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July 7, 2010
MODERATOR: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Rhonda Glenn. I'm with the USGA communications department. We'd like to welcome you to the annual press conference for the 2010 United States Women's Open Championship.
First please let me introduce Jim Hyler, who is the president of the United States Golf Association. Jim?
JIM HYLER: Rhonda, thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to all of you to our press conference for the Women's Open on a toasty July morning.
It's truly a pleasure for all of us, the executive committee, women's committee, the staff, to be back at Oakmont again to host a national championship.
Two weeks ago at Pebble Beach we crowned Graeme McDowell as the 110th U.S. Open champion. We look forward to later this week crowning the 65th U.S. Women's Open champion. We know we'll have an exciting week and weekend.
Over the years, the state of Pennsylvania has hosted more USGA championships than any other state in our country, a total of 79.
In these championships span a wide variety of championships. For example, in 2002 the Curtis Cup matches were at Fox Chapel here in Pittsburgh. We've had numerous other amateur and professional championships at places like obviously Oakmont, Marion's, Saucon Valley, Allegheny Golf Club, and many others.
We look forward to building on this history, as we really think it's important for us to be a part of the rich golf tradition here in Pennsylvania.
Of course, at Oakmont Country Club we have a really rich history. Oakmont has been the site of 17 majors and 14 USGA championships. You recall in 2007, Angel Cabrera held off Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk to win the 107th U.S. Open. And when you look back at the list of the past champions, U.S. Open champions here, you have names like Tommy Armour, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Larry Nelson, and Ernie Els. In fact, Bob Jones was one of the five people to win a U.S. amateur at Oakmont.
We announced we're coming back to Oakmont in 2016 for the U.S. Open, and we're obviously excited about that.
We'll also be back in Pennsylvania in 2015 for the Women's Open at Lancaster Country Club. The Women's Open has been held here at Oakmont previously in 1992, so this will be our second Women's Open here. And you recall there that Patty Sheehan sunk a putt on the 72nd hole to tie Juli Inkster, and then they had an 18-hole playoff.
U.S. Open Women's Open has become truly a world arena for women's golf. Only three of the first 41 champions were foreign-born, but foreign players have won 10 of the last 15 championships. This year's U.S. Women's Open will be televised around the world during all four rounds.
Special recognition to Carol Semple Thompson. I don't see her here. She is the general chairman of the Women's Open. Carol, of course, is from the Pittsburgh area. She has played in 31 Women's Opens, second most in history. In fact, she did play here in 1992.
A few words about the environment. As the national governing body for golf, we recognize the importance of working to go integrate environmental considerations into all aspects of our activities, including our championships. As this Open gets underway, you will see evidence of a commitment by a number of the parties involved to conduct this multifaceted event in an environmentally responsible manner.
From an active effort to encourage the use of public transportation to an on-site recycling program to guidelines for vendors that minimize waste, our shared objective is to continue to build a healthy relationship between the game and the environment.
Oakmont is a terrific partner for us in this regard. Just one quick example of what they've done on the golf course that is very environmentally friendly. A recent conversion of some 85 acres of golf course turf to nonirrigated fescue grasses combined with the installation several years ago of a new irrigation system has resulted in Oakmont today using some 40% less water than they were doing before they made the transition to the new system and the fescue.
We certainly applaud these efforts, and many of you know that they reflect our desire for golf courses everywhere to look closely at the way they use water with an aim of using less water.
Let me take a moment to express our gratitude to our partners here at Oakmont. It goes without saying that this is a special place with a special history in golf. They have a great staff and a great team to work with. Let me just call out several people. First of all, Bill Griffin is the president of Oakmont, and he is not here; Chris Donohue is the chairman of the greens committee back there; Tom Wallace, general manager; John Zimmers, golf course superintendent. Terrific job by all, and we certainly appreciate the great relationship we have with the team here.
Now let me introduce Barbara Douglas, and it's a pleasure to do so. Barbara is the chairman of the USGA women's committee. During her successful business career, Barbara began playing golf and qualified for the U.S. Women's Amateur publinks four times in the '80s. In '93 she was named to the U.S. women's committee, and she became chair in 2009.
