USGA Pre-Championship News Conference
BETH MAJOR: Welcome to the 2014 U.S. Open Championship here at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Thank you no joining us today. My name is Beth Major and on behalf of the staff, volunteers and Executive Committee of the United States Golf Association, it's an honor to welcome more than 980 members of the media representing 20 countries to Pinehurst. With a rich tradition of championship golf that dates back to the earliest years of the 20th Century, Pinehurst is often recognized as the "Home of American Golf." But for the next two weeks, Pinehurst will proudly welcome the world -- players, fans, officials and volunteers -- for two unforgettable weeks of championship celebrations. Without further ado, let me introduce Tom O'Toole, Jr., the President of the United States Golf Association.
THOMAS J. O'TOOLE, JR: Thank you, Beth. Welcome everybody to the 2014 United States Open championships, that's plural. And we couldn't be anymore excited about that fact. Before we begin, let me extend my hearty congratulations to the United States Curtis Cup team. This past weekend led by Captain Ellen Port, which one a thrilling 3-7 victory over the Great Britain and Ireland team at St. Louis Country Club; and in fact two of Ellen's players, Emma Talley and Ally McDonald will be in the field next week. Erin Lexi, in fact, is the first alternate on the reallotment. And I suspect with any luck Erin will join us, also. On behalf of, as Beth said, the entire Executive Committee and staff of the USGA and our 6,400 volunteers, thank you for joining us to the press conference for this very historic event. It's our great privilege to host the best men and the best women golfers from around the globe, this time playing back-to-back on the same course. Consistent with our past practices we can expect, under Mike's leadership, to witness a comprehensive, yet fair, examination of the game, both weeks that will test all forms of shot making, physical endurance, and mental toughness. I'd be remiss if I didn't thank our championship chair, Dan Burton and Mike Davis, for the effort that they are putting forth in both of those endeavors. Be assured, we expect both championships to produce exciting competitions. I would like to share with you, your readers, your viewers and listeners the work of the USGA, along with our allied partners that are creating opportunities that will inspire young men and women to be attracted to the game. And by the way, some of these experiencing some wonderful successes. Qualifying for the 2015 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is well under way and we're excited about those entries. We celebrate the success of the inaugural championship this year, and look forward to another successful year ahead. We know that this program will grow year to year in partnership with Augusta National Golf Club and The Masters Tournament Foundation and of course the PGA of America, we're confident the Drive, Chip and Putt will help bring more young people into the game. And we are thrilled, so thrilled and excited to celebrate one of this year's champions, 11 year old Lucy Li, who qualified to play in next week's 2014 United States Women's Open Championship. Wow, is that a story? She will be and continue to be an ambassador for this game that was cultivated through this exciting program. LPGA and USGA girls golf is seeing some amazing growth as well. From 4,000 participants in 2010 the program grew to 33,000 in 2013, and we expect record participation this year in 2014. The USGA has increased its support to girls golf by 50 percent this year, so that more young women can be introduced to the game. We're so proud of the way the LPGA and its players have embraced and been committed to this effort and we're excited that seven former girls golf participants, Brittany Lincicome, Cheyenne woods and Morgan Pressel will be in next week's championship field. The USGA continues to support the First Tee and the great work it is doing to bring golf into high schools and grade schools and in young people's lives. Reaching 3.6 million people in 2013. A special thank you to the First Tee of Sandhills here in North Carolina for staffing the new Pinehurst putting course, Thistle Dhu during these two weeks. I assure you, it will be one of the most popular spots at both championships. During our telecast this week, and at golf facilities around the country, you also see the USGA's continued efforts to make the game more enjoyable and accessible for people who are already playing it. We continue to promote the While We're Young campaign, reminding all golfers and golf courses that pace of play is a critical element to the enjoyable experience of golf. The USGA is also introducing a new program this year called Play Nine, aimed at reminding all of us that we can find time in our busy lives for golf. We all love 18-hole rounds, but sometimes that just doesn't fit into our busy schedules. We are working with American Express to build awareness and promote ways to enjoy golf beyond the 18-hole round. According to the National Golf Foundation, more than 85 percent of all public golf facilities, all 18-hole facilities, are public. And they also offer nine hole rates. In addition to more that 4,000 nine hole facilities in America. One of the first elements will launch this Saturday, a new PSA, starring one of golf's brightest young talents and past United States Walker Cup team member, Rickie Fowler. Let's watch. (Video played.) On Wednesday, July 23rd, we'll ask all golfers, including Rickie, men and women across the country, to join the USGA for Play Nine Day, a simple call to action, we can find time to get a club in our hands, at least for nine holes. Before I conclude, let me personally thank some very important people who came together to make this championship happen. First and foremost, of course, to Bob Dedman, the CEO and owner of the Pinehurst Resort; Don Padgett, our general chairman, and Tom Pashley the incoming President of Pinehurst; and also the entire Pinehurst organization. We've said it many times, we just cannot simply conduct these championships without a committed and dedicated partner. We've enjoyed that partnership with Pinehurst and the Dedman family, since 1999, and we look forward to going well into the future. Also, to the more, more than I indicated earlier, 6,400 volunteers -- and how about this -- a majority of whom are committed to volunteering not one, but both weeks of these championships. Of course, to the Village of Pinehurst, Moore County, the entire State of North Carolina, including Governor Pat McCrory, who is with us today, thank you for your partnerships and of course for your unwavering support. And finally, and maybe the most importantly, allow me to conclude with our friends at NBC and ESPN. This will be our last year together and we're so appreciative of the friendships we have built. The USGA would not be the strong and healthy organization we are today without the work these professional teams have done for us, for more than two decades. They bring our stories to the world and they tell them with such passion and commitment and, of course, quality. Know we are forever grateful. With that, let me introduce our friend and championship chair vice-president, Dan Burton.
