Justin Rose can expect a phone call of congratulations from Curtis Strange if successfully defends his U.S. Open title this week.
It’s just not a phone call Strange wants to make.
This is the 25-year anniversary of Strange winning at Oak Hill to become only the sixth player to win back-to-back in the U.S. Open.
No one has done it since then.
“Do I want to see somebody do it? Not particularly,” Strange said Monday. “But I’m not rooting against somebody.”
Strange is at Pinehurst this week as an analyst for ESPN.
Bathroom out, tee in
As if Pinehurst No. 2 wasn’t difficult enough already, there is a new tee on the par-3 sixth hole that plays about 240 yards. USGA executive director Mike Davis said it probably would be used twice this week.
Oddly enough, the new tee was not part of the plans except for the removal of a bathroom.
Bob Dedman, chairman of the company that owns Pinehurst, never liked the brick bathroom behind the sixth tee and he had it removed. Davis was at the golf course doing advance work when the absence of the bathroom gave him a different view. And he liked it.
“If you look back at ’99 and ’05,” he said of the two previous U.S. Opens at Pinehurst, “they were using the same clubs all four rounds. So two days we’re going to play it back, and then one day we’ll go 50 yards forward and use a front hole location. For one par 3, they’ll have to hit a long iron to a hybrid.
Field of 156 set
The U.S. Open field was set at 156 players with the release of the Official World Golf Ranking. The USGA had set aside five spots for players who moved into the top 60 in the world.
Kevin Na, who lost in a playoff at the Memorial, was at No. 40. Bernd Wiesberger of Austria, who lost in a playoff last week on the European Tour, moved to No. 60.
That allowed three alternates into the U.S. Open – Cameron Wilson, the NCAA champion from Stanford; Craig Barlow; and amateur Brandon McIver.
Greens are pure
Davis said the greens at Pinehurst No. 2 are as pure as he has ever seen them.
Enjoy them while they last – they’ll be dead in a month.
Pinehurst No. 2 several years ago installed a hybrid bent grass called Penn A1-A4. Davis said the resort will switch to a Bermuda grass after the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens.
“With a shorter season, it’s a much better surface to play, and actually is less expensive to maintain,” Davis said.