he can't be the worst," Pelz said. "And there have been times when he's not driving it straight that he's putting a big burden on himself. Those days are behind him, I hope."

    More heartening for Mickelson is that he seems to have corrected some of his flaws in the last year working with instructor Butch Harmon. He still ranks 157th on the tour this year with 58-percent driving accuracy, but Pelz contends the misses are less off line.

    In this Open, that difference could be huge, because the first cut of rough seems to be considerably more forgiving compared to the deep stuff.

    "I just hope the USGA gives them a chance to hit the green," Pelz said. "That's when the game gets exciting when they're playing from the rough. That's the real test; to hack it sideways out to the fairway isn't.

    "This isn't the U.S. Driving Open. This is the U.S. Open. If hitting the fairway is the only thing that matters, we might as well stop and give it to Fred Funk."
  11. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005

    Torrey Pines South has emerged as a jewel from the rough, evolving from ridiculed 'sandlot' to become an Open venue


    Back in the late 1980s, Torrey Pines couldn't have attracted the U.S. Open if San Diego had promised each of the U.S. Golf Association's executive members a mansion on the cliffs in La Jolla.

    Or not unless the USGA's criteria for the national championship changed from "tough track" to "dog track."

    Torrey was a mess. There was hardpan the consistency of concrete everywhere on the heavily played municipal course, and where there was green stuff, it was terribly infested by dreaded wire grass. The sprinkler system was essentially hoses and whirligigs. whirly-gigs. The grass was healthier in your own frontyard.

    It was fairly amazing that the South and North courses actually hosted PGA Tour events since 1969, although they were barely up to professional standards. There were quite a few tournament years when just about everything was marked off as ground under repair, including the fairway. The staffing was ridiculously small -- about seven people per course.

    If the piece of land had not been so stunning, perched there next to the beautiful Pacific, the tour would have fled. It almost did anyway.

    In 1990, then-PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman met with Tom Morgan, the Century Club's tournament director at the time, and didn't pull any punches with his baseball analogy.

    "In the era of domed stadiums," Beman said, "you're playing on a sandlot."

    Beman was seriously considering an eventual move to a proposed project northeast of Torrey called the TPC of Black Mountain. If that had happened, Torrey would have been abandoned as a pro site, and it would have needed a Bethpage Black-type miracle to fathom getting the U.S. Open.

    Instead, the TPC project was strangled by political red tape, and John Walter was hired as the new city golf manager. He worked through the city's bureaucracy to get manpower and get the course back in shape, and by 2001, the USGA's Public Links Championship had been played on the South Course and the game's two biggest stars -- Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson -- had combined to win four Buick Invitationals.

    Torrey Pines seemed ready for the next level, and when former Century Club President Jay Rains recruited "Open Doctor" Rees Jones to do a redesign of the South, the 108th U.S. Open that begins tomorrow was all but secured.

    The second municipal golf course to host the U.S. Open, and the first that is city-owned, Torrey Pines is being lavishly applauded now, not ridiculed.

    "I can tell you we're all really juiced about this one," USGA Executive Director David Fay said. "This should be a memorable Open. We're finally getting back to Southern California after 60 years, and we're taking it to a terrific municipal golf course and showcasing it to the world."

    Modest roots

    Torrey Pines does not have the blue-blood pedigree of some of the most storied Open courses, such as Oakmont or Winged Foot. When amateur Bobby Jones was playing his way through U.S. Opens to iconic status in the '20s back East, Torrey Pines Mesa was 1,162 acres of dusty, barren land with no trees.

    It became the perfect spot for the Army to set up the mini-city that was Camp Callan during World War II. Before those colorful hang gliders floated along, Air Corps planes towed targets past the cliffs so soldiers could practice with their 90-millimeter guns. The camp swelled to 40,000, or about as many people as hold tickets each day to this U.S. Open. The base's rifle range was located on what is now the South's second and fifth fairways.

    "If you had to be in the Army," one camp alum said, "it was the best spot to be."

    The Army base closed after the war, the land went back to the city, and for a while they held automobile races on the mesa, spurring a proposal that they build a track that would host "the Indy 500 of the West Coast."


    The city councilmen apparently liked golf better, and they allocated $506,981 to build one course at Torrey Pines. They eventually got two at the suggestion of Pasadena architect William Bell Sr., one of the most prolific course designers of his time.

    The money ran out, though, and the first superintendent, Don Makie, had to finish the construction with a city crew. To create some of the contours in the courses, they busted up the concrete slabs of Camp Callan and tossed dirt on them. Sand for the bunkers was trucked in from the Torrey Pines State Beach, and saplings nurtured in employees' back yards backyards were used for landscaping.