DAN BURTON: Thank you, Tom. Good morning everyone. Finally, the thousands of hours of planning, preparation, contingent planning for this historic two weeks is over. Let me say succinctly and clearly, we are ready. Golfers and golf fans alike are in for a treat the next two weeks. For many competitors the journey begins with an extensive qualifying process. In 2014 we set new records in both championships, with 10,127 entries for the U.S. Open, and 1,702 entries for the United States Women's Open. With a combined 147 local and sectional qualifying sites, including International qualifying for the first time for the Women's Open. The field each week has been narrowed to 156 players. The attention of our world class team is focused on preparing the course for a comprehensive examination of skill, endurance; all the while planning for a second test of the women's game next week. The men and women will play the same course, set up in the same manner. We expect to see several women competitors for the U.S. Women's Open here this weekend watching and noticing how the men play the course. Our team is ready to accommodate the transition, even in the event of a Monday playoff. The USGA is equally prepared to deliver an excellent experience for spectators and viewers. The golf community has once again demonstrated strong support of both championships and we are proud to announce that the U.S. Open Championship round tickets have sold out. usopen.com, uswomensopen.com will offer in-depth content and our mobile apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices will bring fans closer to the action. We continue to be amazed at the engagement of Virtual U.S. Open, with more than two million rounds completed on Pinehurst No. 2 this year alone. I did not misspeak -- two million rounds completed on Pinehurst No. 2 this year. This brings our total rounds played in the virtual environment to over 12 million and counting. The USGA and the Village of Pinehurst have created a two-week Open experience that brings the best of the Open Championships beyond the gates to all the residents and visitors. There will be events in Tufts Park in the Village, ranging from a military appreciation function to the North Carolina Symphony. I'm also very pleased to announce and share with you today the exciting news that the Pinehurst Resort will continue its rich traditions of USGA championship golf and memorable experience, for today we are announcing that we have accepted an invitation from Pinehurst to host the 2017 U.S. Amateur Fourball Championship. This new championship, which was announced last year, has already attracted great attention from players, as well as many of our country's most celebrated venues, who are eager to welcome the best amateurs in the game. We are grateful to the leadership people at Pinehurst, for our long-standing partnership and their support of the amateur game. Let me close by adding my gratitude to the staff of the USGA, led by Reg Jones, for a remarkable and well executed championship product. Each year the operations team is presented with a new challenge, a distinct venue, and the unpredictable ways of Mother Nature. They are experienced, well prepared, and eager for these back-to-back championships. That said, thank you for joining us this week. We open hope you enjoy the competition, and I'll turn it over to Mike Davis.