Barbara's leadership has been integral to the organization and management of the 2010 Women's Open, and we're extremely appreciative for all she's done for this championship, for the USGA, and for the game of golf.
BARBARA DOUGLAS: Thank you, Jim. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I think Carol just walked in. Here she is. Our general chairman, Carol Semple Thompson. Jim mentioned her before. We're very please today have you with us today.
As Jim said, we're really thrilled to be back at Oakmont. It's such a wonderful site for the U.S. Women's Open. I think Patty Sheehan is going to be here this week. She'll probably spend some time going down memory lane. And as, you know, Juli Inkster is also in the field.
We've got four players who were here and competed in 1992. It's Julie Inkster, Pat Hurst, Sherri Steinhauer, and Paula Alfredsson.
We have a fifth player here this week who qualified for the field in 1992, Martha Nause. She was unable to tee it up on the first day, but she qualified. She's back here this year, and so 18 years later she's going to get a chance to tee it up at Oakmont. So I think that's a pretty neat story out there. We have 24 amateurs in the field this week, and we also have three brand new professionals making their debut in the field this week. Kimberly Kim, Alexis Thompson, and Jennifer Song. All three were members of the victorious Curtis Cup team, which just took place a few weeks ago.
So this year we've had record entries for the Women's Open, and this is the 7th year in a row where we've had record entries. We're very proud of that, as well.
Looking forward to future sites, we continue to conduct the U.S. Women's Open at some of the best courses in the country. The next four years we will be returning to some of the old venues we have been at and some new ones. Next year will be at the Broadmoor, the site of the 1995 Women's Open, and the site of Annika Sorenstam's first win, Women's Open win.
In 2012 we're at Blackwolf Run. You may remember that was the site of one of our historic playoffs between Se Ri Pak and Jenny Chuasiriporn with Se Ri winning.
In 2013, we have a new site, Sebonack Golf Club in Southhampton that Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak designed.
And then in '14, for the first time, both the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women's Open will be conducted back to back at Pinehurst No. 2. That, I think, will really be exciting.
Our 2010 championship season is off to a great start. As was mentioned before the Curtis Cup match was conducted at Essex County Club, the home of the Curtis sisters, with U.S.A. team winning 12 1/2 to 7 1/2 over the Great Britain and Ireland team.
The amateur publinks had the highest number of entries its had in the last five years, and 18 year old Emily Tubert from Burbank, California was the winner on Notre Dame's Warren Golf Course.
For the second year in a row, the U.S. girls' juniors had record entries. For the first time, we have over a thousand entries for that championship, which will be conducted at the Country Club of North Carolina.
We are also very excited to report that the Women's Amateur, U.S. Women's Open Amateur, had record entries, 1,049, which is the first time that championship had over a thousand entries. That championship will be conducted at the Charlotte Country Club August 9 through 15.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the Oakmont membership for their support having the Women's Open here this year. I also want to thank the many volunteers who we couldn't do this championship without.
We couldn't conduct this championship without the wonderful USGA staff that we have headed by Mike Davis. Mike has used his magic and his imagination to set this course up very similar to the 2007 U.S. Open, with a few little tweaks here and there.
So I think it's going to be really exciting for those of you who were here in 2007 to watch the women compete on a golf course that's similar to 2007.
So I hope you're ready for an exciting week here at Oakmont. I'm sure you'll have lots of wonderful stories to write as you watch the best golfers in the world compete on one of the most challenging golf courses for one of the most coveted and most competitive championships in the world, the U.S. Women's Open.
Please welcome Mike Davis.
MIKE DAVIS: Barbara, thank you. Welcome everyone. Both Jim Hyler and Barbara talked about Oakmont and how storied Oakmont is as a golf course, its history, and so on. You know, I will just echo that. I want to start off by making just a few comments more general in nature about Oakmont as a championship site.
As Jim mentioned, this is the 15th time we've been here for a national championship, and it is just -- it's truly one of the great championship sites in this country.
