U.S. Open Notebook
Course Conditions Draw Players' Ire
By Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 21, 2004; Page D11
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y., June 20 -- Billy Mayfair had to laugh as he made his way around the front nine Sunday morning at the U.S. Open. He went out bogey, triple bogey, par and then back-to-back doubles over his first five holes, and by the time he made the turn, he was in danger of not breaking 90.
Mayfair's collapse came on the heels of consecutive even-par 70s to open the tournament, illustrating the conditions Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, where the USGA made sure the final round would yield precious few birdies. No player was under par in the final round.
Mayfair, who did his best Chi Chi Rodriguez imitation after a bogey at No. 7, fell considerably out of humor upon completing his round. A curt "No, thanks" was all he offered when asked to comment about his 19-over 89, which followed an 81 in the third round.
The conditions became so penal that the USGA decided to hose down the No. 7 green after the first two groups finished the diabolical par 3. The USGA issued a statement soon after saying it was in the process of "lightly syringing" all the other greens on the course.
"My point is if they have to water it during competition, then they've gone overboard," said Mayfair's playing partner, Cliff Kresge, who shot 45 on the front. "They should have known with all the wind they had last night the greens were going to be hard and fast. Everybody was talking about how hard the greens were when I walked in. I mean, you could bounce the ball up in your hand."
Other players found the going similarly unpleasant. Jerry Kelly, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour in 2002, carded an 8 on the par-4 fourth, then followed with bogey 6, double-bogey 6. Defending U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk made double-bogey 6, bogey 4 and a double-bogey 5 over his first four holes. And Sweden's Joakim Haeggman had the dishonor of quintuple 9 at No. 10.
"Do you guys enjoy watching us look like a bunch of idiots?" Kresge said. "It's no fun to hit a ball and watch it come back to your feet. I don't know how much people enjoy that. Some people get a kick out of us hacking it around and shooting high scores, but that's the only way that the USGA can protect pars and make it almost silly."
Father's Day Fun
Bill Haas celebrated Father's Day in a way many sons wish they could. He played golf with his dad.
Though not in the same group, Jay Haas finished his final round early enough to catch Bill's final few holes. It was the first time a father and son made it into the weekend of a U.S. Open, and though neither was in contention for the championship, both said it hardly made a difference.
"It's just been an unbelievable treat," said Jay, who shot a final-round 71.
"It's great, man. It's impressive. It doesn't amaze me anymore," Bill said of his dad. "The last two years just made me realize he can do anything and still play with all these guys."
Other players who celebrated with their dads nearby included Kevin Stadler, whose father Craig arrived late Friday after his son made the cut, and amateur Spencer Levin, whose father Don is his caddie and coach.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company