MIKE DAVIS: Thank you. Good morning, everybody, and thank you for joining us. Dan said it correctly, we are absolutely ready. It is -- some years we sit up here and we've had tough weather and it's pouring outside and we're trying to deal with all kinds of issues. We are really ready right now. And I'm beaming to see that brown tinge to the golf course, the absolutely perfect condition of the putting greens. This is exactly where you want it. You're not always lucky to get it this way, going into every national Open Championship, but we've got it this year, and hopefully Mother Nature will be cooperative and it will stay with us. I guess before I get into the golf course, the restoration, the setup, and before we take questions, I did want to acknowledge a few people. Tom started out that Pinehurst has simply been a wonderful partner for many years to the USGA, and Tom mentioned President Don Padgett, incoming president Tom Pashley, and they have been wonderful to work with. He also mentioned Bob Dedman, and I would like to say a few words about Bob. Bob is -- you want to talk about a wonderful keeper of this national treasure, and it is a national treasure here at Pinehurst. Bob is such a visionary, he's so long-term thinking, and for what he's done, not only for our relationship, with our championships and some of the things that we do, but Bob is -- you think about what Pinehurst gives back to the Amateur game. Dan just mentioned that the 2017 Fourball Championship will be coming here. Wonderful. But for a century this place has hosted the North/South Amateur, the North/South Women's Amateur. They're always giving back to the game. And this long-term vision -- and it's just a pleasure to be around Pinehurst and that relationship. We treasure it and thank you very much. And hopefully for many more decades to come. Also, while I'm acknowledging people, we say this every year, but the grounds staff, the superintendent, have as much or more to do with the overall success of this championship than anybody. And Bob Farren, stand up for just a second. I think some of you have met Bob before, but Bob and Kevin Robinson, can't say enough good things about them. We all have seen, at least some of you have seen what Pinehurst No. 2 used to look like and now what it looks like now. And Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore deservedly should get so much applause for that. And I'm going to mention the restoration in just a moment. But, folks, if you don't get the support of the grounds staff, this thing is never going to work. And from day one Bob, Kevin, and the whole leadership at Pinehurst bought into this. And I think one of the things to remember is they bought into this at a time when, economically, the sky was falling. This was back in 2009 when this was really starting to be talked about. You think about putting money into a golf course that was already considered one of the great golf courses in the United States and to do what they did and to close the golf course down, and knowing that there was a risk to that, you know, kudos to them. It's marvelous to see how it's turned out. Then with respect to Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, let me just say that the accolades they are receiving are so deserved. Their vision, the fact that they respected Donald Ross and the original architecture and went back to the 1930s, 1940s and just said, let's restore it to that, I don't think anybody -- in fact, if you're a golf course architectural aficionado, you couldn't have imagined that it would have come out this great. To Bill and Ben, and I'm not sure they're in here right now, but just did a great job, and I can tell you that they're masters at their profession, but they're two gentlemen, too, they are just delightful to work with. So in terms of the restoration, I think everybody that's seen the golf course knows that it has a wonderful rustic feel to it. It really -- as Bill Coore likes to say -- we're looking back in time, but the reality is in some respects we're looking to the future, too. We believe, at the USGA, and we're certainly not alone in this thinking, that the future of the game, we're going to see less resources used on it, less water used on golf courses, which I'll talk about. As I mentioned, very true to the original Donald Ross design, and as I mentioned, we had an architectural forum yesterday, there's a little bit of irony in this restoration, and how this golf course is being set up this week, in that those of you that followed the history here at Pinehurst know that the Tufts family back in the 1800's founded Pinehurst, founded the resort. And the grandson of James Tufts was Richard Tufts. Richard Tufts was the President of the USGA in the early 1950s, and without offending my friend to the right and a future president to my left, he's going to have to go down as if not the greatest president ever, certainly one of them. What he did for the Rules of Golf, what he did for handicapping, what he did for our Greens Section, I could go on and on and on, is legendary. But one of the other things he did, along with Joe Dye, our former Executive Director, and thereafter the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, first Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, was to really have setup and design, a recipe on how you set U.S. Open courses up. So it was really in the early 1950s, when so much of us had followed the U.S. Open with narrow fairways, tall rough, firm, fast greens, that was originally born by Richard Tufts. So we're coming back to his course, much wider fairways, no rough, and I think there is absolutely some irony there. In terms of how No. 2 will be different from the last couple Opens, obviously, esthetically, much different. You don't stand on the tee now and kind of see a mono-stand of Bermudagrass. They received almost 40 acres of Bermudagrass rough. 40 acres. Now it's really returned to, in some ways, the grandeur of the Sandhills in North Carolina, where you get that marvelous, sandy, wire grass area, with native vegetation growing up. The restoration they did, and how it made, just so quickly, took to really a natural look, it's astounding how they blended bunkers in there -- fantastic. So, in terms of a difference from last time, this is most certainly a wider golf course. Which means that, in theory, it's going to be easier to hit fairways, but it's also giving the players more options off the tees. And I think some of the comments I've been hearing from players is, you hear some saying, I'm going to drive it a lot, and others say, I'm going to back up and not hit drivers. The point is, that's wonderful, it's giving them an option. The last go around, I think it's fair to say, it was a question, can you get your ball in the fairway. Again, credit to Bill and Ben on this restoration. Obviously, we don't have long grass rough like we normally do. It's really the first time we've had a U.S. Open, and for