I think I feel -- I certainly can speak on behalf of the association. If Oakmont keeps inviting us for championships, we're going to keep coming. It's just that good a test. When Oakmont is dry -- and you know, every championship course is better when it's dry because you have to figure out what's going to happen when the ball actually lands and it's not going to -- it's going to move on you.
When Oakmont's dry, it's as good as any golf course as far as what the USGA is trying to do for a test of golf that I can think of. It's just so good and we had such a good experience in 2007. I mean, I really feel we're positioned to have just a great, great test of golf the next four days.
I guess with respect to where we are right now, I can tell you the golf course is darn near perfect. It's been -- in fact, it is perfect. It's been that way for about the last five days we've been here. We literally could have started this had championship five days ago, which candidly is very unusual.
We typically get the golf course, if we're lucky on Monday of the championship, to the condition it's going to be for Thursday. But truly, we had it the latter part of last week. It's just been a case of trying to hold it as is, which I think anybody that understand agronomics knows that's a very difficult job. I know Jim Hyler already recognized some of the people with Oakmont, but I want to recognize again John Zimmers. John is in the back. John, raise your hand there in case anyone wants to talk to John.
John was here for '07, was actually here for our 2003 Amateur, as well. He's as good as anybody in the business, and is wonderful to work with. One of the reasons we have such great championships here is because of not only the design of the golf course, but John gets it right in terms of how it plays.
I mean, I'm so excited. For me, every championship site has its things that you get very excited about, but for some reason when you walk on Oakmont, it just has a mystique to it that -- I mean, I am truly giddy the whole week that I'm here. It's just so good.
I guess that with that in mind, you know, Oakmont is very unique. I guess that's one of the things -- and I use the word "unique" in the most positive sense of the word. It starts out with its greens. We all know, you know, going back to, you know, when Oakmont was first built back in, you know, was it 1903 or 1905, something like that, it's always had fast greens. It's legendary for that.
You couple that with the fact they're very undulation, and it just makes for great golf. For me, I think the these may be the most fascinating set of greens to set up. I think that from the player's standpoint, they not only have to have wonderful touch but they also have to have wonderful imagination. You really have to think around this golf course.
I think when Oakmont is dry, that's what makes it so great. The last three days, including today, you hope that the players really studied this golf course, because I think that this requires more study in terms of local knowledge than any championship site we play.
You've got to think about what's going to happen, not only when your ball lands but where do you want to miss it. That's true literally on every one of these greens. Not only in the drive zones, but you have to think about if you miss a particular green, where do you want to miss it. If you're on the green, you want to be below the hole.
Sometimes it goes against your instincts. For instance, the 1st green, the 10th green, the 12th green, they all fall away from you. Unusual. You don't see that very often in golf. But in all three cases, you can land the ball short, roll it on.
So you instinctively say, Okay, I'm going to play short and then let it roll on, which is the proper shot. But if you leave it short, you've absolutely short-sighted yourself, and you really can bring 6 into play or double bogey into play with respect to the 12th hole, par-5.
So it really starts with the greens, and I'm going to talk a little bit about some of the course setup specs. But beyond that, another very unique thing about Oakmont are the bunkers. If you think about it, there are very courses in the United States, particularly in the drive zones, bunkers that are truly hazards. I mean, these bunkers, it's very unusual whether it's LPGA Tour players or PGA TOUR players that they can advance the ball to the green.
These are very much like what you see over in the British Aisles when they play the British Open, that you really do need to avoid these drive zone bunkers because it's a half stroke to maybe three quarters of a stroke penalty.
That's part of Oakmont. It's always been that way, back when Henry Fownes built the course, you know, at the turn of the last century. There's a lot of slope. You just look out at this treeless property, and you realize how much slope there is to Oakmont. That's part of it, too. You've got to figure out what's going to happen when your ball lands.
Another thing, there is a lot of semiblind shots at Oakmont. Again, you don't see that in a lot of modern courses or even a lot of the old so-called golden age of architectural classical courses that we play our championships on. There's a lot to Oakmont that's very unique, but it's all a very good unique.
