Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Shane Ryan’s new book, “Slaying the Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes of the New PGA Tour.” Ryan dives into the 2014 U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2, the USGA, some of the – ahem – more interesting thoughts on Coore and Crenshaw’s 2010 restoration of Donald Ross’s masterpiece. You can purchase the book here.
“Charlie Price, the great writer, he’d say Pinehurst in his day was fairways, and the fairways were oases within sandy country. The wispy rye grass, pine needles and sand, the little tufts of ground, that’s what Pinehurst was.” —Ben Crenshaw, to PGATour.com, on the restoration of Pinehurst No. 2
BY SHANE RYAN
In the nine years preceding the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, the winning score was even par or worse six times. Two of the three winners who actually went under par—Tiger Woods in 2008 and Lucas Glover the next year—stayed nice and close, at -1 and -4, respectively. The only exception came in 2011, when Rory McIlroy put on a historic show at Congressional Country Club, decimating a difficult track to the tune of -16 and asserting himself as one of the world’s best players.
The first winner in that difficult stretch was Michael Campbell, who won at the Pinehurst Resort in the Sandhills of North Carolina with even par in 2005. Campbell has largely been forgotten—he’s a member of golf’s one-hit wonder club, and you can barely find a mention of him at the club—but the previous Pinehurst champion in 1999, Payne Stewart, has become an important part of the resort’s identity. Less than six months after he won the event, he died in a plane crash, and he’s honored today with a large statue outside the clubhouse that captures the moment when he sunk the winning putt on 18 to beat Phil Mickelson—clad in his famous knickers and tam-o’-shanter cap, right foot off the ground, fist extended in triumph. … Continue Reading