DEUCE IS WILDER
The old saw at Augusta is that the Masters begins on the back
nine on Sunday. This week's Open could end on the front side on
The last two times the Tour visited Pinehurst No. 2, for the
1991 and '92 Tour Championships, the first nine proved far more
beastly than the second. In '91 the five toughest holes were on
the front, and two of the three easiest were on the back.
Numbers 5, 2 and 8, in that order, were the most difficult in
'91. Those three holes were again the toughest in '92. When the
Seniors came to Pinehurst for their Open in '94, four of the
five holes that beat them up the worst were on the front nine,
with the 5th again leading the way.
Noting all this, the USGA has gone to great lengths, literally,
to beef up the back side. Most obvious are the changes to the
16th, which in '91 and '92 was a 531-yard cupcake of a par-5,
the easiest hole on the course both times. Now a 489-yard par-4,
16 is sweet no longer. Also, the 10th hole has gone from 578 to
610 yards, making it the ninth longest par-5 on Tour this year,
and the par-4 12th has been stretched from 415 yards to 447.
June 20, 1999
Not that the USGA was content to stop there. The entire course
has been extended from 7,020 yards to 7,175. Not even the
treacherous 5th, with its blind tee shot and sloped green, was
spared. The USGA changed it from a 445-yard gorilla into a
482-yard King Kong.
The changes have surely made a tough course tougher, but have
they made a great course greater? As players struggle to hold
No. 2's overturned saucers with 210-yard approach shots, they
may recall something Mark O'Meara said in 1991: No. 2's
demanding layout fit the Open mold so well, O'Meara remarked,
that the USGA could hold the tournament there and "not change a
thing." But that's not the USGA's way. --Gene Menez
HOLE PAR '92 SCORE '92 RANK '92 YDS. '99 YDS.
1 4 +.075 9 396 404
2 4 +.192 3 441 447
3 4 -.133 16 335 335
4 5 -.300 17 547 566
5 4 +.375 1 445 482
6 3 +.167 5 212 222
7 4 -.033 13 401 398
8 4 +.217 2 487 485
9 3 -.050 14 166 179
10 5 -.083 15 578 610
11 4 +.175 4 433 453
12 4 .000 11 415 447
13 4 +.025 10 374 383
14 4 +.117 8 436 436
15 3 +.158 6 201 202
16 4* -.592 18 531 489
17 3 -.017 12 190 191
18 4 +.158 6 432 446
TOTAL 70 +.450 7,020 7,175
* Played as a par-5 in 1992
Casey Martin's Close Call
LONG SLIDE ENDS WITH NEAR WIN
Until last week the news on Casey Martin in '99 was what he
hadn't done. He hadn't played well, missing more cuts (six) than
he had made (five); hadn't resolved his rift with the PGA Tour,
which on May 4 began its appeal of the 1998 court decision that
allowed Martin to use a cart in competition; and hadn't
qualified for the U.S. Open, faltering on June 7 at Sand Ridge
Golf Club in Chardon, Ohio.
Last week, Martin was at the Nike Cleveland Open, where for the
first time since last August he was in contention to win--until
Matt Gogel eagled the second hole of a playoff to beat him.
Afterward, Martin wondered aloud whether he might have prevented
his recent slump. After winning the Nike Lakeland Classic in
January '98 and his lawsuit the next month, and placing 23rd at
the Open, he took exemptions to the Greater Hartford Open
(missed cut) and the Quad City Classic (66th). While on the PGA
Tour he missed four Nike events and fell from 10th to 18th in
earnings. When Martin missed his first two cuts back on the
Nike, he was on his way to finishing 29th on the money list,
well shy of the top 15 and entry to the PGA Tour.
"I've thought about that an awful lot," Martin says. "I'm sure
those weeks away hurt my chances [on the Nike]."
Now 19th in earnings, Martin will play in the next five Nike
events. If offered exemptions to the Tour, he'll decline. "I got
my taste of it," he says. "It's time to get my work done out
By taking the last 10 U.S. Open winners and averaging their
ages, wins on Tour and positions on the money list entering the
tournament, we came up with a profile of an Open champ.
Defending champ Lee Janzen is the closest match. He's 34, has
eight wins and came to Pinehurst ranked 44th in earnings.
AGE WINS MONEY
Lee Janzen 33 7 43
Ernie Els 27 3 54
Steve Jones 37 4 53
Corey Pavin 35 12 11
Ernie Els 24 0 50
Lee Janzen 28 2 7
Tom Kite 42 16 8
Payne Stewart 34 7 67
Hale Irwin 45 17 49
Curtis Strange 34 16 13
AVERAGE 33.9 8.4 35.5
What do these players have in common?
They share the record for the lowest round in the U.S. Open.
Miller shot 63 at Oakmont in '73. Nicklaus and Weiskopf matched
that at Baltusrol in '80.
Will Tiger Woods win the U.S. Open?
--Based on 1,486 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Does the focus on the short game make the '99
Open more entertaining than others? Vote at www.cnnsi.com/golf.
Dustin Bray, Asheboro, N.C.
Miriam Nagl, Berlin
Dustin, a junior who shot a North Carolina high-school-record 66
in the final round to take the state's 3A championship, won the
Scott Robertson Memorial at Roanoke (Va.) Country Club by making
a 25-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff to beat
Hunter Mahan, of McKinney, Texas. Nagl, who will be a freshman
at Arizona State in the fall, won the Robertson girls' division
by 10 strokes with a final-round 65. Born in Brazil and raised
in Berlin, Nagl, a graduate of the David Leadbetter Academy,
will represent Germany in the European women's team
championships in Paris next month.
Jim Sobb, Lake Barrington, Ill.
Sobb, 43, the head pro at Ivanhoe Country Club, won his second
Illinois PGA section title with a three-over 219 at Kemper Lakes
Golf Club. Sobb, who has played in six PGA Championships and six
other Tour events, earned a spot in July's Western Open and a
year lease on a Mercedes with the victory.