Barbara mentioned it before, but we came into this championship with the mindset of saying, Listen, we're going to have the women play three years after the men. Let's try to see how the women play Oakmont and virtually try to set it up in the same manner.
So with that in mind, that's essentially what you see out there this week. First, I mean, obviously there's got to be some differences in the setup just because the women play the game slightly different than the men.
The first thing would be the distance of the course. Well, this week we're at 6,613 yards from the tee signs versus for the Men's Open we are at, I think, 7,230. So roughly a 600 yard difference. But we didn't have, you know, a set target for total length in mind for the men or the women. You just set each hole up for what it is, and then you try to get it to play the way you think it's best.
That's just kind of how we arrived at these total yardages. We really do believe that the length is going to be very similar from men to women in terms of how each hole is going to play.
Another thing that is slightly different from 2007 would be the firmness of the greens. But relatively speaking, that firmness is going to be the same. We want a well-struck shot from the fairways. If it's a mid-iron, say, crisply hit from the fairways, like a 6-iron, we want to see a bounce, bounce, then it starts to grab.
If it's 9-iron, maybe a bounce and grab. Something longer than 6-iron, then maybe it's a bounce, bounce, bounce, and maybe it doesn't even start to grab. Maybe it's more of a roll. That is the idea.
And to that extent, we go to painstaking lengths to really analyze where we are with the firmness every single day. We take firmness readings three times a day, every green, nine different quadrants in each green. That information gets -- you know, I guess we give that information to not only John Zimmers, but the guys doing the hand watering. So if we're lucky enough to have a dry Oakmont where we get to control the firmness, you're going to see the conditions for the women very much like the men where it's championship.
One of the things that we're already seeing in the last couple days that were just elated about, is that when we get the right firmness, you see that kind of reaction when a ball hits a green. But when they're coming out of the light rough, what you're seeing is it's virtually impossible to stop a ball that flies to the green to stop it on the green. Now, maybe if it comes out with a wedge or something, might be different.
But that's one of the things we're trying to do with the rough, and certainly these knew grooves play into that to some extent. So, you know, Oakmont is a great course in that when it's firm, you can bounce the ball on a lot of these holes. Maybe not every one, but a lot of these holes you can land it short and bounce it on, which really kind of brings back shot-making.
Of you hit it in the rough, you're gonna have to figure out a way to get it on the green. These approaches are firm enough where they can absolutely do that. When they're in the rough, you're seeing them take less club out for the yardage they would hit if they were in the fairways. So we're pleased about that.
Another thing is speed of the greens. We talk about trying to essentially replicate 2007, but we're basically there. I would say, generally speaking, these greens this week are roughly one-foot difference in speed. They're on the slower side. You might say, Well, why are you slower? The answer is, is because we're having to put a little bit more water on the greens to get the firmness right. Because of that, they aren't quite as crusty. Because of that, they're not quite the same speed.
There is a lot of humidity in the air that wasn't here in 2007. But speed-wise, we are in the high 13s right now to low 14s. U.S. Open we are basically one foot faster than that. We got into the low 15s, believe it or not, at the last U.S. Open, or high 14s. That is lightning fast, particularly when you get these undulations. But it works at Oakmont.
The way these greens are designed, that's what makes it such a neat thing. You can use these different slopes to get your ball to different quadrants of the green. Our hole locations are based on that. We essentially put hole locations where you can feed a ball to. You can use a slope.
You know, this may sound elementary, but when we do hole locations here at those kinds of speeds, one of the things we do is where does the ball stop? And where the ball stopped, that tends to be where you're going to see hole locations. I mean, I know that sounds simple, but that's part of the process.
Last thing that is slightly different this go-around than 2007 would be the rough. We have graduated it again, but obviously with the women not being quite as strong and not having the club head speed of men, the rough is less. But I would even go a step further to say that in 2007, and that was back when Jim Hyler was chairman of the championship committee, one of the things that the two of us felt after the Open is that in hindsight, we wish the rough had been a little less severe, a little less penal. Because of these wonderful, you know, speedy and undulating greens, you just don't need as much rough.
