McDowell: ‘It’s not really a US Open’
Rory McIlroy isn’t the only golfer having his way with the Blue Course at the U.S. Open. See the 65s from Jason Day and Lee Westwood? And the 66s from Webb Simpson and Fredrik Jacobson? Count ’em: a record-setting 26 rounds under par on Saturday.
“I’ve been a little disappointed with the golf course the last couple of days. It wasn’t as firm and fast as I would like to have seen it,” said defending champion Graeme McDowell, whose red-number contribution was a 69 that put him at even par going into Sunday. “The greens are soaking wet, and so are the fairways. It’s target golf. It’s not really a U.S. Open.”
The previous record for subpar rounds in the third round of a U.S. Open was 24, set at Medinah in 1990. Congressional could produce scores like this back when the Kemper Open was played here and no one would blink, but it’s now supposed to be rigged up for the toughest test in golf.
“You can take advantage of it and go for more flags than you can in a U.S. Open,” said Jacobson, who birdied 10 of 15 holes with nary a bogey during a stretch that began late in the second round. “That’s why I think we’re seeing red numbers. It is what it is. If it rains a bit, you’ve got to try and make the most out of it.”
The U.S. Golf Association spent years planning for this weekend. All the greens were rebuilt. Tee boxes were moved back so far that they’re nearly bisecting other fairways.
But last week’s stifling temperatures and humidity sent the heat index into triple-digit territory, stunting the growth of the rough, wilting the fairways and greens and putting the USGA behind in its preparations. The rain finally started falling on Thursday after play was under way — literally a gift from the heavens for anyone who likes their golf in the 60s.
“I don’t think we’re going to try to trick Mother Nature,” said Tom O’Toole, chairman of the USGA’s championship committee. “This is what we’ve got in 2011. You come to the U.S. Open in the District of Columbia or Maryland in June, that’s the dice you roll. That’s what we got with a soft golf course. It’s not coastal California. It’s not Long Island, Shinnecock, where the course is built on sand. It’s a heavy soil golf course.
“It’s our position that the golf course was more forgiving this week because of the weather that we experienced,” O’Toole said. “Not because Congressional is not a worthy golf course for the U.S. Open. It’s a big, long, difficult golf course. These players caught it on a week when it’s very soft.”