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June 13, 2001

David Fay

Trey Holland

Fred Ridley


RAND JERRIS: It's a pleasure to announce the three gentlemen up here on the podium with me. From left to right, Mr. Fred Ridley, the vice president of the United States Golf Association and the director of the Championship Committee. At the center, Trey Holland, the president of the United States Golf Association. And on the right, David Fay, the executive director of the Association. I'm going to hand the microphone over for Mr. Holland for our meeting.

TREY HOLLAND: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the press conference at the 101st United States Open Championship. We are prepared to answer, obviously, any questions that you may have about the Championship. We'll be happy to answer questions about other things that you may be wondering about, and we will remain here afterwards, if any of you have any other questions that maybe we didn't get to during the course of the press conference. So without further adieu, I'd like to turn things over to Fred Ridley, as Rand said, chairman of the Championship Committee.

FRED RIDLEY: Thank you, Trey, and welcome everyone to the 2001 U.S. Open. I think we have one of the strongest fields this year in the history of the Open; in fact, of any major championship. The top 57 players on the World Golf Rankings are here at Southern Hills, and I think that's a first. I think one of the only times -- three times, I think, that all of the top 50 in the World Golf Rankings have been present at the Open Championship. One of the goals in expanding the exemption categories to include the top 50 in the World Golf Rankings, as well as the top 2 money winners on the Japan and Australasian Tours was to achieve as many international players into the field as possible, and I think we've accomplished that. We're very pleased about that. I'd like to talk a little bit about the golf course. Southern Hills has done a wonderful job in getting this golf course, John Szklinski and his staff, with the assistance and guidance of Tim Moraghan, have just done a terrific job, under not the best of conditions and weather conditions over the winter in getting the golf course into what I feel is one of the best conditions that I've ever seen a U.S. Open site. The greens have been universally commended by the players as being some of the finest they've played on. The fairways are running very fast, and we couldn't be more pleased with the condition of the golf course. As was done a couple of years ago at Pinehurst, you probably noticed the rough is a little lower than perhaps in some past Open Championships. It's being maintained at about three and a half inches. It looks like it's coming along very nicely, very consistent. It will provide plenty of a challenge for the player who happens to hit the ball in the primary rough. Although, there should be opportunity in many cases for the player to actually go for the green. And we felt that that would add some challenge and some interest to those shots, as opposed to just going in with a sand wedge and getting the ball back out to the fairway. The golf course is relatively long. Although, those of you who have been out on the course, as I'm sure you have, looking at some of the shots into these greens, it wouldn't appear that long. It's just under 7,000 yards, 6,973. Certainly not the longest U.S. Open venue by any means. There have been several holes on the golf course that have been lengthened, and that's something, of course, that the USGA has been doing over many years, lengthening golf courses for the Open. Some of the more noticeable holes, of course, the 18th has been lengthened to 466 yards. Players for the most part are still getting the ball down on the lower plateau, if they choose to hit driver. A number of players have actually continued to hit fairway woods, leaving still a very difficult shot into that green. As has been discussed already this week in the interview with John and Tim yesterday, the 9th and the 18th green have caused concern. It's certainly something we acknowledge and we are taking all appropriate steps to rectify. The greens on 9 and 18 are being maintained at a higher height, and as well as some additional watering and fertilization, with the goal being to -- to as much as possible achieve a consistent speed and firmness with the other greens, and certainly to maintain a fair surface, given the conditions on those greens. We were out this morning on the golf course on 9 and 18 and observed a much improved condition on those greens and have heard comments from several players that would confirm that. So I think those greens will be in good shape by tomorrow. Certainly, No. 18 is probably the most difficult finishing hole ever in a U.S. Open Championship. While normally we try to locate four of the most challenging hole locations on 18 this year, we actually are going to be trying to locate some areas that aren't quite as challenging, given the severity of that green, the difficulty of the hole, as a whole. I think the past winners of the Open and other major championships at Southern Hills, someone told me that each has bogeyed the 72nd hole. I think there will be some high drama there, and we're doing our best to keep that green in a condition that's going to recognize the circumstances that exist there. That's really all I had to say about the golf course. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Q. Where exactly are the possible places you can put the flag currently on 18 -- top shelf, is that it?

FRED RIDLEY: In 1977, the hole was placed on that top shelf all four days. There are three good locations back on the top shelf. There is a location on the bottom left of that green which is one we're looking at, but we have not decided if we're going to locate it there. It's a little down on the edge, given the conditions, but we are looking at that for a possible one-day location.

Q. At the Senior PGA at Ridgewood, Tommy Horton was disqualified for using an illegal driver. He claimed he didn't realize it was an illegal driver. Has anything been done to alert the players, giving them a list of illegal equipment, so that something like that couldn't happen?

DAVID FAY: We have it on our Web page. I will have to double-check to see if there's a posting up in the player's locker room. I think that by and large, with the exception of Tommy, and that was very unfortunate, that the manufacturers of the clubs in question have been in contact with the players. But we'll have to check on that to see if there's a notice up in the player's locker room.

Q. Is there any meeting scheduled with the R&A on the core situation, and any solution in the offing on illegal drivers?

DAVID FAY: Jeff, the answer is: Yes, we do have a meeting scheduled with representatives of the R&A this week.

Q. Gentlemen, 63 has been the cut-off point for the best score ever in a major. Given the technology of golf and that Tiger has raised the bar so high for himself and everyone else, are we far away from seeing a 62 in a major, and given the toughness of this course is that possible even on this course?

FRED RIDLEY: Certainly, anything is possible. I think I would never say that it's not possible, given the talent of these players. The objective of the setup, obviously, is to present the most challenging possible conditions that are achievable. I would think that a player would not shoot 62 at Southern Hills this week, but certainly -- that's certainly possible.

