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June 18, 2009

Mike Davis

Jim Hyler


JIM HYLER: Ladies and gentlemen, we're getting to be a regular visit. Mike and I are here to sort of give you an update on where we are now. And I'm going to attempt to bridge my last message to you with the decision to go ahead and suspend play for the day.
When I was down here earlier, our forecast was that the rain would lighten up considerably by around 1:30. There might be a few lingering showers but around 2:15 or so we felt like -- all the weather guys felt like the rain would end and that we would have a chance to get back on the golf course.
Obviously it's now 2:21 and it's still raining very hard. What happened was there was some weather that filled in behind what we thought was the end and it's continuing to rain.
So now the expected time for lighter rain is more like 3:30, and Mike and Jeff Holland and I toured a few holes of the golf course and we felt it would just be very difficult to get the course prepped and get the players back out there for any meaningful time, so we made the decision to go ahead and attempt not to resume today.
Mike will go over the mechanics where we go tomorrow and for the next few days. I would tell you the weather forecast for tomorrow is possibly more, some lingering rain into tomorrow morning. But we think tomorrow will be a decent day. Saturday is more problematic and the words that our weather people are using is "sort of like today."
So Saturday does not look good. And then there's a possibility of rain, more rain, not like this, but more rain Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of next week. So we're just -- there's a low pressure area that's just sitting here and it's just dumping right on the western end of Long Island.
So that's where we are with the weather and I hope you see what changed from the time I was standing here an hour and a half ago. So with that Mike is going to get into some details about the mechanics of how we go forward.
MIKE DAVIS: Sure. I think everybody heard that obviously we were done for the day. The plan for tomorrow is we're going to resume play at 7:30 a.m. we're going to open practice facilities up at 6:00 a.m., and by roughly 7:00 that means players are in their shuttle vehicles heading out to all parts of the golf course.
So it's essentially almost like a shotgun start at 7:30 tomorrow. We will start what was today supposed to be the afternoon wave. So those players teeing off at 12:30 today, they will be going off at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. And then we will start Round 2 at 4:00 p.m.
So we obviously anticipate getting a decent amount of golf in, and then obviously Round 2 will spill over into Saturday.
What we don't know right now is what Jim just said: Our meteorologists are telling us that it is very likely that we can get another inch plus of rain on Saturday. And we all know how this golf course is right now. So the question is just how playable the golf course is.
But an ideal goal would be to get Round 2 finished by Saturday. But based on that weather forecast, that's not looking terribly promising.
And then I think the last thing to address is the goal here is to play as much golf as we can on any given day. And if that means, because we've done it before there's certainly precedent on it, that if we need to we will play slightly more than even 36 holes once we play the cut.
Now, I'm not sure we'll get that in given the weather. But that has happened before. And the only other thing, and Jim you may have covered it before, that there's also a history and the USGA is firm on this, that we will not determine a national champion until we play 72 holes.
So if that takes us into Monday or Tuesday, whatever, we had a Women's Open several years ago back in the 1980s finish up on Tuesday and unfortunately we had a playoff that went into Wednesday. But anyway not trying to be pessimistic, but we will play 72 holes.
JIM HYLER: I guess a perfect scenario would be, given what we know now, we would finish the second round Saturday, by the end of the day Saturday, and then try to play 36 Sunday. So our goal is to still finish late Sunday.

Q. To both of you, probably more Mike, not to be facetious, the likelihood of this finishing Sunday with this forecast seems to be extremely remote. In your experience in setting up golf courses, is it more likely that we're looking at Tuesday, or even Monday at the earliest?
MIKE DAVIS: Well, you're right if the forecast we've got right now for Saturday and so on were absolutely accurate -- and we know we've just seen it in the last two hours how forecasts just don't seem to work out the way they want -- yes, absolutely finishing on Sunday would be borderline impossible.
That said, maybe Saturday ends up not being as bad as it sounds. If there is one I suppose, some silver lining in this, a glimmer of hope, is that the course, believe it or not, as much rain as this course has taken, it drains beautifully with really the exception of that area down in 18 fairway.
You look out there right now. We've gotten well over an inch of rain, after all the rain we've gotten already and there's hardly any water in the bunkers, and it's really just casual water right now, and they've got a wonderful system, the ground staff with these dry wells of pumping out that area under 18 so they can squeegee it.
And the other side of the golf course, it's really quite good in terms of how it drains. So as bad as it looks right now on camera, if this was a course on heavier soil on clay, I think we'd be real worried right now, not that we're not worried. But I think that it's nice to be on this type of course when you get this kind of weather.

Q. How does this affect ticket holders today, people that have grounds passes for today and also how does this affect your broadcast partner where the schedule is nicely divvied up between NBC and ESPN?
JIM HYLER: On the ticket-holder question I'm going to refer you to Rand Jerris, If you see him afterwards, Rand can help you out with that. On the broadcast partners, we are dealing with the weather and they're adaptable and we just have to deal with it as best we can.

