The USGA is fielding complaints at the U.S. Open, and not only because the course at Pinehurst No. 2 is diabolically hard, as usual for this major. This time, it’s basically because he took some of the tournament’s fatter players, and put them in the same group.
The USGA has a long-standing tradition of grouping like-minded players. Old guys. Young guys. Winners of the same event. Residents of the same state. Even players whose names sound similar.
It’s a fun little custom. This week, though, a proverbial line might have been crossed.
Or as Stadler’s caddie, Shannon Wallis, calls ‘em: “The Heavyweights.”
Officially, they are listed respectively at 230, 225 and 250 pounds – more than one-third of a ton of golfers.
“When I saw it, I was pretty annoyed,” said Lowry, who points out that he’s lost about 18 pounds in the past six months. “I think it’s very cheeky of the USGA to do what they’ve done. I don’t think it’s fair to the three of us. It’s a mockery, to be honest.”
Jeff Hall, the organization’s managing director of rules and competitions, said the players’ girth had nothing to do with the pairing. “It certainly wasn’t the case that we were trying to do anything. But if you look at the three, they’re all pretty comparable as far as the world rankings,” he said. Stadler is ranked 59th, Lowry is 71st and de Jonge is 80th.
This has happened before. At the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Stadler was grouped with Tim Herron and Carl Petterson, who both could be classified as big-boned.
De Jonge, for his part, took this year’s grouping in stride.
“I was actually pretty amused by it,” he said. “I wasn’t offended at all.”