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May 21, 2018

Katie Bynum

Mike Davis

Jeff Hall

Brett Pickett

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

CRAIG ANNIS: Good morning. I would like to welcome you all to the championship preview for the 118th U.S. Open here at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. By now you've passed under the temporary Long Island Railroad bridge that will help bring thousands of fans to this year's championship. And you've seen tents, bleachers and TV towers that have been built up around the area. You've also seen the grandeur of the course as you've walked here to the media facility, which will be completely outfitted and ready as your home away from home in June.

The pieces are coming together as the USGA is fully prepared to host a historic U.S. Open at one of golf's grandest venues. We hope you're feeling the enthusiasm that is here and continues to build as we inch closer to golf's ultimate test for the players and greatest celebration in golf for the fans.

Today's program and media opportunities will allow you to gather great content to share with your audiences and USGA Communications is prepared to assist you in the run up and at the championship proper.

In fact, the 156 player field has come closer to reality as local qualifying at more than 110 sites was completed on May 17th. You'll receive more information on U.S. Open sectional qualifying later in the program.

I would like to recognize USGA President Mark Newell who is with us today, joined by several members of the Executive Committee. Welcome.

I would also like to recognize Michael Irving, Mayor of Village of Southampton and county executive Steve Bloom who are joining us today. Now please allow me to recognize our host from Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, President Brett Pickett and General Chairman Jack Curtin. We thank you for your partnership and teamwork as we prepare for another historic championship on your world class golf course. Our gratitude for this relationship which dates to 1894 is immeasurable.

To speak on behalf of the Shinnecock is Shinnecock President Brett Pickett.


BRETT PICKETT: On behalf of the governors and the members of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club I would like to extend my heartfelt welcome to everybody joining us today and in the weeks ahead. And welcome especially those who are here for the first time. Few things are as special to our members as being able to show Shinnecock to people, share this place, with people seeing it for the first time.

We're gathered at a club that was conceived 127 years ago when golf was just a cultural curiosity in America by some enthusiastic summer colonists who learned their games in the travels in Europe and thought these grounds were particularly well suited to it. In 1891 they formed this club, the first incorporated golf club in the United States of America and commissioned the famed architect Stanford White to build the clubhouse sitting up on the hill, which was the first golf clubhouse in America. Three years later Shinnecock would become a founding club of the USGA and would host the second U.S. Open Championship in 1896. And here we are today in our third century on the eve of hosting our national championship yet again. Our club is deeply proud and respectful of our role in the founding of American golf and the common heritage that we share with the United States Golf Association. 122 years after our relationship began, we have never ever been closer and they are the one and only partner we would ever entrust to present Shinnecock to the world.

We think Mike Davis and his team are about to stage a championship that will be one for the ages. I would like to quickly thank four people who have been essential to our preparation for this spectacular event. Jack Curtin, General Chairman of the U.S. Open, long-term governor of Shinnecock. And then what we call in the club our big three, which are Jonathan Jennings, our superintendent, Jack Druga, our head professional, and Nick Conlin, our club general manager. If there is a more talented and devoted golf club staff in the world, I would like to know what it is.

Finally, I would like to thank our members and our employees for the tremendous commitment that each of them has made in big ways and small to the conduct of the championship.

I look forward to welcoming you all back in a few weeks. Thank you.


(Video played.)

CRAIG ANNIS: Now I would like to introduce our roster of USGA speakers for today. Jeff Hall, Managing Director of Rules and Open Championships. Katie Bynum, head of partnerships and championship experiences. Navin Singh, head of global content and media distribution. And our next speaker, CEO, Mike Davis. Mike.

MIKE DAVIS: Thank you. Welcome, everybody, to magnificent Shinnecock Hills. It's indeed one of the most important places in all of golf in the United States. Its influence on golf and its history in the United States is certainly almost unparalleled.

First of all, Brett, to you, thank you. We feel the same way about the partnership and we truly are at a national treasure here at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, ladies and gentlemen. Brett mentioned this is the fourth of the modern Opens being played, started in 1986 when Raymond Floyd won. We loved the place so much we're coming back here for another U.S. Open which we have already announced in 2026. But you know, Shinnecock is more about modern golf. It, as I said, its place in history is almost unrivaled here in the United States.

As Brett said, it is one of the five founding clubs of the United States Golf Association. One of its prominent members was Charles Blair Macdonald, the first U.S. Amateur champion and as I say a member here, that helped design, I won't say the original course, but the expanded course in the 1910s because of the move of the railroad.

And Charles Blair Macdonald or C B Macdonald as many of you know, designed that architectural masterpiece next door at The National. But beyond that I think his influence is one of the reasons that he is known as the father of golf in the United States.

This golf course hosted the second U.S. Open in 1896. It hosted the second U.S. Amateur in 1896. It hosted the 7th United States women's Amateur in 1900, so 118 years ago. And beyond that, as Brett mentioned, the oldest golf clubhouse. And it's been welcoming, it's been accessible really from day one. Women have been a part of it.

One of the stories I think some of you should consider looking into and reading, if you haven't read about it before, is at the 1896 U.S. Open there were two locals who played in the event. One an African American by the name of John Shippen and then a Shinnecock Indian by the name of Oscar Bunn. There was some players in that U.S. Open that didn't think that that was appropriate and I think one of the things that the USGA is so proud of and I know Shinnecock as a club is proud of is we stood up almost 125 years ago and did the right thing and made sure we were welcoming. So there's just been so much history made here and at Shinnecock.

