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June 17, 2010

Mike Davis

Thomas O'Toole, Jr.


Q. Mike, I didn't get a chance to get to ask this question when you were in the other day, but one of my favorite quotes from a high up USGA official a couple years ago was, we're looking for a Midwest venue if you have any ideas, shout it out. What about Oakland Hills? It's hosted six U.S. Opens, three PGA, it's got a ton of room, there have been fantastic tournaments that have been there, great winners, and outstanding finishes. Hogan's 67, Player's 68, 66, 66 Padraig Harrington. And a second question goes along with that, which is, why can't the USGA and PGA work out a deal where they can share some venues back and forth, because I know Oakland Hills is hosting PGAs and Ryder Cups now, but wouldn't it be nice to get Southern Hills and Oakland Hills back in the USGA mix and maybe get, you know, Baltusrol and Winged Foot back in the PGA mix. Is there any reason why you can't do that?
MIKE DAVIS: That's a great question. Oakland Hills has a rich, rich history with Championship golf. And certainly with USGA National Championships. We were last there in 2000 or 2002, I think it was, when Ricky Barnes won the National Amateur. And then prior to that in '96 with the U.S. Open.
I think the easy answer is we are still certainly looking at Oakland Hills, they have had interest, but I think to be very candid with you, we do try to spread our championships out a certain number of years, and I think because it recently had a PGA Championship we would tend to look at that saying whether it was a PGA Championship or a Ryder Cup or a U.S. Open, we like some spread in it, just to keep a number of years between championships.
So I think that's really the answer is that they have had a lot of events late and I think that we try to go to venue that is -- obviously this week's an exception, at Pebble Beach, but we do try to go to venues with the U.S. Open that don't have a big time event like that very often.
Then second question now I'm --

Q. With the PGA?
MIKE DAVIS: Oh, the PGA. Believe it or not, we work extremely closely with the PGA of America. In fact, contrary to what so many people think, we're not in a competition with the PGA of America over venues. And so much has been written over that, that, for instance, we just named Erin Hills, Wisconsin. I can tell you we were in direct contact with the PGA of America with respect to that, because they have got the 15 PGA Championships at Whistling Straits, and then the 2020 at Kohler, so it's no coincidence that we're in Wisconsin in '17, because we felt, and the PGA of America felt, that that was, timing-wise, about the best.
So I can tell you my counterpart there, Kerry Haigh and I talk quite often. So there really is not that competition that some write about. I think we all feel that there's a lot of venues out there, and it's probably best when we're not in the same area in the same year.
And another example, PGA of America several years ago came to us and said, we want to host our 100th PGA Championship in the greater New York City area because it was their anniversary, and they talked to us and said, is there any way you could kind of stay out of that area for a few years, and we said absolutely. So that's why you don't see the U.S. Open back there in that '14 to '17 time period.

Q. Wondering if you both might be able to just talk generally about how you felt the course held up today, and also particularly the greens. There were a couple players who were discussing a lot of bouncing putts and a lot of movement on the greens today.
TOM O'TOOLE: Well, I think between Mike and I, we couldn't be more pleased, really, with the final conclusions from today. It's a balancing act to try to keep these greens nourished from a water management standpoint, and then of course test the greatest players in the world with firmness.
As we told you here the other day, we are not going to let these greens get away from us. They weren't going to get over the top. And to do that then we had to do some corrective watering.
The greens here at Pebble Beach are poa annua. And when you have 156 players playing over two day, you're going to get bumpy greens. I can tell you that the cultural practices that Mike employed with Chris Dalhamer, their superintendent and our greens section staff, has generated many comments from players that this is the best they have ever seen the Pebble Beach greens putt. And Mike could speak specifically about some of those practices and how he prepared these greens to make them smoother than they have ever been for any other U.S. Open we have been here.
So while there may be some criticism from some players about the bumpiness of the greens that's a little bit of the nature of the beast to what have you here at Pebble Beach, but again I think that they have been as good as they have ever been for our national championship here.
MIKE DAVIS: And I can't really add a whole lot to that, to Tom, because by understanding what poa annua is, it's annual bluegrass and there are literally are, there may be hundreds of different strands of this or different types of mutations of this annual bluegrass out there and what happens is different strands grow at different rates.
So by late in the day, no matter what you do, you do get some bumpiness with that. Versus if it's just one mono strand of bent grass that's all growing at the same rate and thus you get -- same thing with Bermuda grass -- so you do tend to get with poa annua, which, again, it's a hundred different types of grass, later in the day you get that.
But as Tom said, this is absolutely the best I've ever seen Pebble Beach and one of the things that we did with this U.S. Open was raise the cut of height a little bit so we could roll more. And we really feel that that rolling has helped.
Now when you get later in the day, some of that roll goes away, you get some of that growth, thus you get some of that. But all in all, that's just kind of, you know, I think we were very, very happy with the course setup.
Obviously some of the comments that were made, that's -- I'm sure that Pebble Beach Company isn't overly happy about that, but we thought that the golf course played beautifully today. And we're very happy. If we can just try to duplicate that for another three days, it will be great.

