Oak Hill C.C. is one of very few courses to have hosted a U.S. Open, a U.S. Am, a PGA Championship, and a Ryder Cup, however, it gets left of the Mount Rushmore of great American golf courses for some reason. Don’t ask me why, it’s resume should speak for itself. Maybe it’s because of it’s geographic location, Rochester isn’t exactly a major metro area. That’s possible, but more likely is the fact that the U.S. lost the Ryder Cup played there and the last two major champions crowned at Oak Hill weren’t exactly super stars. It has history, but not much that is recent.
Curtis Strange? Yeah, two opens, major champion, money leader on tour a few years……so what. Were you tuning in to see him win 24 years ago? Shaun Micheel? His lone win on the PGA Tour came here in 2003 when Oak Hill last hosted a major and the PGA Championship. I’m sure you remember the shot, but do you remember much else from what week? It was mostly forgettable.
The last six holes at Oak Hill are set up to decide this championship and provide tons of drama. The 13th is a 600 yard par 5 that has never been reached in two in competition. To reach it a player will have to carry their tee ball 310 yards over a water hazard. That’s not impossible because it is down hill and could play downwind. Tweeters on the grounds today said that Nicholas Colsaerts had a twenty footer for eagle in his practice round. I’ll be watching to see if he can do it again when it counts this week.
The 15th hole is a dainty par 3 that has water down the right side of the green. Flirting with firing at a pin on that side of the putting surface will be a dangerous proposition on Sunday afternoon. Will they put the pin in that back right corner? Well, that’s up to you. No shit. It’s old news by now but the PGA is letting fans pick the hole location for Sunday. You can provide your input here and help decide history. Yes, this is a bit gimmicky, but when you’re the 4th major you have to do shit like this to help market your product.
The East Course ends with two long par 4s that will be ball busters to a player trying to pin down their first major title or a veteran going for major number 15. Both play close to 500 yards and require power and precision. Players needing birdie to chase the leader will have their work cut out for them playing these two difficult finishing holes.
The rest of Oak Hill isn’t that long. It plays under 7200 yards. Even playing to a par 70, that isn’t much longer than Merion which was chastised by journos and critics leading up to the U.S. Open for how short it was.
I’ve never played Oak Hill, but I must say it’s on my bucket list. If you’re not familiar with it, I recommend taking a visit to one of my favorite sites for a closer look. The Itinerant Golfer has been there and done that and he provides the details of his experience, some quirks of the course, and first person photos of his loop around the layout.
Tiger And Phil Pressers
Is there really anyone else we need to hear from in these pre-tourney ball washings? Shaun Micheel? No thanks. Tiger and Phil are the only two guys that matter at this point in the year with what’s occurred in the last 4 weeks. They’re number 1 and 2 in the world, they both only play golf to win majors, and they’re the only two that can say something that can spark pre-tournament chatter among fans and media. That being said, they didn’t tell us much that we don’t already know today. They rarely do save Phil’s annual slip up.
What they did say is that neither will be using their drivers (much) this week in New York. Phil of course won’t use his or even have it in the bag. That’s been the standard with him for the last five or six weeks. He’s using his Phrankenwood again and plans to keep the ball in play as much as possible with this game plan. It’s not broke, why fix it? He’s also got an extra wedge in the bag to help him deal with the thick rough around Oak Hill’s greens.
Tiger told the press that he has a game plan set up and it doesn’t include him hitting driver but a handful of times, depending on wind and weather conditions. In theory that makes sense. Tiger struggles to put tee shots with his driver in the fairway from time to time, and he’s phenomenal using irons and fairway woods off the tee, but we’ve seen this backfire before. He didn’t hit drivers at Merion or Muirfield this year and failed to win. Jack Nicklaus is on record saying you have to have command of your driver to win majors and Tiger will struggle if he doesn’t hit his well. I tend to agree with Jack. Tiger dominated when he drove it better than everyone else. Hitting driver giving him shorter scoring clubs into greens is how he’ll make birdies. Laying back is going to put more pressure on his overall game than is necessary and will handicap him against the field.
Of course, drive for show and putt for dough. If Tiger putts well, none of what I said about his driver likely means jack shit.
Ralph Lauren dresses Billy Horschel and today they released sketches of what Billy will be wearing in Rochester, assuming he makes the cut and plays four rounds. Horschel made waives wearing octopus pants at Merion for the 4th round of the U.S. Open. Then at the British he was scheduled to wear a Ryan Moore special (cardigan and tie) on the weekend but missed the cut to save us all the hilarious Twitter comments. This week, Billy goes bold again with camo pants on the schedule for Sunday.
Mr. Horschel is starting to rival only Ian Poulter in his attire. I like Billy, or at least I try to. He’s fun to watch and plays with emotion. I also like it when guys dare to be bold in their attire on the course. I’m not sure if Bill is pushing Polo to provide him with these looks or if its the other way around, but I think he’s on the brink of looking like a disaster if he isn’t already.
Adidas/Taylormade/Ashworth also released a promo today of their tournament gear for the PGA Championship. The rumor around the interwebs is that Jason Day will don the outfits shown below from left to right for the 1st through final round.
Day’s wardrobe is the anti-Horschel look. Boring greys and solid shirts are fine, just don’t call them chrome or some other non-standard color to try to spice it up.
I’ve been meaning to involve more contests via this site and its readers for bigger tournies and majors, but the road to hell is paved with child molesters…..wait, that’s not how that goes is it? Whatever. Anyway, this week for the PGA we’re going to use the ESPN Best Ball Majors Fantasy game. It’s simple. Everyone has an ESPN account (if not make one). Log in or click on the link above, make your selections, and join my group – ShutFaceGolf. Our only requirement is that you stay under the salary cap provided. Total score doesn’t count for the individual players, it’s a best ball, you get the lowest score per hole that a guy on your team makes. Comprendo?
If you win, you get bragging rights, special mention here next week, and perhaps a prize if I can dig one up. I’ll keep you posted on that.