The golf course itself is tremendously significant from an architectural standpoint and I dare say, I wouldn't say be disparaging about any other golf course in the world in terms of which is the best, but I dare say that in terms of where elite golf is played, I can't think of a better golf course in the world than Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. The architecture is just marvelous, it's timeless, the architect that came in when the golf course needed to be expanded in the late 1920s was William Flynn.

William Flynn, he really is, at least in my book, a handful of the best architects that have ever lived. Beyond Shinnecock, courses like the Country Club up in Brookline Massachusetts, actually going to host our 2023 U.S. Open. Cherry Hills out in Denver, that hosted that great 1960 Open that Arnold Palmer won. Philadelphia Country Club that hosted the 1939 U.S. Open that Byron Nelson and Sam Snead battled in. The great golf course in the Cascades Golf Course at The Homestead. There's just so many and when you get out here what's so great about Shinnecock Hills and I think the thing, rather than talking about golf course setup today, let's talk a little bit about the great job, and I do mean great job, that this club has done with restoration. And so it really started the better part of 20 years ago, when the club began after the 1995 U.S. Open to really try to take it back to what Flynn had designed when it opened in 1931.

So they started removing a lot of trees and brush. In fact when you're playing, for those of you who are going to play the 14th hole today, I was reminiscing, I remember in 1995 the U.S. Open focus, we couldn't even move spectators down the left and right sides of those holes. Now you look at it, it's these beautiful dunes and features that show off the beauty of this land. But you couldn't move spectators on that hole, there was so much brush and trees. So that's one thing.

So aesthetically it's different and that's made wind a bigger part of it.

Another thing that's different from the last three opens is we added some distance. There's 10 new teeing grounds for this U.S. Open. So the new -- if you look at the scorecard it will be 7,445 yards. Folks, we didn't add distance just to add distance, what we really did, and we did it in concert with the club itself and also with some work with Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, that architectural firm, is we really wanted to bring the shot value back to what Flynn had designed in the late 1920s. So we looked at each drive zone and said, what would it take to get the drive zone back into play. So I think we are excited because now all of a sudden some of the cross bunkers that are in play, some of the lateral bunkers that are in play or some of the shots, I mean take the second hole, it was always meant to be a long downwind par-3 that you can bounce the ball in. We now have that again.

So I think we're excited about this added distance and one thing that's kind of interesting being here, the actual shortest played U.S. Open in history was here in 1896. And we're going to, as I mentioned, we're going to be over 7,400 yards, the last three U.S. Opens were a little over 6,9000 yards, but that U.S. Open back in 1896 was 4,423 yards. 4423. That was when we were playing with gutta percha's and hickories, but oh, how times have changed.

Another difference is the fairway contours. I know some of you, you've been reading about some narrowing that we did, but let me -- last September -- let me try to put things in perspective. So if you went back and you looked at aerials from 1996, excuse me, 1986, 1995 and 2004, you would have seen a very narrow golf course, almost hallway like. Those fairways back for those three Opens and the drive zones, the nonpar-3s averaged about 26 yards in width. About five years ago the club embarked on really this restoration program to widen the golf course out much more like it Flynn designed.

So you had some of these 26 yard fairways going out to 65 yards. Brought bunkers more into play, brought angles more into play.

So fast forward to last summer and really Jeff Hall, who partners with me on the golf course setup and I decided that there were some places simply put that we needed to have it narrower. We needed to make sure that we were true to the William Flynn design, we didn't want to take bunkers out of play, but at the same time, as you'll hear Jeff talk about, the U.S. Open really is, we consider, golf's ultimate test, and accuracy needed to play a bigger role in that.

So fast forward to what you'll see today is those what used to be 26 yard wide fairways for a U.S. Open are averaging about 41 yards. So this is a wider U.S. Open, but we think it's appropriate. It really allows the players, the best players in the world, to use angles and brings bunkers into play and I think when you look at it aesthetically it by and large makes good sense.

Another change that's taken place from last time we had the U.S. Open here 14 years ago was that you will see much larger closely mown areas around these greens. Many of these holes had rough right up against the greens, which is not how it was designed when Flynn built the course. So the club really did a marvelous job taking these out.

So right off the bat when you play the first hole, when you used to go over that green it falls down a hill, used to go over the green. If you went over the green, you went into rough. Now all of a sudden you go down a hill -- and what these closely mown areas, I mean think about Pinehurst No. 2 -- what they do is they give options to the players, but they do not necessarily make it easier. So a player might be able to putt it, hit a bump and run, hit a pitch shot. But it puts options in the players, but it also gets a ball farther away from the green when you miss it.

And I think that brings me to the next part is another change that we saw and I would argue probably the most impactful change, although no one's going to want to talk about it because everyone's talking about added distance or narrower fairways. I really think the biggest difference for the U.S. Open is going to be how the club did a masterful job of taking the greens back to their original size from the 1930s.