I think we came into this Women's Open and said, Listen, let's have the rough a little bit less severe for the women. I personally think we nailed it. I think that rough is perfect this week for the speed and firmness of these greens. That first, the closer-in rough, most times you're going to see the player be able to advance the ball to the green.
It's just a question of can she get it there and can she figure out how that ball is going to come out and how short of the green do you need to land?
So in that vein of trying to replicate it, we did, you know, setting up each hole -- as an example, we came to Oakmont early on and said, you know, two of the things or two of the holes we really liked how they played for the Open were the 2nd hole and the 17th hole, the two short, what ended up being some days drivable par-4s, but the club didn't have teeing grounds short enough for that.
So the club was gracious enough to say, Okay, we'll put in some 4 teeing grounds. And our hopes this week would be that those two holes play much like they did in 2007.
In 2007 we didn't see near as many players trying to knock it on the second green, and we expect it this week. That will play a little bit longer, but still we're going to dangle that carrot out there certain days. And same thing with 17. It was such a wonderful risk-reward hole in 2007. And what makes 17, and for that matter, 2, neat holes in that regard, is that when we set it up, I think the architecture and the setup allowed us to set those holes up where, if you did try to be aggressive and you executed the proper shot, you actually could pull it off.
So we saw some eagles back in '07 on those holes, certainly saw some birdies, but what it also did is if you were aggressive, you probably and you didn't execute properly, you probably were going to make a higher score than you would have made if you'd laid up and played it conservatively. That's kind of the hopes.
Then certainly there's other holes where we mixed up teeing grounds and matched them with certain hole locations that we're going to try that for the women. I mean, the 12th is a pretty good example where that is, in my mind, maybe the hardest par-5 in championship golf, at least as far as Opens go. I mean, I guess you could argue 14 at Pebble this year wasn't so easy, but we're going to try to mixup teeing grounds for the women and have that play very different each day than the way it did.
In that regard, we're excited about it. The hole locations are basically the same. We've modified some here and there just for the way men play versus women play. But for the most part, these hole locations are the same as what we had in 2007.
So to kind of finish up here, concerns for the week, No. 1, would be weather. I think we do have a front that is going to come through we think sometime late Friday, so -- and I say that, and obviously there is always the issue with we don't want to see suspension of play because it just puts us back. But probably more importantly selfishly speaking, if we get a lot of rain, it changes how Oakmont plays.
It's so good right now, if we can just keep it dry and let us supply the water versus mother nature, it will make for an exciting championship.
Second concern, I will be very honest with you, is pace of play. I think there is no doubt that Oakmont Country Club, at least in my time with the USGA, will be the hardest Women's Open venue that these players have seen. And, you know, with respect to that, when it's dry, it's probably the hardest venue for the men, as well.
We can't come here and not have a very difficult venue, but that certainly makes the pace longer. I think when we compare our U.S. Open with our Women's Open, with our Senior Open, we tend to see the pace of play longer at the Women's Open, or it takes more time. I think the reason for that is the caddies on this particular tour just become more engaged in every shot than what you see on, you know, the other tours.
So I know our timing rovers will be wearing out their stop watches this week. And I guess, you know, we always get the question, What's the winning score going to be? I have no idea. If you could tell me what the weather's going to be, I could probably come pretty close. But if we get rain, it's gonna make it easier; if it stays nice and dry, it will certainly be harder.
With that, I will close it up and say again how fortunate we are to be here at Oakmont. It's truly one of the storied courses in our so-called rota, and it's truly a kind of a national golf treasure. With that, I guess I'll turn back for questions.
Rhonda, if you want to come up. Thanks.
MODERATOR: Sure. Thanks very much, Mike and Barbara and Jim. We'll open the floor to questions now. If you have any about this championship, about the golf course, about the field, please direct them and we'll let you talk to some of the USGA people.
Q. This is for Mike. Mike, you mentioned 12. There is about five different tees there. How many will you use? There's such great variance there. Are there any other holes, maybe 1 or 10, where you can move it back on some days quite a bit?
