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Torrey Pines being tweaked for US Open

We all know how U.S. Open courses are set up . . . fairways so narrow you get claustrophobia. Readjust your thinking. At Torrey Pines, the U.S. Golf Assn. has tweaked six fairways for the Open in June and actually widened four of them.

What's next, dumping the rough?

"Everybody thought we'd come in and narrow the place up," said Mike Davis, the USGA's senior director of rules and competitions. "We fooled them."

Of course, Torrey Pines is still brutally long, all 7,643 yards of it, and that's the longest U.S. Open course in history. And there's still a 614-yard hole lurking out there, if the back tees are used.

But for anyone already looking ahead to the Open (hello, Tiger Woods), the fact that the USGA is actually trying to make things even a little bit easier is one for the record books.

Davis said the alterations are actually minor. Here are the changes.

No. 4, 488-yard par four: The hole that runs along the ocean, the fairways have been widened out to the right, up near the green.

No. 5, 453-yard par four: The fairway has been widened in the drive zone, which should bring bunkers into play.

No. 13, 614-yard par five: If the shortest teeing area is used at 5390 yards, the fairway to the left, up against the canyon, is widened.

No. 18, 573-yard par five: A risk-reward hole, the fairway is widened out near the pond and wraps left around the pond.

Of course, the USGA did narrow a couple of fairways, the 612-yard 9th where three yards were taken off the left of the fairway in the third shot area and the 435-yard 14th where the fairway was narrowed up beyond the drive zone.

The Open is still seven weeks away, and that's plenty of time to start getting ready for the chatter about the brutal, 614-yard par five - if it's played from the farthest tee, which would require a 250-yard carry over a canyon.

Davis said the 539-yard tee at the 13th will be used at least once over the weekend and that all three teeing areas (the other is 599 yards) will be used at least once.

But the 614-yard tee?

"If we get normal weather conditions, it'll play straight downwind," Davis said. "But if we get any kind of precipitation or any cool weather and a crosswind or even a Santa Ana, I guarantee you won't see the tee marker all the way back there."


April 22, 2008

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