If you look at some of those -- in fact we have got it up on the screen, there's a picture of the 6th green. What that does is it, the golf course instead of just small ovals that just happened over the years because of agronomics with mowing with tri-plexes and so on, this allows Shinnecock to be much more strategic, we get better hole locations and frankly it just, it makes for a better golf experience.

So I think it's on and around the greens that maybe -- and it's subtle, but it's really going to be the biggest difference I think for this U.S. Open.

One of the questions I think we're going to get, so I'm just going to hit it straight on would be what happened that final round in 2004 of the U.S. Open, when I think everybody that either was here or watched it realized that we had a situation where on some holes and particularly the 7th hole itself, you were watching well executed shots not being rewarded.

In fact, in the case of 7, you saw some well executed shots actually being penalized and I can assure you that is not what the USGA wanted.

And so I would just say that it was 14 years ago, it was a different time, it was different people, and we as an organization, we learned from it. When you set up a U.S. Open it is golf's ultimate test, it's probably set up closer to the edge than any other event in golf and I think that the difference then versus now is there was a lot more, we have a lot more technology, a lot more data in our hands.

And frankly, ladies and gentlemen, what really happened then was just a lack of water. There just wasn't enough water put in and the plant, essentially the grass itself kind of went dormant, there wasn't enough friction on the greens.

And now days we have got everything from firmness meters, we have got moisture meters in the greens, we have got -- obviously we can tell how fast a green is running. The meteorology is better, so we not only know where the wind are coming from but the velocities. And, frankly, there's better communication between the USGA and the grounds staff.

So I think we're comfortable and in looking back at that 2004, even though there were parts of that final day, it was a magnificent day with Retief and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end. There are parts that I think we learned from and so I think we're happy that we have a mulligan this time. It was certainly a bogey last time. In fact maybe even a double bogey and equitable stroke control perhaps kicked in. But anyway it's great to be back to one of the greatest courses on the planet earth and I think that if you can't tell we are incredibly excited to be back and it is, as I say, a national golf treasure.

So let me turn it over to Jeff Hall, as I said, well, after this -- we're good? Okay. So as I mentioned Jeff Hall is going to talk a little bit about U.S. Open and the ultimate test and a little bit about the openness of this championship. So thanks, ladies and gentlemen, for being here today.


JEFF HALL: Good morning, everyone. We are certainly excited to be back here to Shinnecock and as Mike said, I would like to set up a little bit about the U.S. Open and what it's all about.

I think the operative word is open. It's the openness of our championship that really distinguishes it from many, many others around the world.

The openness of our championship provides inspiration to golfers from around the world, and for many playing in the United States Open it starts with a dream. I mean, I'm guilty. Who else out here at some point in their career as the light was fading on the practice putting green at a golf course you grew up at had that 5-footer, mom's honking the horn in the car, come on, this is for the United States Open. Well that is -- we allow that in our championship. The openness of this championship provides that opportunity for people to dream. We have an image here of Xander Schauffele on the screen. Xander came to the United States Open last year as the 378th ranked player in the world. Finished the year, after a fifth place finish at Erin Hills, in the top-25 in the world and was the PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year.

Dreams happen. They start at the U.S. Open. But I think it's really important to note the openness of our competition, it doesn't compromise the quality of golf at our competition. We have got the best players in the world at our championship. 80 percent of the exempt players in our field, and we strive for a 50/50 representation between exempt players and places available through qualifying of the 80 percent of those exempt players come from the top 60 in the World Golf Ranking rankings.

So we have done a good job with our exemptions through the years of not just having a number of exempt players but having the right exempt players in our championship.

The strength of the United States Open field really lies in that balance between the openness of qualifying and the structure of our exemptions.

We believe the United States Open has got one of the most diverse fields in all of golf of the it's not just the elite players in the world. And you can see by some of the numbers on the screen, 23 different countries were represented at the United States Open in 2017. 11 of our past champions, 14 amateurs, 50 players played in the 2017 U.S. Open and it was their first United States Open experience. Where else does that happen in golf at the elite level?

It started with the 9,000 plus players that had a dream and it end with the 156 players that ultimately get here to Shinnecock Hills this year.

In 2012, well let me -- 2017, Brooks Koepka won our championship. He played in his first U.S. Open in 2012 as an amateur, having just finished school at Florida State University. Bottom line is this:

If you've got the game, if you've got the ability, then the U.S. Open empowers you to pursue your dream.

Qualifying across our country and internationally couldn't happen without tremendous support from our partners across amateur golf and the amateur golf associations. Specifically today I would call out Brian Mahoney, the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Golf Association and his talented staff and volunteers. They host a number of our local qualifyings and will be hosting sectional qualifying at Canoebrook on June 4th.

Calling out the MGA specifically because of where we are today, but the AGA's across the country, we just couldn't do what we do without the tireless efforts of that group across our country and we're very, very appreciative of that.

The ultimate test of golf. Well, we believe we offer it. Shinnecock Hills is going to be a wonderful canvas to present that ultimate test. It's about testing the players' shot making, their golf course management skills, and their mental and physical resolve. Make no mistake about it, the U.S. Open is a grind. There's an emotional roller coaster there.

Well, perhaps enough of me, let's see what some of the best players in the world have to say about our Open Championships.

(Video played.)