that matter a Women's Open without long, what we think of as traditional grass. At the same time you have this sandy, wire grass area where, if you get your ball out in it, you may have a wonderful shot. You may be up against wire grass. You may be on hardpan. You may be in a foot printed sandy, soft sandy lie. You may be on pine needles. But the point is you're going to be in something very unique for what we generally see for a U.S. Open. I do think you're going to see some wonderful recovery shots. You're going to see some shots where two balls are a foot apart and their lies are completely different. But I think that's going to be one of the enticing things this week. And when a player hits it into there, they're really not going to know what they've got until they walk up to the ball, which will be fine, and even when they get to the ball I'm not sure they're always going to know what they have. The restoration, we've been asked by some, saying, is this really going to be the same type of test now? You don't have long rough grass, that it's much wider fairways. And what we really try to do for all of our championships, once we figure -- in the case of a U.S. Open -- can it handle it logistically, you look at the golf course first and you say, can it test, in this case, the world's best players, males and females. And this is a different test from '99 and 2005, but it's absolutely -- as Dan used the word -- it is a wonderful comprehensive test. It's going to test driving. It's going to -- players that can flight their balls, good distance control, recovery. It's going to do that. Around the greens, one of the marvelous things it's going to do is give the players options. When you miss one of these greens, you might, assuming you're not in a bunker, you might try to putt it, you may try to hit a bump-and-run, or hit a pitch shot. Options don't necessarily mean it's easier. And I think that's one of the things we're going to see this week. Dan also mentioned this course absolutely tests all shot-making skills. In addition to that, it will challenge their course setup, it will challenge their mental fortitude. There's so many times here at Pinehurst No. 2, in fact almost on every hole, the way the architecture is, it's just dangling that carrot. There's hole locations maybe on the side you're saying, should I go for that hole location or not? Well, if they do and they execute well, they're going to be rewarded. But if they don't, they're going to pay a price. I think they're going to have to make that judgment back in the drive zone saying, do I want to go for that or do I want to play more safely to the middle? So I think that's great. There's certainly some holes out there, architecturally, where we can, whether it's a par-5 or we move tees up a certain day or so, that there will be some other options, decisions, that the players need to make. I mentioned at the beginning, we couldn't be more pleased with where we are right now. And we maybe get this way once every five years for a U.S. Open, where you come in and then it's just down to really three things, you're managing your mow heights, so in this case we're watching green speeds very carefully. They're basically where we want them to be right now. We're managing the mow heights out in the closely mowns. Believe it or not, we're talking about almost hundreds of an inch can make a difference. We want the players to have a choice of putting, hitting a bump-and-run, or a pitch shot. And if it's cut too short, they'll all putt. If it's cut too long, nobody will putt. And I think we're pretty close to having it the way we want to that. If you're lucky enough, you manage the water. Assuming you don't get rain the next few days, there is a chance of the thunderstorms, but there's been a chance for the last three weeks and we haven't gotten any. It allows us to manage the water, which is really a little bit -- it's a lot science, but it's a little bit art, too. Our Greens Section, along with the grounds staff here, they're reading moisture levels on every green quadrant, they're taking firmness readings; and we meet for roughly an hour every afternoon and look through all kinds of data on every green. We look at fairway data. And, really, that gives us a plan for that afternoon's prep or that evening's prep, along with the next morning. We are in a very good place right now. And now it's monitoring that, along with monitoring Mother Nature. In terms of the setup, and I'm going to speak mostly for the U.S. Open, because we're going to have another one of these next week, and Ben Kimball, who is our lead staff member, will speak to the setup of the Women's U.S. Open. Let me just say that, for the two weeks, our intent is to try to test both groups of golfers in a like manner. Whether we're actually able to pull that off or not is another story that I think a lot of us, including me, are still waiting to see, although we're confident we can get pretty good at it. But we're going to be preparing the golf course the same way. So whatever the green speeds are this week, they're going to be next week. Whatever the mow heights are this week, same for next week. Preparation of bunkers. Same basic hole locations next week. They can't be exactly the same, but if you're back right in the so-called Payne Stewart hole location on the 18th green on Sunday, that's where we'll be for the Women's Open Sunday, as well. To what relatively distances are, what teeing grounds we use, and also the firmness of the greens, not the speed of the greens, but the firmness. So if a male hits a 6-iron in, it reacts the same way as a 6-iron hit by the female. Again, I will acknowledge, this sounds swell on paper, trying to actually execute it perfectly, I can almost guarantee you we won't do that. Yardage, 7,560 yards. That's a little over 300 yards longer than the last two U.S. Opens. We will never play that long on a given day. What that's done in the restoration is give us flexibility on where we do play. The same thing is done for the women, week two, that they're playing at a little over 6,600 yards, which is roughly 900 yards shorter. If it happens to rain a lot week two versus week one, we will take that under consideration, in terms of how the golf course is set up. The putting greens, while the rest of the golf course has a very rustic look to it, a wonderful look, I will also add the putting greens are perfect. I mean, they are perfect. They're healthy. They putt beautiful. We couldn't ask for anything better. And with respect to how are they going to be for week two, they're going to be wonderful. We are managing them to be very healthy for both weeks. So we feel like we're in a great position there. The speed of the greens are in the mid 12's. That's where we really feel, and now that we've done all the hole location work, that that's a good, competitive speed. But we can get to all quadrants of the greens that we want to and we haven't lost any hole