MIKE DAVIS: On 12, yeah, our plan would be -- depending on what happens with rain or no rain, there are two teeing grounds forward of where the teeing ground we're using for the tee sign. It's not just a distance thing, but if you look at that 12th hole, the teeing ground we're at with the tee sign very much brings that cross bunker into play, and then the bunker on the left, the run-out bunker if you will. So that's a drive zone for there.
But when you go to the two next ones, because it's really a question of you've got to hit a solid drive to carry that cross bunker. That's why we ended up setting tee signs there. But if you go to the up tees, most of the players can carry that, and it puts a different drive zone into play. In fact, if you study that hole, there's much more slant, left to right slant, in the fairways there.
The plan is -- and we did that in '07 where we moved up and it allows players to go for the green in two. And I know that that back tee it says 602 yards, and I think we get up to 532 yards for the up tee, which is still a long way. But the whole place straight downhill, it's nice and firm right now. I think based on that we will go up some, and it certainly brings those different bunkers and the ditch down in the third shot area, a much different feature. You really just change the hole up completely there.
And with respect to other holes, you won't see us going behind where tee signs are. Generally speaking, we put the tee signs, and we're kind of telling the players, Listen, that's as far back as we're going to go. But, you know, anything in front of those tee signs is a possibility. They were actually notified of that in their player memo. I think you'll see quite a few holes where we mix things up.
Q. This is a question for Mike, also. In 2007 when Anthony Kim shot an 83 in the third round or Aaron Baddeley in '80 in the 4th round, people talked about, Well, that's Oakmont; it's such a brutal course. Some of the players here are worried that if it's as challenging for women and if some of the scores soar, that that faction, there will always be that faction of people that will denigrate the women's? Game and say, See, these women just can't play these courses. Was that a concern, and how do you address that?
MIKE DAVIS: Well, another good question. We had those kind of questions I can remember three years ago with players in practice rounds, and we had a lot of questions -- a lot of comments saying, If they get this course any harder, no one's going to break 75.
You know, some of the players that maybe don't play championship golf on a regular basis, you may see scores up in the 90s. My sense is this golf course is very much the same right now as it was in 2007. You know, we talked about the differences. So will you see some high scores? Yes. But this is the absolute hardest golf course that we have chosen for a Women's Open Championship, just like I said it was for the men's championship.
So will you see some higher scores? Absolutely. But I also think that when we set up a golf course up, what we're trying to do is identify a national champion. We're really focused on not kind of the bottom of the field -- and let me just say we have to be focused on the bottom of the field with respect to forced carries and things like that.
But with respect to the setup of the course, we are very much focused on -- I don't know how to say it -- maybe the top half of the field and saying we're trying to identify the best player, all things considered, this week.
So that's -- so if we see a few high scores, I think you just chalk it up to the U.S. Open is supposed to be the toughest test in golf. Oakmont is truly one of the toughest tests in this country. I think you put those two things together and it's a recipe for some players who aren't on their games shooting a high score.
Q. Will you set this golf course up easier some days than others, or will you try to hit a standard of each of the four rounds?
MIKE DAVIS: I would say it's pretty balanced. But, you know, in honesty, we do kind of work Sunday backwards when we think about certain hole locations and we think about certain teeing grounds. You know, you think back to Sunday in 2007, there were certain things that we did to really try to give the players some options on certain holes.
Because, you know, options, just because you move tees up, it doesn't mean the holes get any easier. In fact, sometimes you give them options, and you can make an argument it makes it harder because they actually have to think. It's not -- it's not playing the hole the same way seven days in a row.
I think that we have tried to do the exact same thing in our planning for this week. But that said, I mean, we're very mindful of the potential weather we may get. And as an example, the 8th hole, the long par-3. The idea this week is we wanted to replicate what we saw last go-around. As you'll recall three years ago, there was all kinds of talk about, Has the USGA lost their mind playing a par-3 288 yards from the back?
What they didn't realize was that was one of the biggest and flattest greens. You can land the ball up to 38 yards short of the green and bounce it on. It cants towards the green. We're trying to do the same thing this week in saying if that approach it firm, we're going to play this hole back at 252 yards.