Perhaps you can argue that the shot making, the course management, the mental physical resolve of that we describe as our ultimate test is prevalent whenever successful golf is played. And you can make that argument. But there's no doubt about it, when you combine our tried and true setup philosophy, the venue that is we bring our championships to, that this test of golf, this ultimate test, just gets ramped up to a different level at the United States Open. And we're very, very excited to be back to Shinnecock and have that opportunity to present that ultimate test next month.

At this point I would like to introduce Katie Bynum, head of partnerships and championships experience to talk about what the fans can expect while here on-site at Shinnecock Hills.


KATIE BYNUM: We consider the U.S. Open to be the greatest celebration of golf and this year will be no exception.

We have a number of exciting opportunities for fans throughout the championship. Please join me as I walk through the fan journey over the next few minutes.

There are three ways for fans to get to Shinnecock. The first is Long Island Railroad. We have been working with Long Island Railroad to accommodate fans coming from the east and west on the Montauk branch line. We also be adding trains to accommodate the large crowds. You can find schedules on mta.info/lirr, as well as usopen.com and the app in lead-up to the championship.

The second option is to take the Hampton Jitney from New York City. For $29 a ride the Hampton Jitney will be offering five buses to drop off at Southampton College across the street. Both the train and bus will drop off at gate 2.

The third option is to drive and park at Gabreski Airport in the general parking lot. Shuttles will run from 4 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily and drop off at gate 1. Both gate 1 and gate 2 will take fans through Fan Central, which I'll talk about in a minute.

This year we introduced a new ticket option called Top Of The Hill, which is an open air beer garden environment overlooking the golf course and the sound by the 12th and 13th holes.

We also collaborated with Prime Sport to create travel packages that include transportation, accommodations and tickets for fans to make it more convenient.

In addition to these new offerings we also have a variety of ticket options, including our 1895 and Trophy Club which are air conditioned tents that include food and beverage.

Daily tickets are still available on usopen.com. Juniors under the age of 18 can get in free with a ticketed adult and students 19 through 24 can buy Trophy Club tickets for gallery prices with their student I D.

Gates 1 and 2 funnel fans through Fan Central, which is the hub of all activity.

In the bottom right corner you'll see a dotted red line that circles Fan Central. Fans coming through gate 1 will walk right through Fan Central and fans coming through gate 2 from Long Island Railroad and the Hampton Jitney will see Fan Central on your right.

When you get to Fan Central you'll find a number of different socially shareable photo opportunities like the large Adirondack chair and larger than life 118th U.S. Open letters. You can also watch players and industry experts at the U.S. Open Live desk, send a virtual Father's Day card and putt on a Shinnecock green.

We have also collaborated with our partners American Express, Deloitte and Lexus. American Express will be hosting fan services in Fan Central but also in two locations on the golf course. Stop by to get information, ask questions, pick up a fan favorite radio, or charge your phone.

Deloitte and their team at Deloitte Digital has created a virtual reality experience for fans which gives you a sneak peak into the Shinnecock clubhouse and the Trophy Club Room, as well as the opportunity to relive Corey Pavin's famous 4-wood shot on the 72nd hole of the 1995 U.S. Open.

As most of you know, the trophy tour has been making a tour of the New York metro area for the last couple months. Its home will be the Lexus Performance Experience the week of the U.S. Open, where fans will get the once in a lifetime opportunity to take a photo with the trophy.

And last but not least in Fan Central is the U.S. Open Merchandise Pavilion which is a spectacular shopping experience. It's 37,000 square feet, has over 400,000, some of which have been sourced from the local area. They will be hosting a pre-championship opening Thursday, June 7th, through Sunday where no ticket is needed to shop.

I encourage you to stop by, there's something in there for everybody.

In addition to our Fan Central activities we have a full week of programming for all fans. Monday is opening day, Tuesday is #lovegolf day, Wednesday is Junior Day and of course Sunday is Father's Day. We'll have a pen for folks attending their first U.S. Open on Thursday for Flag Day and on Father's Day.

We appreciate your support of the championship and hope will take a few minutes during the week to enjoy being a fan.

NAVIN SINGH: So the days of just watching the U.S. Open on the couch are long gone. People are consuming their content from multiple devices and commanding the attention and interaction plays a major role in the work we're doing to provide a more holistic championship experience. We want to entertain and enable fans at the venue, while bringing our fans at home and on the go in nearly 200 countries around the world as close to the action as possible.

We're excited to enter our fourth year of partnership with Fox as they continue to innovate their coverage. Through their creative storytelling, they bring the championship to life for millions of viewers both in the United States and abroad through our world feed.

Their use of innovative technology is an essential part of our television broadcast. Fox Sports remains the leader and often the trend setter that broadcasters emulate.

This year we'll feature our Flight Track technology on 12 tee boxes and Top Tracer technology on the other six.

Flight Track will be used to enhance the broadcast by pairing the traditional behind-the-player camera shot with a virtual hole map presenting a realtime aerial view of the player's ball flight.

Fox will also use top Top Tracer technology on their hand-held cameras for the third year in a row, giving viewers visual insights into shots from the fairway, rough, bunker and fescue.

Also new for this year they will be introducing Green Reader technology to display the undulations and contours of the green using various innovations and display tactics.

Use of Flight Tracer, Top Tracer and Green Reader allow the viewer greater insight into the type of shots that must be executed to conquer golf's ultimate test, whether that be moving the ball from left-to-right, controlling trajectory or executing a lag putt.

