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August 9, 2008
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, MICHIGAN
JULIUS MASON: Ladies and gentlemen, Ryan Cannon is the 2008 PGA Championship tournament director, and Kerry Haigh, right next to me, is the PGA of America's managing director of championships.
I'd like to quickly turn it over to Ryan Cannon first for a statement for local and regional media. Ryan?
RYAN CANNON: Yes, good evening. I believe you all have a copy of our notice to spectators for our local and regional folks. If you do have any question specific to that, we'll be more than happy to answer them.
A quick summary is that Saturday tickets will be honored on Sunday, but all of the specifics to that message are in the notice to spectators. So if you have any questions, be happy to try to answer them.
JULIUS MASON: Ryan, thanks. Mr. Haigh, a statement, and then we can answer any questions you have, ladies and gentlemen.
KERRY HAIGH: Good evening. Similar the notice to competitors, I believe everyone has stating the plan for tomorrow with the third round restart, the advance will leave Maple Road at 7:00 am, all players must be in position and ready to play at 7:15 and the final three starting times for the final three pairings will be 7:20, 7:30 and 7:40 a.m. Third round is expected to be completed at about 11:50 a.m. and the final championship round will be played in groups of three from both Tee 1 and Tee 10, starting times beginning at 12:20 through 2:20.
The golf course, we had over half an inch and a half of rain, and it is still raining, but it is supposed to stop here in about an hour, hour and a half. We feel we can get the course back in shape for tomorrow morning for the resumption. Steve Cook and the superintendent and his staff and volunteer staff are all ready to go. They have done an outstanding job all week and are ready to meet the test once again tonight and tomorrow.
We did obviously try to get play resumed this afternoon. We had a couple of breaks where it looked like we had a possibility to play, but both times, cells built up again behind to the west, so obviously we did not get out.
With that, any questions.
JULIUS MASON: Questions, folks.
Q. In retrospect, a lot of people were saying the course was close to over the edge yesterday. Was that your assessment, and if so, was your reaction today to make it slightly easier; in the big picture what, did you want for this golf course?
KERRY HAIGH: I think everyone realizes and knows the golf course is a classic championship test, and with great bunkering, classic green complexes, and narrow fairways, which make for a great test for any player, and without a doubt, it's one of the most difficult golf courses in the country, if not the world.
I think we knew that coming in, and it is a very challenging test. Clearly Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, each day we had rain in the forecast; rain was coming, and each day it just skirted us by. Obviously we were unlucky enough to have it hit us today. And then tied with that, Thursday and Friday, northwest winds at 20 to 25 miles an hour with no cloud cover and sunshine all day, certainly meant that it was extremely drying conditions.
So with that, we did make some adjustments today to obviously compensate for yesterday when another 14 hours of no clouds and 25-mile-an-hour winds will dry any golf course out.
Q. Can you give me your feelings at this point about graduated rough, and is it something you feel comfortable with in the future for the PGA?
KERRY HAIGH: It's something that we look at. I think every golf course, you need to look at, see how it's designed. Some courses have fairway roll-offs off the sides of greens. Here, we expanded the step-cut of rough on some holes, so in some ways, the step-cut was expanded out to the primary rough.
Yeah, I think it depends on the golf course you're playing and the amount of space that you have to make a second or third cut.
Q. With all of the water today, specifically how do you expect that to change your course setup at all tomorrow as far as tees and pins?
KERRY HAIGH: Not at all for round three. We'll be obviously staying as we are.
Q. For the final round.
KERRY HAIGH: Right. Well, we'll be thinking about that following the round. We do have -- it's set right now, but we will kind of look at what's happened and see where things stand, and if we need to make adjustments, we certainly will.
Q. You mentioned adjustments that you made for today; Andres Romero shot 65. Could you enumerate exactly what the adjustments were? Was there extra watering on the greens? Did you top off the rough? What exactly did you do in preparation for round three?
KERRY HAIGH: We mowed all of the roughs Wednesday, and the plan was to look at it, see how it was coping and growing. Considered cutting the rough again Friday, and we did, in fact, do so in the fairway landing areas last night.
And we also put some water on the fairways, or some more -- a little more water than had done the previous night. And continued to syringe and put some water on the greens. Basically that was it.
Q. The comparison between the Sunday at Baltusrol circumstances are sort of obvious in terms of a dire afternoon weather forecast, some concern as to whether you would get a head start by earlier tee times. One, was there any consideration to try to go out earlier today, given the forecast? And two, since that time, have there been any discussions as to a general policy about moving tee times up relative to negative weather circumstances?
KERRY HAIGH: We did not look to change the times for today. We saw the forecast, which you know, each day we have had a forecast suggesting rain in the afternoons, or certainly Tuesday, Wednesday we did. So no to the first question.
Can you repeat the second question?
Q. Since Baltusrol, has there been any subsequent conversations about consideration of moving tee times relative to weather forecasts and circumstances in order to try to be certain to get play in?
KERRY HAIGH: I think we try to look at the championship and with our partners in the championship to make sure it is run successfully and it is run well.
We'll do what's best for the championship, but obviously we try not to change and adjust unless it's absolutely necessary.
Q. Your setups in the past few years have almost been free of much player carping about the setup. Did you have a sense that this year would be different, given the history and nature of this course?
KERRY HAIGH: I think it's rare that we get 75 degrees and 25-mile-an-hour winds out of the north with sunshine in August, which certainly had a bearing on how the golf course played.
