Today was a very full day of Carolina golf: out of the house at 8am to spend the morning on Pinehurst #2 watching the pros practice, and then an afternoon back at my Dad’s Robert Trent Jones track for 18 holes through the pine needles. I did not get a chance to see many big name golfers at the Open practice round today, but I did get a good feel for the course and the challenge it will present for the pros. (I did see David Duval, who perhaps is no longer a big name, but he has gotten bigger in other ways.)
I was at the 2002 Open at Bethpage Black, and I must say that it was a much more impressive looking course than Pinehurst #2. I am inclined to describe Pinehurst #2 as an unextraordinary course in an extraordinary setting. With no water in play and most of the holes having the same basic character, the course layout underwhelms; my Dad likes calling it the most overrated course in the world, and yesterday Sergio Garcia was quoted as saying that Muirfield Village and Congressional (the last two tour stops) are better tracks. But the narrow fairways, long par fours, and the fast, turtle-back greens will still make the course, as it was in 1999, a stern test for the world’s best golfers.
Also, it was very hot out there today, and thus the players’ physical conditioning could play a role this week. However, one interesting and notable aspect of #2 is that many of the greens and following tees are very close together (which is not surprising for a course built when everyone walked). And, because the forecast is for a bit of cooling come the weekend, I would not yet count out John Daly on conditioning grounds alone.
Perhaps watching the pros proved somewhat inspirational, since I was able to post a 75 on the links myself this afternoon (though playing a course 1000 yards shorter than the pros will be facing). This was the first day this season that I have played in hot weather, and I proved to myself again that I am a warm-weather player.