Anyone hoping for rain today to soften the course were instead met with relentlessly cloudless skies, plus more heat and humidity. Some players reported that the middle of the fairways were speeding up, making the course play much shorter than its 7,565 yards, but increasing the chances of the ball running off the short grass and into the waste areas.
Today, our Tour Staff pros displayed the specially made panels we had made for the front of their bags, not with their name on it, but either the names of their children or the name of their father, in celebration of Father’s Day this coming Sunday. Justin Rose, Jason Day, D.A. Points, Robert Allenby and Sergio Garcia are among the players who will have one of these special panels this week; watch for them on TV.
Defending champ Rose was out bright and early and Rose’s missed cut at The Memorial allowed him to get here Saturday which, in his words, could be a blessing, giving him two extra days to practice. He didn’t play in the 1999 U.S. Open, so this is his first time competing at Pinehurst, and he made comparisons to another architectural masterpiece: “It’s a little bit like Augusta in that sense in that you’re playing to zones, rather than just going at the pins or trying to hit greens. So precision iron play is important and being able to control the ball once it lands is important.” Sounds like his Tour Preferred irons with the Speed Pocket, designed to launch the ball high, long and land it soft, will be an advantage.
Speaking of ball control, that’s historically been the name of the game at the U.S. Open, and will be here at Pinehurst too. However, according to the architects who made the many changes to the course. Said one: “You will see a different type of play than what’s commonplace at the United States Open. When the players miss the fairways, I think you’ll see some lies where they just will proceed a short distance down the fairway, but I think you’re going to see a lot of them where there’s going to be an enticement to try to have a go at the green. Something you don’t see so much normally at this championship. So we’re hopeful that it’s going to be exciting. I think you will see some of the most spectacular approach shots that you could imagine; certainly at a United States Open championship. And you’ll probably see some of the most bizarre.”