We're pleased to have the majority of our team back again this year featuring Joe Buck, Paul Azinger and Brad Faxon. New to the team is Michael Breed, who will be featured on our digital broadcasts and also integrated to the linear broadcast from time to time to provide insight and expert analysis.

Coverage for the U.S. Open on Fox starts with the sectional qualifying shown on FS1 which will air 10 p.m. eastern on Monday June 4th.

On June 7th Paul Azinger will be on The Herd to announce tee times with Colin Cowherd. That show starts at noon eastern on FS1.

As we enter the U.S. Open week, Fox will broadcast their preview show Wednesday at the U.S. Open on June 13th from 9:30 a.m. until noon.

And during championship play, Fox and FS1 will provide 37 hours of live golf coverage.

This will be complemented by over 95 hours of coverage on Live From The U.S. Open via Golf Channel.

We're also excited to embark on a new partnership with Fox regarding documentaries. Our first U.S. Open feature, Tiger and Rocco features the epic Monday playoff between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate to determine a 2008 U.S. Open champion, where Tiger Woods won on a broken leg and also with a torn ACL. The film will premiere on Fox Monday from 1 to 2 p.m. eastern on June 3rd and on FS1 Monday June 4th 9 to 10 p.m.

Let's move on to digital. The USGA digital platforms continue to offer exclusive U.S. Open content. U.S. Open Facebook Live studio show anchored by Scott Walker will provide wall-to-wall coverage of 11 sectional qualifying sites on Monday June 4th, complimenting Fox's aforementioned sectional qualifying show.

We're going to have video correspondents at five U.S. sectional qualifying sites doing live look-ins, we're going to have social media integration with audience questions and comments integrated into the programming and special live check-ins at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.

During championship week we'll expand our hours of coverage on U.S. Open Live programming via Facebook. Our content's going to include practice round coverage, player interviews, in-depth analysis and we'll take fans inside the ropes with players as they practice behind the scenes of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Monday through Wednesday.

Complimenting Fox's coverage Thursday through Sunday we'll also do morning pre-round and evening wrap up shows.

Our global digital coverage will include exclusive live action on four channels, two featured group channels and a featured hole channel, plus a bonus stream with sights and sounds of Shinnecock featuring first tee coverage.

Our new multichannel video player will enable fans to customize their viewing experience. You can watch four channels at once, split screen, and we'll go picture in picture. Of course, you can also focus on one single stream and expand that to full screen. We're going to have a full channel guide detailing players as they come through holes, a full leaderboard, and content integration including highlights, social media, interactive polls and alerts.

We're really excited to provide this enhanced platform to the fans, giving them a more flexible and enriched viewing experience.

With respect to our U.S. Open app, we're going to continue to provide the best in U.S. Open content highlights, interviews, photos and features articles.

We're also going to have up-to-date player locations and scoring information as last year and a live video experience so fans can watch on the go.

For our fans on-site we have upgraded our player locator so users will get the benefit of knowing when the players are at the practice facility doing their final prep for golf's ultimate test. It's another great opportunity to get closer to their heroes.

We're also going to have push notifications to drive awareness and foot traffic to fan experiences on-site.

The 118th U.S. Open app will be released on May 31st on IOS and Android devices.

In 2018 we're fortunate to host the championship in one of the premier venues in the world. Our relationship with Shinnecock goes back to 1895, the second playing of the U.S. Open.

That history and our relationship made for an ideal year to mine the USGA archives and develop a product which we believe to be unique to the world of sports.

Created in partnership with Rolex, our U.S. Open history experience is a first-of--its kind interactive, fully immersive timeline that brings 117 years of U.S. Open Championships to life on usopen.com. Let's take a look.

(Video played. )

The user driven experience provides a journey through time by immersing fans in carefully curated photos, videos, infographics, championship scoring, and player statistics. USGA researchers tapped the archives of the USGA Golf Museum, including publications, periodicals, magazines, daily newspapers, and personal correspondence from as far back as the first championship. With video content dating to Ted Ray's victory in the 1920s fans can personalize their experience and access highlights from U.S. Open history featuring legendary champions, iconic venues, signature moments from the championship.

Golf enthusiasts will also be able to view full field hole by hole scoring data from more than 60 U.S. Opens going all the way back to the 1897 championship.

While viewers all over the world tune in to watch our broadcast, we know they're also going to be interacting with their phones and portable devices. And with 18 holes to cover, the U.S. Open offers a unique opportunity to capture the insight, the eyes and minds of the digital consumer, as the action's non-stop.

We look forward enriching both the casual fan and hard-core golfer and helping them maximize their enjoyment of the championship by offering a truly immersive experience.


CRAIG ANNIS: Thanks, Navin. So now we're going to take your questions. There will be two people in the audience Pete over here and Jeff on the other side that have microphones. Raise your hand and they will bring them to you. In addition to the four folks up here, myself available to answer questions, we will also have some of our staff in the front, some of the club officials as well, to answer any and all questions that you have. Open it up now.