locations. These marvelous, kind of turtle back designed greens that Donald Ross did, you know, it's interesting with them, in terms of set up, because when you get these in championship conditions, you may have a green, for example, that's 36 paces in depth. But because they all sit up, you get a false front, false back, false left and right, they don't play 36th in depth. When you get them firmer, when you get them faster, they shrink even more so. One of the challenges this week to this golf course is, can you get yourself up on these greens? Even if you've got a perfect lie in the fairway, you still have to execute a very good shot to, not only distance control, but the right trajectory, the right spin to get it to stop. And it really is -- it's not only just executing the shot, but it's making sure that in your mind you're playing to a spot on the green that you think you can hold it. Closely mown areas, I've mentioned already the intent is three options there. We had been making minor adjustments over the last week in terms of the height there and trying to remove some of the grain. We're very happy with where we are right now. Bunkers, I think two comments on what you see out there is that, when Bill and Ben did the restoration, they really wanted Pinehurst No. 2 back to its original Donald Ross look and feel. So they literally blended the bunkers into the sandy wire grass and that just gives it a fabulous look. We fully support that. When you look at these bunkers, they're being maintained just on the bottom. So raked on a daily basis. But you'll notice, on really the sides of the bunkers, they're not being maintained. In fact, in some cases, there's vegetation growing there. This is a wonderful thing in a few regards. Number one, it fits the rustic look of Pinehurst No. 2. But there's another thing with sustainability, long-term, is when you look at the annual maintenance budgets of golf courses, the most expensive thing to maintain are putting greens, and really by a long shot, but number two are bunkers. And they're hazards. When you look back at the history of the game, you did not want to get in bunkers, they were bad places, that's why they were hazards. In this country, we've gotten into a mentality that bunkers have to be perfect, they have to be maintained so every lie is consistent. What you have this week is inconsistency. You've got bunkers that sometimes can go days without maintaining them. They're saving a lot of money. It's a nice message for the game. In terms of the sandy wire grass areas, I mentioned already, it's not as if there's no maintenance on those, but it really does bring Pinehurst No. 2 back to its original. Before we go into questions, just two more things I'd like to bring up, before I turn it back to Beth. First of all, I think that all of you out there that are covering the championship, for which we're very thankful, there are so many story lines for these two weeks. There's the U.S. Open, itself. There's the Women's Open, itself. But then there's the back-to-back nature. There's this wonderful restoration here that's occurred at Pinehurst No. 2. There's the fact that we're playing a U.S. Open and Women's Open without traditional rough. There are these turtle back greens and these closely mowns, so when you miss a green you're not always taking out a sand wedge and playing kind of a flop shot. Obviously, Payne Stewart, Bob Jones Award that we presented yesterday is a big story and I think we're all sad Payne is not here. But there's one other thing that I've kind of mentioned already that I hope those of you out there will -- because I know so many of you love the game, want to help the game -- but from an environmental standpoint and an economic-impact standpoint, I think there's a message this week, when you look at Pinehurst No. 2, and that is that I think all of us love this game. All of us know some of the challenges the last five, ten years the game's been having with participation. We will acknowledge that we are troubled with the reduction and participation with juniors. We acknowledge that cost is a barrier to the game. We acknowledge the time it takes is a barrier. We're working towards all of those. But one of the things that doesn't get mentioned much is just the resources and the cost of maintaining golf courses. And what they've done with this restoration, really a by-product of this, because they never went into this, with this in mind, but from a water standpoint, as an example. They've gone from, I think I'm right on this, Bob, from 55 million gallons on a annual basis average, using on Pinehurst No. 2, down to roughly 15 million gallons. Folks, that is hugely important. But beyond that, it's just the mindset that golfers have that we have to be lush, we have to be dark green. And I think this might -- we're hoping, as an organization, that maybe this sends the signal that we're not saying that everything has to have a brown tinge to it, in fact, it's really important to note that this is a sand-based golf course, this is Bermudagrass, it can take this. There are certain grasses, ryegrass would be one, if it turns this color, guess what, it's dead. So we're not saying everything has to be tinged, but the message we're saying is, less water on a golf course is a very good thing. We happen to think that, long-term, water is going to be the biggest obstacle to the game of golf, more than participation, more than anything. And I think certainly in certain parts of this country we're already seeing it. It's not going to just be a question of cost. It's a question of, will you be able to get it? If we can start to train golfers to say, less water is good, maintenance up the middle, in other words, what happens out in the roughs, use less water, you have to mow it less, less fertilization, that's a very good thing. And you can help us by messaging that. For the average golfer, while they may love that lush, green look to it, they'll actually have more fun playing golf courses. They get bounces, they can bounce balls into greens, their drives go further. For a really good player, they have to think about what happens when the ball lands. So, anyway, to the extent that everybody in this room can help us message what a good thing this is, we would certainly, I think the game of golf would appreciate it. My last comment, and it's really to tag on what Tom said earlier, I, too, would like to acknowledge both NBC and ESPN. In the case of ESPN, they've been a partner of the USGA for 32 years. In the case of NBC, 20 years. A group of just wonderful people, many of which are friends. They have done a wonderful job for us over the years. I can tell you that, in my 25 years with the USGA, to see what, in the case of say NBC, how they've elevated our championship, the innovations they've used, have just been wonderful. So I think it bears both of us acknowledging that they've been great partners. And with that, Beth, I'll turn it back to you for questions.