    The South Course opened first in June 1957, but it was far from a jewel.

    "It was more or less a cow pasture," Makie once told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "It was just a long, uninteresting slugger's golf course."

    Dawn of the Open

    Fast forward to the late summer of 2001. Torrey Pines had once again become a construction zone. Other than the trees, it was all churned dirt, thanks to the renovation taking place.

    The Torrey Pines South Course had served San Diego's golfing community for 44 years. Along with the North, it had hosted the PGA Tour since '69, and its champions had been many of the era's greats -- Tom Weiskopf, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller.

    It had overcome its dog days, too, when some strays such as Woody Blackburn, Greg Twiggs and Jay Don Blake sneaked under the fence and won. From 1993 to 2001, the Buick champions were Mickelson thrice, Woods, Craig Stadler, Peter Jacobsen, Davis Love III, Mark O'Meara and Scott Simpson.

    "I remember in '94, Tom Kite came up to me and said, 'Mr. Walter, I can't tell you how much the course has changed,'" said Walter, who would serve at the course until 2000. "The caliber of the fields improved dramatically."

    At the '98 U.S. Men's Public Links, won by current Masters champion Trevor Immelman, Walter said he heard quiet rumblings about Torrey possibly hosting a future U.S. Open, but it didn't seem realistic at the time.

    Then by 2000, Rains had met with Jones, who already had remodeled six U.S. Open courses. Jones' response: "This is one of the greatest canvases an artist could have."

    When Jones was finished, Torrey South was far more dramatic, and incredibly more difficult. In anticipation of a major and the continuing distance revolution with equipment, Jones stretched the back tees to 7,643 yards for what will now be the longest U.S. Open in history by some 370 yards.

    Jones produced some spectacular greens on the edge of the canyons at Nos. 3, 4 and 14, and he toughened the course with deep greenside bunkers and some subtle shelving on the greens.

    "I'm proud of the fact we did a lot with the green contours and the transitions to the greens," Jones said. "We've got a lot of open entrances for the public player on a U.S. Open-caliber course. Basically, there are small targets within moderate-sized greens, and that's what makes it a championship golf course."

    The South has been a beast to the pros, who have averaged about two strokes higher per round on the new South compared to the old. For the average golfer, the difference is probably between five and 10 strokes.

    "I enjoyed playing the old South course; I don't enjoy playing it now," said Walter, the former course manager. "It accomplished its goal of bringing national recognition and the U.S. Open, but it's a tough course for the average golfer. You're hitting driver, 3-wood to a majority of the par-4 holes. That gets old after a while."

    The fact that Woods, the world's No. 1 player, has won five of the seven events played on the new South has only lent credence to its reputation as a major venue.

    "I think it's a great course," Sergio Garcia said back in 2004. "I can't wait to see it for the U.S. Open."

    But it is far from universally loved.

    At the '04 Buick, Southern Californian Tom Pernice ripped it to shreds. "They ruined the golf course," the PGA Tour veteran said. "It was an old, traditional seaside course. Now it looks like it was built in 2003, and it's a piece-of-junk Rees Jones design. I'm not a Rees Jones fan. I'm sorry."

    Other players expressed their distaste, and Tom Lehman said, "Give me one wish and I'd blow up the fourth green."

    Despite its Open status, the South has not been favored by many of those who are passionate about golf architecture. It joined Atlanta Athletic Club as the only Open venues of the past 32 years not to make Golf Digest's 2007-08 "America's 100 Greatest Courses" list. Torrey South regularly finishes behind another San Diego course, Barona Creek Golf Club, in Golfweek's national rankings.

    "It's just not an interesting golf course," said Golfweek architecture writer Bradley S. Klein. "Nothing interesting happens at Torrey Pines when the ball hits the ground.

    "It's basically straight. It doesn't matter what side of the fairway you hit; the greens are contoured in a way that you can't work the ball into the corners. It rewards a one-dimensional aerial game.

    "It's not worthy of holding the U.S. Open. The only reason it's being held there is that it has the infastructure and the USGA wanted to go to a public course."

    Of course, it helps that the roomy facility and use of the North Course and Lodge at Torrey Pines has meant a booming hospitality and ticket business.

    But beyond that, "I think it will be all the test we want it to be," said Mike Davis, the USGA's director of rules and competitions.

    Fay agrees, and a return of the U.S. Open to Torrey Pines sometime after 2015 seems highly likely for this once grubby parkland. As long as the golf is great and the fog stays away.