Q. Mike this will be the first year of the two-hole playoff. Could you explain the discussions that went into that and why just two holes?
MIKE DAVIS: Okay, question was about our new playoff format. So this has been a, this is -- how to decide a tie in one of our Open Championships has been a long-debated subject and we recently came to the conclusion, after really talking to the stakeholders in the U.S. Open. So who are the stakeholders? They're the players who play in the Open, they're the fans that watch it both on-site as well as broadcasted, linear TV and digitally, and it's the vendors, it's really the club itself. And we came to the conclusion that people wanted, assuming Mother Nature's cooperative, people wanted the U.S. Open to finish Sunday. Wouldn't say it was unanimous -- so we started with that premise.

And I would also say, ladies and gentlemen, that there is no right or wrong way to determine a tie. You can do it by hole by hole or so called sudden death, that's what the Masters does. You can do it by something less than 18 holes, which is what the British Open has done and what now the PGA does. It's actually it's what we do at the Women's Open. We felt that on balance I think the stakeholders just wanted us to finish. So we have made that change -- I would tell you that sitting up here sometimes when somebody raises their hand and says, can you explain why at the U.S. Women's Open, biggest most important event in women's golf on the planet, why are you deciding your ties by three holes aggregate there, but doing an 18-hole at the U.S. Open? Pretty hard to answer that question.

I think that going back we had always been 18 holes. You go way back and we used to have a 36-hole playoff. In fact there was a year in the early 1930s where they were tied after 36 holes, guess what? They went another 36 holes. 144 holes to hand out the U.S. Open trophy and that gold Nicklaus medal.

So that's why we changed. Why we went to two holes? Simply put, we realized that we didn't want -- there was some reasons that we talked about that we thought going straight to a hole by hole or what some people know as a sudden death, maybe was a little much. It certainly isn't wrong, but I think that if a player shot a real low score and was done an hour and a half beforehand and had to sit around, that person would be in theory at a disadvantage.

We also looked at it saying, we looked back in data and really the data suggested that whether it's three holes, which is our Women's Open used to be or believe it or not our U.S. Senior Open when we first went from 18 holes we went to a four hole aggregate, and that did seem to take a little too much time and sometimes it got to the last hole and it was already over. So we thought that by having two holes, that there would be more excitement, but it wouldn't necessarily be one shot over. And frankly, think about this week. If we needed, if we have a tie after 72 holes, we're going to play the par-3, 17th. Wonderful par-3. And then that great finishing hole 18. Next year at Pebble Beach, 17 and 18. How iconic are those holes?

So again there's not a right or wrong but I think that's really on balance why we made the decision.

Q. I wanted to ask you a question. Over the years the USGA's emphasized half shot penalties for missing fairways. In this era now of the so called bomb and gouge, can you tell me how accuracy is being reemphasized for the U.S. Open?
MIKE DAVIS: Are you playing golf this afternoon? Well you'll find that half shot penalty out there.


Listen, accuracy has always been a part of it. Whether it's a half shot or not, who knows. The data would suggest that some U.S. Opens you get it in the heavy rough and it was pretty close to a half shot penalty. Others it was a little closer to a quarter shot penalty. But we believe and have long believed that we want to see all facets of the game tested. So we want to see your shot making ability, your ability to control your distance, your spin, your trajectory, your ability to recover around the greens, and I think by having it you use the term bomb and gouge, we think that the accuracy still needs to be a part of the test. We don't want to necessarily penalize somebody that can hit a ball a long way, if they can control the ball. So you will see at Shinnecock Hills this year, you're going to see penal rough and listen, when you go back and you start to study even more than a hundred years ago, there's traditions to that and I think we're proud of that tradition and it's going to, as I say, continue a month from now at the 118th playing of this U.S. Open.

Q. Can you talk about the length of the course and the tee boxes moving back, particularly 14 and 16 and the impact you think that distance will have on this year's championship.
MIKE DAVIS: Sure. Good question. So 14 is a wonderful golf hole of the it plays northeast, so the prevailing wind here is a southwest wind, if you were here for the last three Opens you know we couldn't go back any further with that tee because there was a -- Brett, what did you call it? There was a cottage there or it was probably not in the best condition, so the club decided to take that down and that gave us a great opportunity on that hole. But frankly, we were seeing irons played off that hole in previous U.S. Opens because it is downhill downwind with firm conditions and now I think that you will see some drivers, certainly probably some 3-woods as well.

On 16 we added roughly 70 yards to that. 70 yards. It's a par-5. There's two par-5s here, the 5th and the 16th holes. And that was a classic case, classic case of getting that Flynn architecture to work. That the further left that you hit your tee shot or that you do hit your tee shot there, the better angle for your second shot, but it's a longer carry. When you look back in the last three U.S. Opens, simply put, the players were hitting it way past those cross bunkers that Flynn designed. So this was an opportunity to get that back into play. And I would just tell you that same thing on the 6th hole, same thing on the 8th hole, that it's just getting the architecture back where it needed to be.

Q. Now that you've made a flat out promise and guarantee that shots will be received into the 7th green this year, you talked -- I mean you mentioned being on the edge, which is what the U.S. Open does and when you get really close to the edge there's always the chance of going over it. What is it about Shinnecock or what areas of Shinnecock would concern you in that regard?
MIKE DAVIS: Interesting question. To set up Shinnecock properly you really do have to have a sense of what's going to happen with the wind. This is a -- wind is such a great part of a championship because it forces the players to control their trajectory, control their spin, but the difference between playing a southwest wind and let's say a north wind is significantly different here at Shinnecock. And it's not uncommon to have a two, two and a half club wind.

