Players unhappy with USGA over course setup
The U.S. Golf Association (USGA) came in for a scathing attack over the condition of Shinnecock Hills, the site of the 104th U.S. Open, as some of the world's best players were left battered and humiliated on Sunday.
World No. 2 Ernie Els began the day only two shots back of eventual winner Retief Goosen.
But as he struggled with the wind and bonehard greens, the 34-year-old two-time former champion went into meltdown.
Els shot a mind-numbing 10-over 80, his worst score at a U.S. Open, to crash from second place to tied for ninth.
The two-time champion had warned on Saturday night that the course was getting out of control.
"Seven is unplayable. The majority of the field is going to make four there which is ridiculous," he fumed.
He was also wrong about the par-three.
The first group through carded sixes, the second group a six and a four.
The USGA decided enough was enough and immediately halted play for 10 minutes to water the green and announced they would water it after every group went through.
But the USGA didn't -- drawing fury from Jeff Maggert, who finished third for the championship behind Goosen and Phil Mickelson.
"I heard David Fay (executive director of the USGA) on television say they were going to water in between every group so when I got to the seventh I was waiting and I asked the USGA guy there if we were going to water and he said no, they only water when they feel like it needs it," complained Maggert.
And the condition of the course overall had him fuming.
"I turned on my television set this morning and saw what was going on and realized that it was going to be a bit on the comic side today," said Maggert, who carded a final round 2-over 72.
"What everybody saw on television speaks for itself. Any sane person can be the judge of how the greens played and realize it's a little ridiculous.
"I felt Friday that they (USGA) were going to let this happen to the golf course.
"They look up at the scoreboard and they see all those little red numbers and they panic. They don't want 10-under to win their tournament and that's just the philosophy that they've had forever," he explained.
Even runner-up Phil Mickelson was not happy about the set-up.
"I played some of the best golf of my life and I still couldn't shoot par," said the Masters champion who carded a 1-over 71.
World No. 1 Tiger Woods was equally unhappy.
"It's terrible at our national championship they lost control of the golf course," Woods said. "This is not the way it's supposed to be played.
"I know you try to identify the best players. There's nothing wrong with it being hard and difficult. But just don't make it so it's out of control unfair."
Woods sank his only birdie with an eight-foot putt at 18 to salvage a final-round 6-over 76 to finish at 10-over 290 after four rounds. He surpassed an 18-hole high set in 2003 and matched 1998 for his worst 72 holes.
Top amateur Spencer Levin was stunned by the course.
"I've never seen greens even close to that fast. That was as hard as it gets," said Levin, who finished the championship 8-over par and tied for 14th spot.
A host of players shot well over 80 for the final round, as the course average was 78.7.
Charles Howell carded an 83, Tom Kite 84, Alex Cejka 85, Craig Parry 85, Phillip Price 84 and Billy Mayfair an 89.