    "My hope," Fay said, "is that sometime later in the week, Thursday or Friday, people are starting to say, 'I wonder when we can have another one of these.'"
  12. Kwak

    Kwak ....

    May 25, 2006
    Peeps want a vBookie on this? :icon_shrug:
  13. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005

    I'll throw some vCash on it!!
  14. Kwak

    Kwak ....

    May 25, 2006

    Done :tup:

    Thursday 7AM PST is first tee time.
  15. rexy2006

    rexy2006 Well-Known Member

    Dec 17, 2005
    US Open - Torrey Pines My Story

    I posted this at Cowboys Pride per request, so I thought I would post it here, too:
    I don’t know what folks want to know about the US Open. But, here’s my story anywho.
    I attended Saturday. We got into Qualcomm about 11. Took a long *** (seemed like forever) roundabout charter bus ride to a dirt parking lot in Torrey Pines. There were piles of people going in.
    We entered at the Main Entrance, which was along a raised covered wood walkway. After entering, there was a large circular area, surrounded by tents. The Main Entrance is by Hole 1.
    We went directly to the Disabled Assistance tent to see if we could get a ride to the other side. Sis had recent surgery, is using a cane and needed assistance. We wanted to go to the American Express Experience and the Merchandise Tent right off the bat, which was way on the other end.
    A dude took us on a 5-person cart journey, reminiscent of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. We almost lost a few people and ran over some poor sap's foot, whilst honking merrily along.
    Somehow we made it to the other side. Sis got in line to get one of the little LIVE monitor interactive things. It was very cool. It tapped into the NBC feed of the rest of the Open. I got into the beer line.
    We got the LIVE thing and went into the ginormous merchandise tent which was packed to the gills with golf fans. We were in there about a half hour. I was looking at some clothes near the front door. Sis was sitting on a bench right by the door.
    Phil Nevin comes whooshing in with a blonde lady. They didn’t see us, and kept going, disappearing into the ladies clothes.
    We bought stuff, went out, looked for a cart to take us back. Waited forever, then decided to go park on the 15th hole grandstands.
    So, we saw about the last half of the pairings come through. Most of them got pwned, as the 15th is one tough hole. There was just a few birdies, lots of bogies. There were several sand traps, and a number came up short.
    Teh 15th hole is cool, because it has a leaderboard, and also has another board which shows the pairing that is coming to the hole. We also had a pairing sheet to look at.
    We used the LIVE interactive thing a lot, checking to see what the other leaders, mostly Tiger, was doing. Other fans watched the little TV screen, too. The LIVE feed was only delayed by a moment.
    When Tiger had teed off, and was walking down the fairway behind us, hoards of people were following him. Hoards. We also knew he was coming, because concession workers got on top of campers with their cameras, and took pics as he walked by.
    Teh only and I mean only, time the "ushers" or whatever they call them, let people NOT cross the fairway, was when Tiger was at our hole. The other times pairings came through, they would stop the flow of fans, midflow, after the players had gone by, just before whoever was putting, putted.
    I don’t know what the Latin guy with pink pants is named, but those pants were ghey. Although, he did have an amount of flamboyancy around him.
    When Tiger finally got to our hole, a huge flock of cameramen appeared to the right of the green. Plus, the stands were totally PACKED, butt-to-butt.
    When Tiger left, lots of people got up and left. We waited for Rocco to come through. He seemed like such an easy-going character, people warmed up to him quickly. First thing I noticed were the pins on his hat. I’ve never seen a pro do that.
    Lots of people yelled, “Rocco!” before and after he putted.
    Then, we got out of the grandstands and headed towards the entrance. The ground was uneven dirt, roots and grass, so Sis had a hard time maneuvering. That is the only complaint I have, is that there wasn’t enough disabled assistance to be found.
    We got to the Main Entrance satellite merchandise tent, because we had forgotten to buy programs. We were wandering around the tent and stopped, with other fans and workers, to watch Tiger’s final putt on the 18th hole. When he sank it, the place erupted, with cheers, fist pumps and high fives all around. People just love Tiger.
    One observation we made, the crowd was about 90% guys. The girls walked alone or in twos. The guys walked alone, in twos and in GROUPS. These groups usually consisted of 5-6 guys, toting a beer in each hand. A 12-oz. cup of Mich or Mich Ultra was $6. A plastic souvenir cup of Heiny was $7. The beer was flowing and peeps were drinking it up.
    We waited in line, piled into another charter bus, and went back to Qualcomm.

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