If you look at the stats on the LPGA Tour, there are some players that can't even hit their drive that long. But you don't have to on that hole, because you land short and it kicks towards the green. But we will change things up if all of a sudden we get rain on that hole and that approach gets soft. Then you'll see us move up to the 225 tee. We really have, I think, balanced things out for the days, and, you know, mixed and matched. I think it should be a pretty even test.
Q. With lower ball rates and spin rates, do the new grooves affect women any differently than they affect the men?
MIKE DAVIS: I mean, our studies have shown that they don't -- I mean, the lower club head speed, the less effect it has.
So the players, I mean, I would think that a Michelle Wie or a Suzann Pettersen would be more affected than, say, some of the players who aren't quite as long. But it's affecting everybody. I mean, even players with lesser club head speeds are affected, but not quite as much.
Q. A couple days ago you said that you like 17 for a lot of reasons, one of which is the fact where it's at right before 18 on this course. I asked Cristie Kerr about that, about 17 and 18, and she said, Don't forget about 16 also. She thought it was three great finishing holes, 16, 17, 18. 16 is a par-3 and you have a lot of options there where you can set up that tee box. Just your thoughts on adding 16 to this mix of three great holes ending the round.
MIKE DAVIS: I think Cristie is right. When we think back to 1983 and Larry Nelson, what do you think about? You think about that putt he made. Knocked it in from the front left of the green to that hole location in the back right. We still see highlights of that. So I think she's spot-on.
That is a very, very difficult par-3. In some ways, that could end up playing a little tougher for the women this week than the men. Because if you look at the teeing grounds, the options for it, I think the women are probably going to have to hit from at least the back teeing ground a little more club into that green than the men.
So we're mindful of the firmness of that green, because it's kind of a turtle-back green. But we're probably also going to use probably one day the up, the front left teeing ground, which is substantially easier teeing ground. Both in the length - it's only 135 yards to the middle - but also the angle of the play. Instead of the green sitting at a kind of a diagonal, you're playing straight in.
So Cristie is right. That's one of the reasons we ended up maybe going to use that upper tee, up left tee one day just to kind of balance things out. It's a great finish. A tough par-3, a risk-reward, you know, short par-4, and then one of the toughest closing holes in golf with this 18th hole right behind us.
Q. What will 2 and 17 play from the up tees?
MIKE DAVIS: 2, it's roughly 250, and that's from the center of that new teeing ground to the center of the green. And that is uphill, so you can probably add a good 15 yards in terms of - maybe even 20 - on how it plays. I think we tried to use that teeing ground in combination with a hole location that would perhaps entice them a little bit.
I say that if they decided to play that conservatively, it's going to be a hole location that's going to be very hard, even with a wedge shot in.
And then 17, we have a tee sign at 260. That hole plays uphill. That's not a true 262, because dogleg left. So in terms of going straight at the green it's slightly less. But that too is uphill.
Then we have a new teeing in front of that that's 235 yards to the middle. So you will see us use both those teeing grounds depending on the hole location.
Q. In terms of changing the course, I think last year at Saucon Valley, didn't you go really, really short the last day? I can't remember the reason why. Might we see anything similar to that?
MIKE DAVIS: You're correct. Last year the 17th hole, which is a downhill par-3, we ended up playing that -- I think it was 106 yards, somewhere in that territory. It's a downhill hole, but it was a hole location in the back of the green that truly was about two-and-a-half paces off the side, which you'd never -- you know, if you have a wedge in it's fine to use a hole location like that.
But just the contours of the green, we felt that that was really a neat risk-reward hole. They didn't have to go at that hole, but they left themselves a tough two-putt if they were conservative. If they went for it and they didn't execute, then they missed a green and it was an impossible 3.
Here at Oakmont you basically can do what the architecture allows you to do. But I think, again, if you were a player this week, one of the things that you might have done that could help you is go back and look at the tapes of 2007 and say, What did the USGA do? You might get an idea of some of the things you'd see.
As we said all along, we liked -- Jim and I talked about it a long time -- is we overall liked how it played in 2007. You always look back at every championship and say, Jeez, if I had to do it over again there's a few things I'd change.