Q. Mike, how do you balance the desire, I assume to long hitters, with a layout that only has one par-5 and probably only one that's reachable?
MIKE DAVIS: The question was just about balancing the distance off the tee and some years favor long hitters more than others. I think the first thing I would say is that, when we go to different courses every year, there are some that favor different types of players. I mean, if you think back to 2010 at Pebble Beach, not a long golf course, rock hard, but you knew it was going to be windy. That favored a type of player who could really maneuver the ball, that can handle his trajectory, that knew how to bounce balls into the greens. Versus next year, Congressional, when we got all that rain and it was like throwing darts, you kind of knew that was going to favor a long ball hitter that hit it high. And there's nothing wrong with either one. This week, what's fascinating about it is, I'm not sure what it really does favor. What I do know is it's going to favor somebody that has good distance control and can stop a ball quickly coming into these greens. Obviously, if you're hitting an 8-iron versus a 6-iron it's going to be a little bit easier. But, if you're coming out of these native areas, it certainly will challenge you. So I think what we're going to see is, I hope what we see is, it doesn't necessarily favor anybody. It rewards -- listen, we should always reward length, as long as you can control your length. So you never want to see us cut off a fairway, for example, just because we don't want to see long hitters. I think this is going to be a wonderful test and I think, at least from what I'm seeing so far, the best shot makers are going to -- or the best shot maker and the best thinker is going to win this week.
Q. Mike, you've used the term "rustic" several times. For viewers who will begin tuning in for the next few days, don't know the context, don't know the history, and weren't privy about the forward thinking, the cost, environmental thinking. How often do you think people will tune in the next couple of days and think, this course looks weird?
MIKE DAVIS: I think there will be some of that. I think they're going to turn on and say, did I tune into a British Open? What is this I'm looking at? Sorry, The Open (laughter). You know, I hope that it's conveyed in such a way, and I do think our broadcast partners, and certainly the people in the room can convey it in such a way that, here's a golf course that really went back to its roots. It's focused on maintenance up the middle. The reason you see the browning out of the sides of the fairways is they have single row irrigation now. So where the -- it's just not getting watered. It's depending on Mother Nature. And it's good. And it's exactly what Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw wanted. I do think there might be some that tune in and say, I love dark green, I love lushness, I like when a ball hits and stops immediately. That's okay. It's like artwork, I suppose. Something you like, I might not like and vice versa.
Q. A year ago at this press conference, whether it was real, it certainly was implied, that we should not be concerned with the final score. That 20-under par, it's still going to be a national championship. Is it safe to say you don't have those concerns this year?
MIKE DAVIS: Well, with respect to the score, and we do have a very firm, fast golf course right now, you know, when you think about the two things, just beyond the architecture, the course and how it gets set up, when you get firmness, I think everybody in the room knows that is an added element that just makes it a tougher test. When you get wind, kind of the invisible hazard, that makes it tougher. So last year you had Merion that -- it was soft. And so that element of what's going to happen when your ball lands, where is it going to roll to, where is it going to bounce to, wasn't there. But as we saw last year at Merion, it's such a -- such a great test, and a tough test. This year we've got just the opposite. Real firm, fast conditions. I can promise you -- I know everybody in the room is probably going to think I'm not telling the truth, but we don't talk about what the winning score is going to be. We really don't. What we talk about is that, geez, I want to see the golf course play a certain way. And so I'm not sure anybody would view whether 10-under or 10-over wins is a success or not, it's more of how did the golf course play on a given day. And again, some of you may be cynical in what I'm saying, but I'm telling you, we do not talk with about, even par must win. We're much more focused on the golf course and setting up a good, stern, fair, exciting test.
