CONGRESSIONAL: Mike Davis is more interested in risk-and-reward than par when it comes to the U.S. Open.
Davis, who has been in charge of setting up the U.S. Open courses since 2006, is the one who rejected a suggestion that the 18th hole at Torrey Pines be converted to a par 4 to the course would play to a 70. It led to one of the more dramatic finishes when Tiger Woods made birdie to force a playoff, which he won.
Davis also says the sixth hole at Congressional will be a par 5, making the course play to a par 71. It was a par 70 in 1997.
“We’ve built a new tee and we’re making it a risk-reward par 5,” Davis said earlier this month about the sixth hole. “People used to throw darts at us for reducing par, and now we’re increasing par. It’s because we looked at the hole and said, ‘This green has not been built for a par 4.’ And now we can get aggressive with some hole locations.”
Davis also said the graduated rough that has become his signature at the U.S. Open might not be on every hole at Congressional. That requires plenty of room (Bethpage Black, Torrey Pines), and Congressional features tree-lined fairways.
“On some of those holes, we do not have enough width to do what we want,” he said. “You’ll go from the lighter rough to be under some branches. In other cases, we’d have more balls outside the rope line. I think this year will be a different.”
GOLF CHANNEL: NBC Sports and the Golf Channel are now under the same parent company now that Comcast has acquired NBCUniversal. They will show their new association this week at the Match Play Championship with a combined 28 hours of live coverage.
The programming will be branded as “Golf Channel on NBC.”
The coverage will incorporate the Golf Channel look, from tournament graphics to the logo the commentators wear on their apparel.
“There are very few channels whose name delivers exactly what the brand promises,” said Dick Ebersol, chairman of the NBC Sports Group. “Our plan is to grow Golf Channel by exposing it to new viewers through the broad reach of the network and the unprecedented cross-promotional power of NBCUniversal.”
CONSOLATION: The Match Play Championship has changed its format this year. Instead of the semifinals Saturday afternoon and a 36-hole championship match, the semifinals will be Sunday morning, following by an 18-hole final.
Still in place is the consolation match.
Tournament organizers like the idea of a consolation match because of the difference in money, world ranking points, FedEx Cup points and every other year, Ryder Cup points.