Q. During yesterday's practice they were spritzing the 18th green, almost every group. Will that be done during the competition, and if so, with the heat and humidity and the wind, have you done something like that at another U.S. Open, where you've treated it like that?

FRED RIDLEY: That's something that you may want to, after the press conference -- I think Tim Moraghan is here, and you may want to ask him after the conference. He can answer that.

Q. Trey, last year there was supposedly a situation with Tiger where a fan called in about him possibly mismarking a ball. How close did you guys come to -- did you talk to him about it? Was it close to a disqualification situation?

TREY HOLLAND: The situation with Tiger was investigated very thoroughly. Not only in terms of talking with Mr. Woods, but in looking at various tapes from different angles. And after doing that, it was very clear to us that there was no violation, and that there was nothing even close to a disqualification situation.

Q. David, getting back to the meeting with the R&A about the standard, what do you expect to happen? I mean, what is the -- will there eventually be a uniform policy by both associations or do you think we're still going to be going on with one set of rules for one area and another set of rules for another area?

DAVID FAY: I really can't answer that. Obviously, the goal would be uniformity. We're not there yet on this particular issue. That's why we're having these meetings. But I can't give you a real progress report at this point.

Q. How much water and how much fertilizer on 18?

FRED RIDLEY: Once again, the specifics of this, I'll defer to Tim Moraghan. I know that there was some fertilization last evening, and the water is just -- really, it's an hour-by-hour type issue, because it's based on the heat, the wind and other things. But I think Tim could give you a little more specifics on that.

Q. Same topic. Can you give us the difference of the calibration of the mowings from 18 and the other ones? From what I understand they will remain standard.

FRED RIDLEY: The 18th and 9th greens have not been mowed since yesterday morning. I think whether or not and when and the height they're going to be mowed will be determined on how things look today at the end of this day. But the object or the goal would be to try to maintain those at a fair pace and a fair firmness, because there are different conditions on those two greens.

Q. We just came back from a Women's Open where the players seemed to be very happy with the setup going off on the first and ten tees, on the first two days as far as pace of play. Has there been any consideration of doing that for the -- for this tournament? I notice the tee times Thursday go pretty late. Are you fairly confident you're going to -- everyone is going to get their rounds in if we have a five-and-a-half-hour round?

FRED RIDLEY: At the present time, there is no consideration to go into two tees. There is consideration being given to two tees in practice rounds going forward, and that decision has not been made yet. But at the present time, there is no consideration being given for two tees for the Championship itself.

Q. Are you confident you're going to be able to finish with those late tee times?

FRED RIDLEY: That certainly depends on the weather. We hope with good weather we will, yes. One additional thing I would like to mention that doesn't relate to the Open, but you'll see a press release when you leave here announcing that the 2006 Senior Open has been awarded to Pumpkin Ridge, and the 2006 U.S. amateur is going to be played at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota.

Q. Trey, I hope I'm not belaboring the point, but could you address in an overall perspective the way golf, as it might be perceived by people around the world, in terms of rules now and in the future, the agreement of the USGA and R&A; aren't you concerned about this? I know you are, but is there really an answer here? You've got people out there, some who are laughing at you and ridiculing you because the two rule-making bodies cannot agree on rules. You've got drivers and golf balls and God knows what down the road. Is there something you can offer us that is optimistic in terms of addressing issues, not only now, but in the future?

TREY HOLLAND: Well, I think what I'd say in answer to your question is that we're discussing these issues at a pretty heated pace. We had a number of meetings at Augusta during The Masters. We've had some informal meetings since then. We have some meetings scheduled this week with the R&A. We're well aware of the concern which you raise. We don't like the situation. I don't want to speak for the R&A, but I don't think they like it, either. We want to resolve this and we're going to work as diligently as we can to get it done. I cannot give you a time table by which that will occur, and on that basis, I can't say that I'm optimistic that it's going to occur tomorrow, the day after or next week. We can just do the best we can to try to discuss the issues and get them resolved.

Q. In light of the Casey Martin ruling a couple of weeks ago, there were some people thought there would be a flood of people coming to all the governing bodies and asking for the same sort of consideration. Have you seen any kind of increase or any numbers at all of people who would like to ride a cart who couldn't until this decision came?

DAVID FAY: We've had two specific requests. One from a competitor in the Senior Open qualifier; he was denied the cart. And another request from a competitor in the Amateur Public Links. He is requesting a cart and we've not responded to him. I can't get into any specifics beyond that, because it would be involving the confidentiality, really, of the player.

Q. Were they disabilities or were they injuries?

DAVID FAY: The question was were they disabilities or injuries. They would have to be disabilities under the ADA. But it's still a matter of the disability; are they entitled to an accommodation under the statute, and is there a possibility that they would have a competitive advantage. And as we've said after the decision was made, which we weren't a party to, and I would also say that I don't think anybody here would question that the passage of the ADA was one of the best things that the Congress has done in the last 15 to 20 years. Neither the statute, nor really to a degree, the opinion, has provided us with a clear road map. They provided us with some information. But we're going to have to deal with these matters on a case-by-case basis, individual by individual, recognizing we have about 30,000 entrants who are attempting to qualify for our championships, 11 of which require walking.

Q. Talk about the indoor test change you're going to make in 2000.

DAVID FAY: With respect to the way we test golf balls, we have made a number of announcements about our desire to test the balls indoors, optimization, but I can tell you there is no specific time table at this time.

TREY HOLLAND: If there are no further questions, we'll be happy to remain here afterwards, and thanks for attending.

End of FastScripts...

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