Q. With realistic weather expectations, in what way will this golf course play in a resemblance to what you intended it to play for this championship?
MIKE DAVIS: Well, you know, it is rather frustrating, the second U.S. Open here and we had a rather wet, soft U.S. Open last time. This course, if you come out here most of the time, plays beautifully firm, because it does sit on kind of a sandy loam soil. So it's very frustrating that we're not really getting to see the true Bethpage, where you're bouncing balls in. You have to think about what happens when your ball bounces, because that's the best kind of golf in terms of testing the best players' ability, is to really think about what happens after your ball lands.
So out there right now they're able to rifle low 3-irons and have them stop on a dime, so to speak. So that's frustrating, but having said that, while it makes say keeping a ball on the fairway easier and hitting a ball and keeping it on the green easier, it certainly makes the length of the course harder.
So you probably would be more frustrated if you were on a real -- on a shorter golf course, say a Pebble Beach, a Marian, or something like that, that if those get real wet then all of a sudden the test of golf becomes significantly easier.
But here you've got the length to some extent to counteract it.

Q. Mike or Jim, how would having USGA subsurface greens impact the greens the way they're playing? Would it help at all?
MIKE DAVIS: You know, these greens are essentially the old pushup. In fact, if you look at it, we rarely play U.S. Opens on USGA spec greens. We do at Pinehurst because they rebuilt their greens and Pinehurst happens to be a Sandy area. And going down the road, there will be a few newer courses we're playing on.
But all our U.S. Open courses really are on the old pushups. Now, understand that these old pushups have been modified over the years with a lot of deep-tine aerification and they do a lot of drainage work in them. While they're not USGA spec greens they do tend to start to act like that.
But our problem, if it weren't raining right now, even if the greens were dry, we still couldn't be playing golf. There's just casual water all over the fairways. You'd be at the point where you'd need to take relief, and your relief may be 150 yards away. But good question.

Q. Are you concerned with all the rain we've had in the last couple of weeks that even though this place drains well, as you say, there will be a cumulative point where it just starts backing up?
MIKE DAVIS: Bill, that's a good question. We've asked Craig Currier that who knows this course quite well, although Craig will readily admit he's just not dealt these cards very often.
But having said that, he does feel comfortable with everything that's working out there that will -- it does drain very well naturally. The only place you need to do it a little unnaturally is down on that 18th fairway area.
So if it was dry it would be much better, obviously. But it's not -- it's not to the point where it's so waterlogged that we're not going to be able to play golf at some juncture when it stops raining.

Q. Mike, because 18 is sort of the, I guess, the most cautious part of this course because it floods up, will that determine how the rest of the course is affected, because it is going to be the final hole?
MIKE DAVIS: Sure. You know, 18 would be our most problematic hole with respect to through the green areas. I would say there's a few other greens on the course such as the second hole, which does tend to puddle up a little bit more than other greens.
In fact, No. 2 was the one we had the most problems with in 2002. But, yes, in fact we could, as Jim mentioned, we could get some lingering showers into tomorrow.
So we checked the entire golf course, and I would say the area through the green that will be most mindful will be the 18th fairway.
Understand, that doesn't mean there can't be casual water on there. We're looking at the area that's casual water and saying, okay, if a player's ball's here and he wants to take relief under the casual water rule, where is his nearest point of relief. And I think that even when 18 gets real wet, you'll find that probably the intermediate rough, and it's not that far away, it really doesn't change the nature of the shot that much.
So those are the things we're really looking at. I think the key thing here at Bethpage is that it's been the putting greens that has really stopped play. That's why we were stopped today. It was not the 18th fairway. It was the putting greens that just became unplayable.

Q. I just wanted to ask, is there a potential for the workers and the spectator areas, the non-course areas, to become so saturated to become dangerous or a safety hazard to just considered, having to make changes in that regard?
JIM HYLER: I'm not sure I understand your question. You're saying in the non-playing areas?

Q. What if it gets so wet that it becomes a safety concern for the spectators?
JIM HYLER: In the non-playing areas.

Q. Some of the hills and slopes.
JIM HYLER: Our ops people are out there also watching and monitoring people-movement areas, and we put down wood chips and put down gravel. We'll try to take every precaution we can given what we're dealing with.

Q. Mike, how much rain actually has fallen at this point?
And you said the other day, Jim, I think you had 200 volunteers coming out. Are more reinforcements going to be necessary? How many people will be working on the golf course tonight?
MIKE DAVIS: Well, the exact rain amount I'm not sure I can tell you. About 20, 25 minutes ago it was slightly over an inch. And we're getting two different figures. One from the superintendent and then one from our metrologist.
But it's over an inch. They thought when this was all said and done that it could be up to an inch and a half today.
By the way, now that I'm thinking about it -- I misspoke there -- Congressional Country Club in Washington is another course that has USGA spec greens on.
Jim, do you want to take the other part?
JIM HYLER: Craig has about 65 people on his staff, his permanent staff for all the courses here. Of course they're all focused on the Black course right now. There are about 150 volunteers who are here working this week. So that's a little over 200 people. There are no plans to call in others. I mean, that's a lot of people to scatter around 18 holes. So as soon as they can get out there and start to work, they will be.
I think you've seen some shots on TV of the guys on 18 squeegeeing water now. So I think we've got a good crew of people who can rally and can do the best job possible with what they have.
Thank you.

End of FastScripts

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