Q. First of all, what is the pace of play number?
MIKE DAVIS: I should have come with that. I believe it's four hours and 34 minutes for a group of three, and then it's three hours and 58 minutes for groups of two for rounds 3 and 4.
And remember, those are numbers -- everybody needs to keep this in mind -- for the lead groups. Everybody after that, because even though we play in 11-minute intervals, if you do your math, there is no way to play a hole in 11 minutes. It just doesn't mathematically work.
So those pace-of-play numbers are put out there of saying, We feel it's reasonable for a group of three to be able to play this course in four hours -- let's say it's 34 minutes. If it's not 34, it's 35, 36, something like that.
So then we want everybody behind those lead groups to just stay in position. That's what we're going to try to do. But understanding that you can't get everybody -- it's mathematically impossible, at least rounds 1 and 2 -- to play in that number. All we try to do is keep everybody in position.
Versus when we get to rounds 3 and 4, it is mathematically possible to have everybody play in that time. And if you look back on it, most of the time in rounds 3 and 4 we play pretty close to that play schedule. When we get together with NBC and say, this is when we want the last group to tee off, we're usually factoring anywhere from 3 hours and 55 minutes to maybe 4 hours and 5 minutes for that last group to play.
But rounds 1 and 2 are going to be tough here. We know it. The greens are tough. We're going to try to do everything we can, but...
Q. The other thing is I know that you say that you don't try to produce a certain score, but assuming you retain control of the course, if scores would prove to be unusually high or unusually low, would you adjust your setup plan?
MIKE DAVIS: Yeah, that's a big assumption of saying we do keep control of the course. But assuming we do that, um, not so much. I mean, if we saw -- for instance, if you saw the best score being several over par, I think what you'd end up saying is that the golf course that particular day played too difficult.
Why would you say that? I don't think you'd ever say because of the speed of the greens. You'd say the greens got too firm or the rough was too penal or it got extremely windy on us. Those are the kind of things -- and then we say, Okay what things can we control, what things can't we control?
Tomorrow if we see balls starting to hit these greens, well-struck balls, and literally bouncing in the front third and bouncing the whole way over, we'd say, Oh, wait a minute. We need more water on these greens for Round 2. Those are the kinds of things.
But if we're happy with the way the course is playing and the scores are higher or lower than we thought, we're not going to change things.
Q. With pace of play already being a concern, how aggressive will enforcement be of warnings translating into penalties?
MIKE DAVIS: Well, I think everybody heard the question. I will tell you that we are not afraid of penalties. I mean, if you look back at our amateur competitions, I mean, I think we've given -- I mean, I work the U.S. Amateur every year. I bet you in the last four years we've had 50 penalty strokes. It's not as if we're afraid to give penalties.
It's a different pace of play policy at the three Opens. We really kind of follow what the tours, the professional tours use. In that regard, the way the pace of play policy is is you get a warning and you need to get back in position. You get a warning, individual warning, if your group gets put on the clock and then thereafter you personally take too much time on a single shot.
What we continually see is when a group gets put on the clock, either they catch up, which is exactly what we're trying -- we're not fixated on giving penalties. What we just want to do is keep everybody in position.
But if somebody does get a warning and then they get a second bad time, they absolutely will be given a penalty. It's just when they get that first warning they're so mindful of not getting another bad time that, believe me, they really speed up.
Anyway. But they get put on a clock, and believe me it does help.
MODERATOR: We'll have one more question.
Q. What's the status of a Women's Open at Pebble, and are there any other recognizables as far as consistent Men's Open venues that you're looking at for Women's Opens?
JIM HYLER: Of course, when we were at Pebble we announced '18 amateur and '19 Open there to coincide with their 100th anniversary. Pebble is very interested in having a Women's Open, and we will continue to talk to them about that, but it will have to be after 2019.
I think we both felt that the opportunity to partner with them in the 100th anniversary was something that was the right thing to do for the Open going back. So it's something that's still on both radar screens, and we hope to do it after '19.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Juli Inkster will be next, and that's at 12:30.
End of FastScripts