So if you're playing downhill, I mean the 14th hole, that's 520 yards, par-4, and it makes sense because it's downhill, downwind with firm conditions. But all of a sudden if we got a north wind prediction there, we would very likely move the tee markers up some because you wouldn't have anybody in the field that could hit the green in two. I think that when we, when we're setting the course up, the risk really here at Shinnecock are not getting it right in terms of the wind. And that's both on how long we play the hole but also -- you point out the 7th hole and I would also point out the 11th hole, those greens, that if you get -- and they're severely sloped in the case of the redan 7th, it's the front right to the back left and in the case of 11 it's a back to front green. If you get a situation where the wind is blowing hard downwind, that's a case where we got to make sure that we have got the greens under control and frankly are a little slower. So if our meteorologist does a good job, we're going to know that ahead of time and probably prep those greens a little bit differently just because we do run that risk.

Q. We have had this discussion over the past few years, there have been some bumps in the road, some controversies, what would make this a good U.S. Open?
MIKE DAVIS: I think in so many ways you could say this about any U.S. Open, Women's Open, U.S. Amateur, Women's Amateur, we are blessed here in the United States to have more golf courses and more great golf courses than anywhere in the world. We're lucky enough as the national governing body to get invited to come to some of these great courses like Shinnecock Hills. So in so many ways what we just try to do is showcase those courses, showcase the architecture, have the best players in that given group of players, whether it's the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur or whether it's the U.S. Open, that it's set up in such a way that it really allows them to determine how exciting the championship is. So everyone of these things you have to work with Mother Nature and you have to be flexible enough, sometimes there's awkward situations that came up like at Oakmont with the Dustin Johnson ruling, but those can happen, that could have happened at any event anywhere. But it just so happened at the U.S. Open. So I think here we're excited, we know we're at one of the world's greatest golf courses, and to me just get this golf course setup properly and then sit back and watch the 156 best players in the world compete for that silver trophy to my left and that Nicklaus gold medal of the.

Q. You have talked about the shot values and wanted to see the more drivers back in players' playing. A little bit of a broad and vague question but how much of a challenge is it now that the players now days, champions like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka who hits it, given the right condition, who can carry the ball 330 or so, and for that, put that into consideration of putting cross bunkers in play or pinching the fairways and so forth.
JEFF HALL: I think one of the real joys of our championship is that we do get to move the championship around to a variety of golf courses. And each golf course offers its own unique test, its own ingredients into that ultimate test. We saw Erin Hills last year as a 7,800 yard golf course I think in my recollection one of the few U.S. Opens that every player in the field could hit driver on every hole other than a par-3, if they chose to do so, and many did.

Shinnecock is not quite as long, but the architecture here is very different. Next year we go to Pebble Beach. Pebble Beach isn't about 7,800 yards, Pebble Beach is about putting greens the size of this table that are going to be firm and having complete control of your golf ball. So it's not so much that we're going to go to a golf course and try to make it fit the U.S. Open, I think we have been extremely true to the architecture of Shinnecock Hills with what we're going to present in 2018. The club painstakingly went through this restoration to restore the strategy that William Flynn designed into the architecture and I think we have struck the right balance between the test of golf for the U.S. Open with a little bit of fairway narrowing that Mike referenced earlier and being true to the strategy that is Shinnecock Hills. It's our job to show off the golf course.

Q. Was part of the problem last time here with the greens drying out the way they did the sensitivity to protecting par at this layout and do you feel like the added distance this time will basically take care of it and is, is par a really important standard now, despite the how hot the golf ball is?
MIKE DAVIS: Well let me just try to explain in simple terms, what happened in 2004 was there simply wasn't enough moisture in the greens. So grass is just like any other plant, at some point if it doesn't have enough moisture, it begins to wilt. That's exactly what happened in 2004 and I would say this that looking back on that, the course was prepared very much in the same manner each day, but if you're prepping it in the same manner each day, you're not going to get the same golf course every day because without rain it's going to get faster and firmer each day that goes on.

So I think when you look back, simply put, it was a water management issue. Who is to say whether it was about protecting par, but I can tell you now, we want this championship to be the ultimate test. I can also tell you that we sitting here today, I have no idea, Jeff has no idea what's going to win, what the winning score is going to be because I would just tell you that I'm a believer that the difference between a soft, still U.S. Open, in other words, it's been raining, there's no wind out there, versus affirm and windy could be as much as 20 strokes. I'm not exaggerating. I really do believe that based on having watched this for about 30 years. So we never go into it saying we want even par to win. What we really do want to do is say, we want to test every aspect of their games. And that includes not only their shot making abilities but their course management abilities, their abilities to handle their nerves. And so when it gets firm, that means -- and what's great about playing a course like Shinnecock Hills is that it's built on sand. And when it's build on sand it's much different than heavy soils that if you have a rain event, you can get the golf course back 24, 36, at the most 48 hours versus if it's on heavy soils it may take you out of a firm championship for all four days.