Q. What do you think the winning score is going to be (laughter)?
MIKE DAVIS: Do I have to answer that, Doug? What the winning score is? I'm not a good guesser at that, partly because I never know what the weather is going to give us. But I will tell you, if we don't get any more rain -- if we don't get any rain from here on out, this is going to be a tough test. Because it's going to be firm. Those turtle back greens, that you've got to get yourself up on, very tough. You look back at '99 and 2005, that is -- look at how those greens played. And they're not really much different now.
Q. I actually had two things I wanted you to address, you didn't have to answer that if you didn't want to. When you talk about what a tough test it's going to be, do you ever reach a case in preparing a golf course, that if it gets too tough that you no longer identify the best player, necessarily?
MIKE DAVIS: Well, I think there's certainly been times when the golf course has gotten so tough that you were watching -- in fact, you could almost say maybe parts of it became unfair over the years, that you were watching well executed shots being penalized. We never want that. Never want that. But having said that, when you get the world's best players, and we're trying to set it up in this manner, it's probably easier to cross the line than we would at, say, U.S. Girls' Junior Championship, because we can't get the conditions quite as firm for them. But, listen, all we can do is try to set up a golf course that is a good, fair test that tests all aspects of the game. And then let the 156 players play. And whoever wins -- and listen, we all know, there's different courses for different horses, but it's also who is playing well that week. Who is making the putts.
Q. Lastly, Mike or Tom, either one, we were in this community seven years ago when the Executive Director of the USGA said that he didn't know the exact date for the Women's Open in 2014, but that it was going to be at Pebble Beach. What happened? Why aren't the women going there? And will they ever?
THOMAS J. O'TOOLE, JR: I'll take that one. When we were onsite at 2010 for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach you recall that we made a collaborative announcement that we were going there for the '18 Amateur and the '19 U.S. Open to celebrate their centennial. In those discussions we mutually withdrew the concept of going there for '14 in for the women. We will continue to advance the idea of taking the Women's Open to Pebble Beach. That's one we will continue to discuss with the companies.
Q. Why did you withdraw it from -- sounds like you withdrew it from future consideration.
THOMAS J. O'TOOLE, JR: No, it wasn't from future consideration, it was really the press of the imposition on the resort for the two championships back-to-back in '18 and '19. And the resort and the conventional thinking was, okay, we won't burden them also in '14. We'll go there in '18, '19, we'll talk to a future Women's Open thereafter.
Q. Did Pebble withdrew its invitation?
THOMAS J. O'TOOLE, JR: It was a mutual discussion.
MIKE DAVIS: I just noticed Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw came in. Gentlemen, welcome, and thank you for the great work you've done. (Applause.)
Q. Mike, the there was a LPGA tournament in my area, and some people were excited about the possibility of back-to-back Opens and playing the course that's hosting the Men's Open. And a few were concerned about the condition of the course, a lot of traffic, two weeks of practice rounds, vivid traffic on the green. What have you said to them to allay their fears about the conditions the second week?
MIKE DAVIS: A few months ago I spoke at an LPGA players meeting at the invitation of Commission Mike Whan and it was a wonderful meeting. And they're very, very excited about next week. There's been, I think it's fair to say, probably more talk about the Women's Open, this back-to-back thing, than we've had going into any Women's Open in probably the last 69 playings. We're excited about that, they're excited about that. Yes, they had some questions about how the logistics work, how are the hotel situations going to work, how can I practice, what about divots. But I think if anybody was sitting in that room they would realize that there was such a positive atmosphere. And with respect to how the golf course is right now, with divots and so on, it's really, the last three days, that if we're going to see divots, you're going to see it. When you go out on that golf course right now, it really is not bad right now. Will we see players getting in divots this week? Yes. Will we see them getting in it next week? Yes. That's part of the game. We're excited about what this can do. In a lot of ways, this next week is going to be showcasing women's golf. That's one of the reasons we wanted to do it. I certainly am a big believer that most golfers do not realize how good these female players are. They play a slightly different game, but they play a marvelous game, and it's going to be neat to see them on the same iconic golf course here at Pinehurst.
Q. Mike, I was curious, you had mentioned the possibility that a ball could end up in a footprint in the natural areas. What is the maintenance protocol, if any, for those areas throughout the week?
