U.S. Open at Oakmont Journal: Tuesday

The Pelzmeter exists, and despite a ten-minute conversation on the fifth green with its inventor, Fred Funk ain’t buyin’ it.

2007 U.S. OpenWhen I arrived at lunchtime yesterday, Lot C was half full. Today, at 7am, I parked in the first row. As you might have guessed, the course was relatively empty as well, and in fact the last four or five holes didn’t even have new cups cut yet or flags installed.

Tiger Woods teed off today with Bubba Watson just as I arrived, and we eventually caught Tiger on the eighth hole as I walked the course backwards getting architectural shots. Read on for the rest of my journal notes from Tuesday at the U.S. Open.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods gave his interview today – no news. He’s a master at fully answering a question without actually saying much. On the course, according to most accounts, Tiger is striking the ball well but is still struggling with his putting. Woods again spent over an hour on the putting green under the watchful eye of Hank Haney, as he did Monday. As is usually the case with Tiger, it’s one of two things: poor alignment (usually left) or failure to release the putter head. Tiger appeared to be working on both.

Johnny Miller
“If the course stays like it is now and doesn’t get firmer or faster, it’s in perfect shape and 280 should win. If it gets firmer, someone who gets lucky or has a hot putting week will win, not necessarily the guy who plays the best.” In other words, Johnny likes how the course is playing today. It’s a teeny bit harder and firmer than yesterday. I agree with Johnny: the USGA would do well to keep the course at the current level of firmness.

Phil Mickelson
I ate lunch next to Dave Pelz as Phil Mickelson gave his interview (after Johnny and Tiger). Phil has been wearing a small brace on his wrist and says it only hurts when he swings his driver. He’s under strict orders not to sign autographs or do anything to further stress his wrist. The prospects of Phil playing well and being healthy enough to play well are shrinking or gone.

When asked about the brace, Phil said he can tighten it to gain more support or loosen it to help circulation. My first thought was “is that legal to use during play?” Phil later admitted it helps support at the top of his backswing and stops his swing from getting too long or loose, then asked “now that I said that, is it legal to use?” I don’t have the time to check the rules of golf, but my hunch is no – that’s not legal.

Oddly, Phil thinks that Oakmont is so penal it is going to force guys to hit drivers. This, of course, is the opposite of Tiger’s approach, and frankly, doesn’t make much sense to me. Old Phil? A bit of gamesmanship?

More on Phil’s thoughts here.

Dave Pelz
Pelz was on the range with Phil early this morning, then walked with Phil while he played nine holes (with Fred Funk and a few others). Pelz was measuring the speed of the greens using a special, computerized stimpmeter that’s accurate to within an inch. Phil said in his interview that 12 of the 18 greens are within five or six inches of each other, but that some of the greens are as slow as 11½ and that others are above 14.

The problem, by the way, with a standard stimpmeter according to Dave Pelz is that they require a flat spot 10-13 feet long, and Oakmont has no such flat spots.

Sergio Garcia
Pick him for your fantasy team. Bear in mind, I won’t be picking him, but everyone else, please, spend the money and get him on your team. Then when he misses the cut and whines some more because he can’t stop hitting hooks off the tee into the Church Pews, I’ll pull ahead in the standings.

The Wind
The wind came up today at about noon. Shots into the ninth were visibly affected, and the narrow landing areas on some of the driver holes tightened considerably when the wind blew. Again, without trees, there’s nothing to shield the wind.

Church Pews
Speaking of the Church Pew bunkers… it’s worth mentioning that there are a second set of new pew-like bunkers on the left side of the 15th hole.

I’ve taken a lot of photographs, but most won’t appear until after the U.S. Open finishes. I simply don’t have the time or computing horsepower (though it’s more about time!) to process and edit the pictures I have taken. Some are pretty nice, and as we did with The Memorial, we’ll publish them shortly after the tournament is over.

Stay Tuned
I hope to post updates daily with my observations and notes from the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont. Stay tuned.

15 thoughts on “U.S. Open at Oakmont Journal: Tuesday”

  1. You had an interesting comment in your article on Phil Mickelson, “He’s under strict orders not to sign autographs or do anything to further stress his wrist.”

    I understand it’s his left wrist that is hurt. Phil, although he plays left handed, is naturally right handed, so wouldn’t he sign autographs with his right hand? I thought that was curious.

