(AP) — Torrey Pines will be listed at 7,643 yards, making it the longest course in major championship history. But what gets Mike Davis excited is the potential for the shortest par 3 at a U.S. Open in eight years.
The third hole will measure 195 yards on the card, about the same distance used in the Buick Invitational. With the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, it typically requires a long or medium iron down the hill into a breeze to a green that is protected by a bunker in the front. Anything long or left falls off the cliffs into a hazard.
Davis, senior director of rules and competition for the USGA, stumbled across a tee from 142 yards that might be even tougher.
“It not only sits at a different angle, it sits up in the air even higher,” Davis said. “It should be dead into the wind. That puts them up in the air with a wedge shot, dead into the wind.”
Davis said it reminded him of No. 7 at Pebble Beach, which is 107 yards and among the most famous holes in golf. Even though it’s barely a sand wedge, it can be a brute for even the best players trying to get the right distance and trajectory.
“We plan to use it a couple of days,” Davis said of the forward tee at Torrey Pines. “And when we go up, we’ll be more aggressive with the hole location. It’s not going to be a real easy hole with a wind into you.”
The toughest hole locations will be front left (just over the bunker) and back left, where anything long will go into the hazard.
That might not be the only hole with a forward tee.
Even though the course will be the longest in history, Davis said it probably never will play its full 7,643 yards. The par-5 13th hole has three tees that make it play either 614, 599 or 539 yards.
One change to the 13th is a short cut of rough to the right.
The fear of playing that hole at 614 yards is an unexpected shift in wind, which could leave players with a 250-yard carry into the wind just to reach the fairway. Davis said there is a short cut of rough to the right for such situations, meaning players would only have to hit it 220 yards to at least have a chance at the second shot.
MAJOR STREAK: Juli Inkster has not missed an LPGA major since the 1994 Kraft Nabisco Championship, and she was absent for that one for good reason. She was pregnant with her second daughter, Cori, giving birth the same day as the first round.
That was 56 majors ago, a streak that is about to end.
Inkster, a Hall of Famer with seven major championships, said Tuesday she will skip the McDonald’s LPGA Championship next month, again on account of her youngest daughter. Cori is graduating from the eighth grade, and Mom doesn’t want to miss it.
“You only graduate once, right?” Inkster said.
Of lesser note is the Corning Classic, which Inkster will skip because her oldest daughter, Hayley, is graduating from high school.
BIG PAYDAY: The best part for Andy North at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf was spending the week with good friend Tom Watson, having dinner with families and hitting a few good golf shots. Getting into the hunt was fun. Winning made it even better.
And don’t overlook the payoff.
The two-time U.S. Open champion earned $225,000, his largest check at an official tournament in four decades of golf.
“I was fully exempt for 23 years, and that was more than I made in any one year,” North said with a chuckle. His biggest financial year on the PGA Tour was in 1985, the year he captured his second U.S. Open, when he earned $212,267.
North’s career was interrupted by nearly a dozen surgeries, and his body won’t allow him to play more than a few times a year on the Champions Tour, or even consider abandoning his work as a TV analyst to try.
But there was one perk that came with the team event last week: it made him eligible for the MasterCard Championship next year in Hawaii, which kicks off the Champions Tour event.
“That’s the first thing (wife) Susan said to me when we finished,” he said.
AMATEUR TO PRO: Ryan Moore came close to ending an obscure drought. It has been five years since a USGA champion has gone on to win on the PGA Tour, dating to Brandt Snedeker, who won the U.S. Amateur Public Links in 2003.
Moore had the most celebrated amateur career this side of Tiger Woods, sweeping the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Amateur Public Links and NCAA title in 2004. Then he managed to earn his card without having to go through Q-school. But it has been a slow road since he turned pro, most of that brought on by a series of injuries.
Even so, there hasn’t been much success from prominent amateurs who turn pro. Since Woods completed his amateur career with an NCAA title and his record third straight U.S. Amateur title in the summer of 1996, only six USGA champions and three NCAA champions have won on the PGA Tour.
The USGA champions were Snedeker, Matt Kuchar (’97 U.S. Amateur), David Gossett (’99 U.S. Amateur), Hunter Mahan (’99 U.S. Junior Amateur), D.J. Trahan (’01 Public Links) and Trevor Immelman (’98 Public Links). The three NCAA winners were Troy Matteson (2002), Charles Howell III (2000) and Luke Donald (1999).
SPIN OF THE WEEK: Meg Mallon crossed the $9 million mark in career earnings on the LPGA Tour last week in Florida, while Wendy Ward went past $4 million. The LPGA Tour decided to combine the good news.
“With a combined total of 22 LPGA Tour victories between them,” the statement began.
Mallon has 18 victories, including four major championship. Ward has won four times.
That’s like saying Joe Montana and Steve Young combined to lead the San Francisco 49ers to five Super Bowl victories.
DIVOTS: Tiger Woods is not at the Wachovia Championship while he recovers from knee surgery, only the third time he has not defended a title on the PGA Tour. He missed the Buick Open last year after his daughter was born, and he did not return to the 1999 BellSouth Classic when it was moved to the week before the Masters. … Adam Scott became the seventh player in his 20s to win on the PGA Tour this year, equaling the number that won in all of 2007. The others are D.J. Trahan, J.B. Holmes, Sean O’Hair, Andres Romero, Johnson Wagner, and Trevor Immelman.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Lorena Ochoa has won five times in 2008 by a combined 37 shots. A year ago on the LPGA Tour, she won eight times by a combined 23 shots.
FINAL WORD: “He’s a good player. Obviously, when he’s not playing football, he spends a little bit of time playing golf, which is probably good — better than doing some of the other things a lot of those guys do.” — Scott Verplank after playing a pro-am round with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.