MIKE DAVIS: So the maintenance protocol for the sandy wire grass areas is nothing. We have done nothing to those. We talked, when Bill Coore was in about a month ago, when we were here for Media Day, is, what maintenance do they need, should we remove some vegetation; and what's so interesting about those, if you were here six weeks ago, they were completely different. There were springtime annuals growing up. They've really died back, and now you have the summer things coming up. The fact that it's been dry for the better part of a month, it's wispier in there. If we had a lot of rain coming into this, what we probably would have done is pull some of the plant life out. But we think it's about the right amount now. We've done nothing. No raking, no anything.
Q. Mike, there's been a noticeable increase in security in the form of armed federal agents and car searches. Is this a product of a post-Boston Marathon world or has there been a specific threat?
THOMAS J. O'TOOLE, JR: I'll jump in on this one. Our security has evolved over the years, because of the world we live in. But Reg Jones, our Senior Director of the U.S. Open Championships, has prepared this site for the security, long list of protocols, which we don't share with the public, obviously. We're just preparing for any contingency. We don't know anything specific, but we want to be able to be prepared and, of course, react if we have to.
Q. Everybody is focused on the transition to the women. My question is, how different is the course setup for the men in terms of standards, stressing, putting things on the edge? How different is it now because the women are following, in terms of the course setup for this week?
MIKE DAVIS: Well, interesting question. There really isn't a difference. One of the things at our 2:30 daily meetings, that we started a week ago, the first thing after we talk about the weather forecast is we talk about the greens. The first thing on the greens is the health of the greens. I can honestly say, we wouldn't be doing anything differently if we weren't having the Women's Open next week than we are right now. We're prepping these greens for the U.S. Open exactly the way we're preparing one if there had been one. But they're so healthy right now we're confident into next week. Once we get through Sunday, we'll assess where we are. I'm quite certain they'll get a drink and then we'll come into the Women's Open just like we did for the Men's Open, that you kind of creep up to it a little bit. I think we're in position really well-to-do that.
Q. You talk about the artful blending of bunkers and waste areas, do you anticipate any potential problem in determining whether a ball is in one or the other?
MIKE DAVIS: Well, when Bill and Ben first talked about the type of bunkering they would like to do, very early on they asked us our opinion, saying, are you okay with this for your championships? And we said, unequivocally, yes, we are very comfortable with it. So the way we explain it to the players and certainly our own rules officials is that the bunkers really by definition, are hollows and they contain sand. And that's what you have out there. And balls are almost always going to roll to the bottom. But where there's maybe any question about, am I in a bunker or am I through the green, we will have a walking rules official with every group, just like we have since 1991 at every U.S. Open, and they will make a decision. But even if it's so close you'd say, I'm not sure, because somebody raked this further than maybe it should have gone, we're -- if we -- we've told our rules official to treat it as a hazard. Which basically means you can't ground your club or remove a loose impediment that's within the bunker. We don't think it's going to be an issue this week. We don't have any bunkers outside the rope lines, so we won't have spectators walking through them. We've had that question some. We feel good about the situation.
Q. Mike, it's a long-standing belief of the USGA that we all play the same game, that we all play by the same rules. If that's the case, why do you still feel the need to turn par-5s into par-4s, have four par-4s over 500 yards and add a 260 yard par-3 tee so late in the game? How do you reconcile those things?
MIKE DAVIS: You asked -- a few parts of that question. First of all, I think one of the differences from 2005 to 2014 is that we did flip the par on holes 4 and 5. Why was that done? Because we felt that that was much truer to Donald Ross's original architecture, in that, the fourth hole always played as a slight dog leg left, with a fairway that cants right. If you go back and look at it it's a much better hole from there. We also felt with a larger 4th green that they could take a long shot coming in. No. 5 was originally designed as a par-5 by Donald Ross. It was played as a par-5 in the 1936 PGA Championship. It is the hardest -- I mean, by a pretty large margin, the hardest green on the whole course to hit. It sits up in the air. Its square footage is the smallest. But at the end of it, par is just that. It's just a number. As Don Padgett, I think rightly said many times, those two holes are going to play to a par 9 no matter what we call them. And with respect to, why did we build, within the last month, a new tee at the 6th hole, the simple answer was, Pinehurst removed a brick rest room that was there and we thought, this will give us an opportunity to spread the length of shots into the different par-3s. If you look on the card, they're all roughly the same yardage. So you're going to see, on the 6th hole, we may play it back to where it's 240 some yards a day, we may move it way up another day, depending on hole location, depending on weather condition. You look at the card and say, why is it 300 yards longer? The answer is we want that flexibility. In some cases adding a bit more yardage worked architecturally. In some cases we added another tee that is actually shorter. You won't see that on the scorecard. You'll see us use some short tees that we didn't use in '99 or '05.
BETH MAJOR: On behalf of Tom, Mike, and Dan, we thank you all very much for being here today and throughout the next two weeks. We look forward to a great two weeks of championship golf here at Pinehurst.
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