The United States Golf Associations Mike Davis said the problems at the past two US Opens affects our whole organisation
Those in positions of authority may be soft targets for vociferous abuse but nobody has matched the United States Golf Associations fuelling of such fires.
The regulations farce that overshadowed Dustin Johnsons maiden major win, at last years US Open at Oakmont, would have been damaging enough for the USGA had it arrived in isolation. Twelve months earlier, the worlds best players had erupted in ferocity regarding the dreadful condition of greens at Chambers Bay.
Golfs governing body in the US was embroiled in farther chaos in April, a womens major having descended into comedy after a ruling based on contact from a television viewer; 24 hours earlier. And there is more; at the conclusion of the US Womens Open of 2016 the USGAs president, Diana Murphy, continued a propensity for erratic speech-making by continually calling the winner by the wrong name. Pieced together, this is like professional athletic gratifies Eldorado.
In their traditional, eve of tournament address at the US Open, the USGAs leading lights were not 100% convincing over whether a repeat of the Johnson scenario will be avoided. There has, at least, been an admission that things went badly incorrect in Pennsylvania and a move to improve on archaic processes.
Something like the last couple of years affects our whole organisation, Mike Davis, the USGAs executive director, said. Any period your competency comes into question that affects the people who are dealing with the history of video games and helping to grow the game. Of course, we want to avoid these things but sometimes things happen.
Specific issues at Erin Hills are partly within the USGAs control and partly not. A huge property some capital cities are smaller will inevitably lead to tediously long rounds. The USGA slashed back the sectors of thick fescue rough early this week but deny that was a response to widespread complaints from players. It is not as if we dont listen to feedback from players, Davis said. But in this case it had absolutely zero to do with what the players were saying. We look at some places and said, simply: This is not going to play properly.
The great unknown comes in the form of weather, which is infamously mutable at this time of year in the Midwest. Early predictions suggest heavy rain will have an impact, most notably on the first round.
Almost a fortnight has passed since Phil Mickelson notified the USGA he likely would not participate in the one major thus far absent from his CV, with the left-hander keen to attend his daughters high school graduation on Thursday lunchtime in San Diego. Davis with a straight face claimed it was pure coincidence Mickelson was given a late period for the first round, thereby maintaining alive the possibility of competing should a significant weather lag arise.
This situation is not particularly impressive, with the clear inference the pin-up boy of US golf is being assisted in a manner that would not be forthcoming towards others. Given the timescales involved, and in avoiding uncertainty for others, Mickelson should have been told either to commit to playing or not.
Johnson arrived in Wisconsin on Tuesday afternoon, his partner having given birth to the couples second child a day earlier. Glory at Oakmont was sufficient for Johnson to finally endorse underlying talent. He is now established as No1 in the world; a course where long, straight driving will be essential is surely of benefit.
Jason Day and Rory McIlroy retain precisely the same weapon, with the latters performance after an injury is a lack of particular intrigue. It is a curious commonplace that none of the worlds best players enter this major in particularly striking kind. The expectancy is of a lower winning score than has been typical over the past 20 years, provided the course must be drawn up in a sensible manner.
We want to afford players a completely clear stage to perform and do their job, Murphy said. We want to stay out of the style and not be part of the narrative. The very fact this phase had to be made at all rather told one of its own.
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