Obviously we wanted to try to keep the condition of the course somewhat similar for both Thursday and Friday and not make significant adjustments. So once you're into it, in fairness, into earlier and later tee times, you try to keep the balance where you can, which is what we try to do.
Certainly it was a tough, tough challenge yesterday and Thursday. It's a tough golf course, there's no question.
Q. At this time, are there any bunkers or greens that would be considered unplayable? How many are out there?
KERRY HAIGH: No, not -- Steve Cook, as I mentioned, and his crew have been out twice in between the breaks, and both times they, not repaired, but re-raked the wash-out areas and removed the debris, and once the rain is out of here his team will be out there again and he and his team are to be commended with all of the work they are doing to keep it going.
No, there's nothing at this point that would prohibit us from playing tomorrow.
Q. Will the short turnaround between the third and fourth round change any plans you had when it comes to what tee boxes you were going to use on a couple of the shorter holes, or anything like that?
KERRY HAIGH: No, we wouldn't make that decision as we set up, we will still be setting up ahead of play as we normally do and so we'll be doing that based on the conditions as they present tomorrow at 12:00.
Q. How much does this amount of water in a short period of time in your mind change the greens? Will they be demonstrably softer or is this what you would be normally throwing on at night with sprinklers and will the guys be able to go more aggressively, and will you mow in the morning and how will that change conditions for guys that haven't finished?
KERRY HAIGH: The first question, I think it's fair to say, I think they will be significantly more receptive than they have the first 2 1/2 days, no question.
Yes, we will mow the greens tomorrow. We'll mow the tees. We'll rake the bunkers.
KERRY HAIGH: Yes, in the morning before play we will do that, and based on the condition of the fairways, and time allowed, we may be -- that may be up in the air whether or not we mow the fairways.
Q. I know you addressed earlier, I'd just like to get some clarification, there's been some talk about the rough getting raked this week. Could you address that one more time as to how that's done and why that's done?
KERRY HAIGH: Certainly. For the past 10 or 12 PGA Championships that I can speak of, we have found, certainly in practice rounds when players play, they walk all around the greens in the rough and their caddies walk and their golf bags are laid down, and by the end of any day, all of the rough is basically laying flat.
So if there is sufficient staff on the grounds crew or volunteer staff to help, we have implemented, and I think in many events, not just ours, but many events implement where you try to stand the grass back up; because when you walk tee-to-green you're flattening all the grass, and they basically rake it back up so it's playable again and consistent.
Q. So it's not a concerted effort to be against the players, it's supposed to be a certain grain or direction?
KERRY HAIGH: No, it's not a concerted effort against the player. It's to make the stand up and be consistent so that it's fair throughout and balls land in the rough fairly.
Q. The course obviously played significantly different today than it has the past two days. If you had your preference, which would you rather see tomorrow; would you rather see some more of the players making a Sunday charge turning in 67s and 66s and scoring some birdies, or would you prefer to go back to what we saw the first two days, where it was a superb challenge and test but also a very difficult one with very few birdies.
KERRY HAIGH: I think -- well, the conditions are going to dictate how the players play, and certainly if they are able to fire at the greens or at the flags, it will certainly create some more birdie possibilities and obviously more excitement. So we are looking forward to a great championship Sunday tomorrow with an awful lot of golf for the spectators to come in and have a wonderful day and hopefully get some sunshine and a great champion, crown a great champion tomorrow evening.
Q. Were you pleased with the way the golf course played today prior to the rain?
KERRY HAIGH: Yes, very -- I didn't see that much of the play, obviously the leaders did not even tee off. I did kind of take a glance during the delay at some of the scoring, and it seemed like although there was some very good scoring, there was also some not-so-good scoring.
Q. Sort of what you intended, in a perfect world so to speak?
KERRY HAIGH: It certainly allowed the players to play, and to probably be a little more aggressive maybe today. Yeah, I would say so. Yes, I was very happy with it.
Q. Could you talk about tomorrow's weather forecast, is it good or not good, and how big is the window -- how much of a delay can you have tomorrow and still finish tomorrow night?
KERRY HAIGH: Well, everything is a little condensed obviously. Pace of play will be important. We'll need to start on time and need to get everyone out on time. And the turnaround between the third round and the fourth round to get the pairings out, to have the players ready, to be in position ready to go at 12:20 again for those first groups, if all is well, we may still -- we should still have time even if there's a playoff for a three-hole aggregate score playoff if need be.
But it will be tight.
Q. And how is the weather looking?
KERRY HAIGH: Oh, sorry. The forecast right now is generally much better than today, hopefully dry. There is a chance of isolated showers, but there certainly isn't the front that came through as it did today. So we are optimistic, but you know weather.
Q. Was part of your adjustments for today putting the pins in some more accessible places? Players were commenting on how they seemed to be a little more reachable in some places today.
KERRY HAIGH: Maybe a little bit. But you know, there are only so many locations on these greens. If you stand on some of these greens to find four locations, if you had a free choice of where the four easiest locations were, for example, I think you would have a hard time finding four easy locations; in fact, one easy location you can't find on some of them.
The 9th green is a classical green; there is not an easy location on that green. That in itself is part of the challenge and mystique of Oakland Hills, and it's a great challenge.
JULIUS MASON: Kerry Haigh and Ryan Cannon, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.
End of FastScripts