Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Do you like fast greens, deep rough, and high scores? If so, you'll be happy to know that it's that time again: the 2007 US Open is here!

I'm honestly not as fired up for this one as I was last year (since I was at Winged Foot), but once the balls start flying I'll be into it. Here are the vital stats for the 107th US Open, which is becoming toughest (or most unfair, depending on who you ask) major:

COURSE: Oakmont Country Club
LOCATION: Oakmont, PA (weather)
PAR: 35-35-70
YARDAGE: 7,355
DESIGNER: Henry C. Fownes (his only course)
FAIRWAYS/TEES: poa/bentgrass
GREENS: poanna (perennial)
ROUGH: graduated to 1.5" inches the first cut, 3" from 8-10 yards off the fairway, and 5 to 5.5" at the deepest, with fescue along each fairway

Opened in 1903, Oakmont is located 20 minutes outside of Pittsburgh in western PA, depending on how fast you drive. This was also the site for the 1994 US Open, won by fresh faced youngster Ernie Els (age 24) in a 20 hole playoff. This time around, par is 70 even though the course is normally a par 71 (the 9th, a 477 yard par 5, is now a par 4), because "the USGA likes messing with your mind", as Johnny Miller (who shot a 63 in 1973 at Oakmont) put it. Somehow, they also added 100 yards to the 2nd hole (340 to 440, or is that a typo?). While a lot of trees have been removed, there are now a total of 210 bunkers, one of them between #3 and #4 is the dreaded "Church Pew" bunker. Overall, the course prides itself on beating up all those who come to play, which is typical of fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The toughest hole is the 1st (482 yard, par 4), but the 12th (667 yard, par 5, with a front to back sloping green) is no slouch either. I also don't know how these guys will get a ball to stick to the green on the 8th (288 yard, par 3), but that's why they're the pros. (As I was typing this, I found out Trevor Immelman aced this hole in a Tuesday practice round using a 3 wood.)

As for the contenders, Tiger is already whining about the conditions being incredibly tough. This may just be a ploy to scare off the rest of the field, because if it's tough for him, what about everyone else?

Phil "FIGJAM" Mickelson may have trained TOO hard for this one: he hurt his wrist practicing chipping out of the rough at Oakmont a month ago, and must wear a brace on his left hand. He's never really been injured during the season, so we'll see if he's able to play through it. If nothing else, he can use it as an excuse.

As for the defending champ, as solid and stoic as he is I don't see Geoff Ogilvy repeating. I also don't see Masters winner Zach Johnson being a factor. Is this Monty's chance to win a major? It's very possible. I see the winner coming from this group: Woods, Appleby, Toms, Goosen, Donald, Immelman, O'Hair.

6/14 (Hole #1), 6/15 (Hole #10)
7:55 a.m.-1:25 p.m. -- Jose Maria Olazabal, Spain; Sergio Garcia, Spain; Pablo Martin, Spain
Leave it to the Democrats to let the Spaniards back in the pantry.

8:06 a.m.-1:36 p.m. -- Tiger Woods, Windermere, Fla.; A-Richie Ramsay, Scotland; Geoff Ogilvy, Australia
Since Tiger missed the cut at Winged Foot in '06, he was probably on his yacht watching Geoff win it (or should I say, Monty/Phil/Furyk blow it), so they should have plenty to talk about. Never mind, they won't talk at all.

1:14 p.m.-7:44 a.m. -- Vijay Singh, Fiji; Davis Love III, Sea Island, Ga.; Henrik Stenson, Sweden
The most formidable trio, with Stenson having the best shot.

6/14 (#10), 6/15 (#1)
7:11 a.m.-12:41 p.m. -- Boo Weekley, Milton, Fla.; Nobuhiro Masuda, Japan; Bubba Watson, Bagdad, Fla.
It's Bubba, Boo And Nobu! I don't know why that cracks me up, but it does.
7:44 a.m.-1:14 p.m. -- Ernie Els, South Africa; Zach Johnson, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Padraig Harrington, Ireland
The most likeable trio; too bad I don't see any of them winning it.

1:36 p.m.-8:06 a.m. -- Phil Mickelson, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.; Adam Scott, Australia; Jim Furyk, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Actually, this is a tough trio as well, if Phillis' left wrist is serviceable.

Kaname Yokoo of Japan. Jason Dufner from Alabama gets an honorable mention.

Let's give it up for assistant pro Frank Bensel from Purchase, N.Y. Woo hoo!

Thursday 6/14: ESPN 10 AM–3 PM, NBC 3–5 PM, ESPN 5–7 PM
Friday 6/15: ESPN 10 AM–3 PM, NBC 3–5 PM, ESPN 5–7 PM
Saturday 6/16, Sunday 6/17: NBC 1 - 7 PM

(Man, I don't know which I hate more: ESPN or NBC Sports. It remains to be seen if the entire thing will be in HD.)

SENTIMENTAL PICK: Tiger Woods, on Father's Day right before he's about to become a daddy. Awwww. /collective sigh

MY PICK: Luke Donald. (I know, I chose a stinkin' Euro, which would be the first since Tony Jacklin won in 1970.)

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