Q. Mike, a couple of players came in and said that they thought these conditions were very fair, the wind was down, the greens were pretty receptive. Having said all that, are you surprised at all that the scoring didn't go even lower than 2-under?
MIKE DAVIS: I think two things surprised me today is that we got a little bit more wind than was forecasted. As Tom said, last night, just like we're going to do tonight, there will be water put on the greens, and this is what really gets hard, is that we're splitting hairs trying to figure out when the cloud cover goes and when you get that sun, how much wind you're going to get, what direction you're going to get wind, the temperature, and I actually felt once we went through setup, and I know Tom concurred with me, that actually the scoring conditions were going to be pretty good today, because I didn't think we were going to get this much wind.
And I thought this morning the greens were slightly softer and I say slightly, they were almost the same, but we had, as we have seen for the last four days, so Sunday the whole way up through Wednesday, but they put a little additional water on the greens this morning, just because they knew they were going to have these high skies and they found out this morning we were getting higher winds. So I actually did think the scoring would be ever so slightly lower. But, yeah, boy, this is hard when you get these kind of winds out here.

Q. You guys have done a really good job I think explaining the situation with the course and how it's been playing. So is it a fair, do you interpret it as a fair assessment or insult when Tiger calls the greens awful?
MIKE DAVIS: Honestly, the way I see it is that he just finished a competitive round, the last part of his round didn't go as well as he wanted it to go, and we all know that.
He's a great competitor. I really took it that he hit some putts and maybe they bounced and he wasn't obviously wasn't pleased about that, and I kind of just took it for what it's worth. It wasn't -- it certainly wasn't a personal assault against me or the setup or -- and I hope the Pebble Beach Company doesn't take it that way.
I just kind of read it that, hey, it got tough out there at the end, there were fast greens and they got a little bumpy at the end. And he is a competitor and he really did, I think, strike the ball well today and he just didn't score as well as he wanted. So that's kind of how I took it.
TOM O'TOOLE: I think to add to that I would say that if we thought we were misplaced or we erred or we neglected to do something that would have prepared the course better then we may have been more subjected to those remarks. But, again, I think the practices that were employed gave the best presentation they could, the players could possibly receive under the circumstances, and unfortunately when you have 156 players, you have to play in the morning one round and late in another, and Tiger drew the late round on the first day and that's what the course he was presented with.

Q. Mike, would you talk a little bit about the 14th green and in particular are there other pin placements there besides on the upper level left?
MIKE DAVIS: All four hole locations actually will be in that upper left quadrant. The right section just has too much percentage slope to it to use it. So all four will be up there. And you got some that are kind of closer to the bunker, you got some that are closer to that false front if you will on the right, and you've got some that are on the left side.
But having said that, it's such a small area, maybe, I don't know, 1,400 square feet up there, that there's not much variance. And, you know, you're going to see the same thing is true on the 8th green, where we can only put them really on that ridge in the middle.
Same thing with the 11th green on the ridge and the same thing on the 13th green down left. So, it's just the nature of Pebble Beach's greens. And that I can tell you that that's not unique for the U.S. Open. That's, I believe that's exactly what they do for the AT&T, even with the greens maybe a couple feet slower.

Q. Are they running faster than the AT&T and how much faster?
MIKE DAVIS: The green speeds this morning averaged about 13 and a half. Which is exactly what they have been averaging from Sunday on. So, and then what's been happening when you roll a green you tend to get a slow bounce back, if you will, where the grass starts to stand back up.
So probably by the end of the day, at least from the Stimpmeter readings, I haven't seen today's yet, but from the last four days, they end up being in the high 12s, so you get a little bit of it.
But I don't know what they run at the AT&T, but I if I had to guess I would say it was probably closer to 10, something like that. But I don't know. We could check with PGA TOUR officials, but so they're definitely faster. But it's a different, you're playing in the winter, you're getting southern winds, it's wetter, you got a lot of amateurs playing, so it's a different event.

Q. Did you think that No. 2 would play as difficult as it is and also why the decision to move up the tees on number 5 today?
MIKE DAVIS: Okay. On No. 2, I thought going into the week that that would play as one of the top three toughest holes on the course. So it wasn't a surprise.
I think the thing that -- actually I'm kind of pleased about it -- but I think what really made that hole difficult is when we took the fairway right into the bunkers in the drive zone. There were a fair number of drives, because that fairway cants left-to-right, that ended up in that right bunker that in the last U.S. Open would have ended up probably in the intermediate rough, which is, you know, I think all things being equal, an easier shot.
But that is a tough hole. It plays downwind, so it's long. And I got to tell you, we get asked this question, why did you change it from a par-5 to a par-4? The answer is simple to that. There used to be two giant Monterey pines that you had to kind of hit between. They were like almost like goal posts. In fact the left goal post, if you will, you almost had to go over or hook it around or hit a left-to-right shot.
And when they fell it just ended up in the summertime, big difference in the winter when the AT&T, a lot of times you have wind in your face there and it's wet, this time of the year it's playing downwind, to a firm fairway.
And if you look at it, it wasn't that the guys were hitting long shots, the longer irons and mid irons is just what seemed to be hit there. So it's a narrow little green, but we knew it would be one of the toughest.
Then with respect to the fifth hole, that was in the plans all along, we thought that changing it up a day and giving them a front teeing ground and then tucking the hole location right behind the bunker that fronts it, and then having the hole location also very close to the hazard on the right, was just neat. Because we knew it was going to be nine irons and wedges, but we also knew they had to have the perfect distance control with firm greens because again that hole would play downwind.
So we just thought there was some risk/reward and watching some shots there were a fair number of players even with a pitching wedge who decided to play short left and try to feed it that way. So I thought strategically it was kind of a neat play. And Tom did too.

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