The other thing Shinnecock, as I mentioned earlier, does is with the wind, you have to control your trajectory. So between figuring out with firm conditions what's going to happen when the ball bounces, and with wind how you control your trajectory, it literally can be 15, 20 strokes different between the winning scores if, with a soft, still Open versus a windy firm Open.

So we just can't, we don't have control of that and we can, as Jeff rightly said, we can only set the golf course up the best we can given all those circumstances.

Q. You referenced the Dustin Johnson incident at Oakmont. It's been a couple years now. What do you think the organization learned from how that played out as the final round was going on and what do you think would be different if you had a ruling incident like that this year?
MIKE DAVIS: Yeah, that's a great question. I might have Jeff, who is a little closer to the Rules of Golf now answer that one, if you would.

JEFF HALL: We certainly learned a lot that afternoon. And the game is in a much better place as a result. With respect to the changes that have been made in the rules, now if that situation happens with a ball on the putting green and a player causes that ball to move, there's not going to be a penalty. We're going to put the ball back where it was. So the, that conversation that you have with Dustin in that situation is a little bit of a different type of conversation. We put the protocols with respect to reviewing -- what happened with Dustin on that putting green was perhaps less of a contribution to the issue than our management of it. The people that were involved in making those decisions were scattered about on the golf course and it took us time to react and get that.

19 days later we conducted the Women's Open and we had a completely different protocol in place and the very first round of that Women's Open we had a Dustin Johnson-like situation with a player and made a very efficient quick decision before the player left the putting green. So that protocol that we put in place was also adopted throughout golf at the highest levels, the rules have been changed to help us with that and local rule that's in place as a result of the Lexi Thompson case, the game is in a much better place with as a result of what we went through on that Sunday afternoon.

Q. There was a quote a few weeks back from Rory McIlroy that said he didn't, he didn't really care as much about the U.S. Open as opposed to Augusta National. Do you guys feel that is an opinion unique to Rory, given that he's had struggles at Augusta and if that is not the case, how do you guys think you can elevate the experience of the players in the tournament as opposed to the fans?
MIKE DAVIS: Well I'll try to answer that. I do think that's each individual's opinion. Whether you're playing in the U.S. Open or you're one of the millions around the world watching it, I mean we just saw highlights of people likely Trevino, Tom Watson saying something different. I think we have immense respect for our 2011 U.S. Open champion in Rory, he's great for the game, and so I think it's personal preference. But for us this really does boil down to -- what makes the U.S. Open so unique is like Jeff said, once we get 9 to 10,000 people, 9 to 10,000 people trying to qualify for this dream. We play on some of this country's very best golf courses. There is a method to our so-called madness with how we set the golf course up and it's something that's been going on for nearly a century and a quarter with this U.S. Open setup. So to meaning just having a, you know that's our brand if you will. That's what makes the U.S. Open special. Sometimes you're going to get a really tough test of golf like you go back to 2006, 2007, at Winged Foot and Oakmont. Plus-5 won those U.S. Opens and you know what the players weren't complaining there was anything unfair. And why was that? Well first of all they were great courses and it was tough. But they were both really firm, because we didn't have rain, and they were both breezy. Then you get when Rory won by eight shots at Congressional in 2011, guess what? No wind for four days, and they were essentially throwing darts because it was a very soft Congressional. But did that make that championship anything less? No, it's just a lower winning score. We got a great champion in McIlroy that year and just like that year we did when Tiger won by 15 shots in 2000. So that's the U.S. Open. So listen, one of the things that makes a U.S. Open and Masters, British Open, PGA Championship different from week-to-week is we're still talking about those things. We're still talking about it. Are we talking about -- I'm not going to name a name -- but who won the event three years ago on a week to week event? You don't really talk about that. So this is history. We're talking about an event here that in 1896 that was almost a quarter of a century or a sense century and a quarter ago, we're still talking about that event here at Shinnecock Hills.

Q. You got the split on exempt and non-exempt which is about 50/50 which is what you want, but a couple years ago you had a criteria where if someone won two PGA TOUR events during an open wrap around they would be exempt. You've had that case this year with Patton Kizzire. I'm just curious if you've had any conversations of reintroducing that?

JEFF HALL: We have really tried to focus on the official World Golf Ranking rankings as being the North Star. Obviously performance in the Majors, winners are coming into our championship as exempt. Performance in our championships is important as exempt players. But all of the tours around the world have bought into the official World Golf Ranking rankings. And this provides that just the right place for us to be with exemptions. We don't have to get into the weighting of one tour over another, this championship versus that event, a week to week event, we focus on the official World Golf Rankings and it seems to get us the right players for our championship.

Q. Why did you guys go 60 and not 50?
JEFF HALL: When we crunched the numbers, it made the most sense to us to keep that 50/50 balance. We felt we could take 10 more players from the official World Golf Rankings and still strike the proper balance between exempt and places to play for in qualifying.

CRAIG ANNIS: Well thank you, everyone, just briefly because they weren't here when I recognized him we couldn't do this without the support of local, state and county government. So a special thanks to Michael Irving, the Mayor of the Village of Southampton for joining us and County Executive Steve Malone. Thank you.

Thanks to all the media that are gathered here today for your questions. Some of the speakers will be available for some other questions immediately following this as well as some photo opportunities with the trophy. Lunch will be available just outside the door at the registration desk. And the practice range for those of you playing is open.

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