  2. I understand it’s his left wrist that is hurt. Phil, although he plays left handed, is naturally right handed, so wouldn’t he sign autographs with his right hand? I thought that was curious.

    He would, yes, but he’d still probably handle and hold the flag, ball, program, magazine, ticket, hat, or whatever other item he would be signing with his left hand.

    I continue to have serious doubts about the legality of that brace/wrap he’s wearing.

  3. I had the same first thought with Phil being right handed…

    Also, there is no way the brace can be legal if he can adjust it or it helps his swing. Although, I haven’t checked the rules to see if there is medical exemptions to that rule.

  4. Keep up posted on the legality of the brace. great article. great site.

  5. Erik,

    Can you elaborate for us on what you meant by “and Fred Funk ain’t buyin’ it?”

    Thanks… your observations are very entertaining. Can’t wait to see the pictures.

  6. Erik,

    Great updates! Looking forward to seeing your pictures as well. As for taking Garcia in our fantasy league – not a chance! 😆

  7. Phil is right handed in everything except golf. Remember the great story about his father teaching him using a mirroring technique…so Phil learned as a lefty.

    As to the brace…hmmm…there’s a decision on the rules pointed out somewhere wherein it states that an “elastic bandage” worn because of wrist injury is legal.

    Sounds to me like a brace is ok as long as he has a bona fide injury to justify wearing it.

    On the other hand, a brace is probably “clothing,” which is “equipment,” which is not supposed to be “adjustable.”

    I think Phil needs a ruling.

  8. Phil definitely needs a ruling. This from the USGA website:

    As noted in the Miscellaneous Section of the Modification to the Rules of Golf for Golfers with Disabilities, there are many golfers who have physical limitations that may result in some degree of disability and that may have a significant impact on their ability to play. The USGA reviews, on a case-by-case basis, unique devices that are designed for use by individuals with such limitations and that do not conform to the Rules of Golf. After reviewing a device, as well as information regarding the individual’s medical condition, the USGA determines whether the device could be permitted as an exception to Rule 14-3 and refers the ultimate decision to the local Committee (e.g., tournament committee or golf club). If the local Committee determines that the individual does not gain any undue advantage over other players by using the device, the Committee may permit the player to use the device during a stipulated round.

    The link to the complete page is here.

  9. Can you elaborate for us on what you meant by “and Fred Funk ain’t buyin’ it?”

    Fred was playing with Phil and on the fifth green got into an animated discussion with Dave Pelz over the validity of his findings with the “Pelzmeter.” That’s all.

  10. If that’s all, why was it in the subhead? I would love to hear what Fred objected to about the Pelzmeter. Did you hear what he said or was your subhead based on your impression of what he said? If you heard the conversation, I’d love to hear the gist of it.

  11. If that’s all, why was it in the subhead? I would love to hear what Fred objected to about the Pelzmeter.

    Because I meant to write more about it, then decided against it. That’s all.

  12. Clarification on the wrist support Phil’s wearing, as someone who had wrist surgery and needed to wear something similar for a while: You can wear a soft support within the rules of golf. That would include things like the compression wrap Phil has on, an Ace bandage or tape. You can’t wear something that is hard, like a splint, that would reduce movement in a certain specific way. There are some training aids that are based on this principle, and they are not OK for handicap or tourney play.

    What Phil is wearing will basically help control any swelling through compression, and help keep the area warm. But the only way it’s going to get better is by letting it rest. Which stinks if you play golf. It only took me about four years to fully recover. ❗

    Erik: Great jab at Sergio. Laughed out loud at that one.

  13. D. Pelz said on Golf Channel that #10 is the hardest par 4 in the world, the next day he backed that down to “hardest in the country” On Sunday it was the 5th hardest par 4 on the course and overall the second hardest 4 on the course (for the week).
    I think he’s half crazy….He wanted Phil to hit tons of practice shots so he could gather data, crunch the numbers and determine the best club and swing to use to get out of the rough.(and he practiced him right out of the Open)…His problem is, he’s too numbers oriented, no feel or swing path thoughts. Someone that can look past numbers and see the game for what it is, knows that rough is damned long and tough and don’t hit out of it too much or you’ll get hurt. Fairly simple, to me.

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