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Different game at Pinehurst, inevitable comparison
Question of the Day
PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) - No one might be under more pressure at Pinehurst No. 2 than Mike Davis.
And he’s not even playing.
Davis is the executive director of the USGA and the person responsible for setting up the course for golf’s ultimate doubleheader - the U.S. Open one week, followed immediately by the U.S. Women’s Open. For two weeks in North Carolina, golf becomes like tennis.
Except no one ever tried to slow the grass courts at Wimbledon.
His task is to make Pinehurst No. 2 play the same for men and women, respective of their strength and skill. It’s one thing to move the tees forward by some 900 yards for the women. The fairways are at the same width. The plan is for the greens to be the same speed. The difficulty is making the greens soft enough so that a golf ball struck with the same club responds the same way.
To his credit, Davis already has conceded that the odds of getting it right are about the same as Tiger Woods winning the Grand Slam this year.
And that’s where perception becomes a big part of the equation.
Some of the men privately grumbled last week during the practice rounds - when Pinehurst No. 2 was firm, crusty and brutal - that the USGA surely would pour water on the greens after the U.S. Open and the women would wind up with the lower scores.
This was before Martin Kaymer turned in an exquisite performance and posted the second-lowest score in U.S. Open history at 9-under 271.
And that’s what makes Karrie Webb worried.
“I’m thinking the other way,” Webb, a two-time Open champion, said Tuesday morning on the range. “I’m thinking the USGA didn’t get the score they wanted to win for the men, so they’ll get it from us. But Kaymer just played really well this year.”
Make the golf course too hard, and Davis might get accused of trying to embarrass them. Make it too easy, and the women might not get the respect they deserve.
Is it worth it?
The party line from the USGA is that playing this doubleheader is a wonderful chance to showcase the women’s game.
“It’s like hockey,” said Meg Mallon, a two-time Women’s Open champion and Detroit Red Wings fan. “You have to see it in person to appreciate how good it is.”
By Scott Pinsker
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