Pinehurst 2014 U.S. Opens Archive

Tiger Woods upbeat about chances at Pinehurst in 2014

Tiger Woods makes birdie on Sunday at the 2005 U.S. Open as he makes a charge up the leaderboard.

Tiger Woods makes birdie on Sunday at the 2005 U.S. Open as he makes a charge up the leaderboard.

 

Tiger Woods hasn’t won a major championship since he beat Rocco Mediate – and the rest of the field – on one leg to win the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

Might that 15th major come nearly exactly five years later at Pinehurst?

Tiger Woods thinks so.

“Pinehurst, I’ve had a third and a second, and hopefully it will keep improving like it has,” Woods said after finishing third at the Turkish Airlines Open.

2014 sets up well for Woods if he is going to continue his assault on Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major victories. While he’s always a contender at The Masters, Woods has also won previously at Hoylake and Valhalla, the hosts of The Open Championship and the PGA Championship.

But Pinehurst is right there in the mix as well, and Woods feels pretty good about his game entering the 2014 season.

“A couple of years ago there were a lot of guys saying I could never win again,” Woods told the media. “I’ve got eight wins since then, so it’s been good and I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made.”

 

“Pinehurst, I’ve had a third and a second, and hopefully it will keep improving like it has.” -Tiger Woods

 

Woods finished two shots back of Payne Stewart in 1999 after making a charge with birdies on 14 and 16, but failed to get up-and-down from a bunker to make bogey after missing a short putt on the par-3 17th, a hole Stewart birdied with a similar putt to take a 1-shot lead over Phil Mickelson, a lead that held up with Stewart’s heroics on 18.

In 2005, it seemed like Retief Goosen was on his way to a third U.S. Open title until his blew up on Sunday. Woods made a Sunday charge, but Kiwi Michael Campbell, with birdies on 10, 13 and 17, held off that charge to prevail, later telling us at Merion in 2013, “The heart of the week was holding off Tiger. I had the best player in the world chasing me down.”

Pinehurst No. 2 has proven to be a favorite of Woods’s.

“Fun golf is Pinehurst,” Woods said a few years ago. “Fun golf is playing links golf.  Fun golf is learning to how to maneuver the ball on the ground and give yourself options.  One of the hardest up-and-downs is when you have options.  You have so many different ways to play and you see a lot of pros really mess up easy shots because they have so many different options.”

Woods isn’t the only all-timer to set his focus on Pinehurst. Phil Mickelson has already gone on the record that he will shorten his 2014 playing schedule to focus on playing well on No. 2 in 2014.

Woods has won just once on Pinehurst grounds – the “Big I,”, or the 1992 Insurance Youth Golf Classic, which was played on Pinehurst No. 7 – and he was 17. During those rounds, his gallery swelled to 75 people. He was hounded for autographs even then, saying, “The price of fame, I guess,” with a smile.

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“There’s going to be a lot of heartache out there” – Ben Crenshaw, Mike Davis relish No. 2′s U.S. Open possibilities

Ben Crenshaw, right, and Bill Coore look over the restoration of Pinehurst No. 2 early in the process.

Ben Crenshaw, right, and Bill Coore look over the restoration of Pinehurst No. 2 early in the process. Photo by John Gessner

“Being a Scot, Ross interpreted the word ‘rough’ to mean ‘broken ground.’” – Charles Price

By Lee Pace

If there was one underlying guidepost that Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw used in their 2010-12 restoration of Pinehurst No. 2, it’s this passage from author and historian Charles Price that appeared in GOLF Magazine in 1979. Crenshaw, an avid student of golf history, knew that Price had lived in Pinehurst at two separate times in his life and also had lived in St. Andrews, thus Price’s opinions carried plenty of weight on the subjects of architect Donald Ross and traditional golf design.

“Being a Scot, Ross interpreted the word ‘rough’ to mean ‘broken ground,’” Price wrote. “In other words, it was never tended in any other way. The ‘fairway’ meant the same to him as the word does to a ship’s pilot, a navigable channel through rocks, sand banks and other obstructions that is the safest way for a vessel to leave or enter a harbor—to leave the tee and enter the green. Consequently, he didn’t create rough to border a fairway. He ‘dredged’ a channel—a fairway—through the rough and left it as he found it.”

Crenshaw harkened back to those words one recent evening in Pinehurst when he and USGA Executive Director Mike Davis joined Pinehurst officials to inspect the golf course and tweak their preparation and maintenance plans just seven months away from the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open.

“One sentence kept going over in my mind, something Charlie Price wrote a long time ago,” Crenshaw said. “Fairways were meant to be an oasis encased in sand, pine straw, pine needles and wire grass. That statement never left our mind.”

Pinehurst No. 2 The 13th Hole - Then and Now

Pinehurst No. 2 The 13th Hole – Then and Now

 

First approached in the summer of 2009 with the idea to restore the course to its original width and character native to the Sandhills of North Carolina, Crenshaw admits that he and his design partner of some three decades tiptoed into the project with some reservations.

“We always thought the course was there, that the bones were intact,” Crenshaw said, referencing No. 2’s evolved look into a svelte presentation of smooth, grassy playing surface. “But we thought it could be depicted in a different manner. We said, ‘We need to tackle this, we need to give it a shot.’

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Phil Mickelson sheds more light on prepping for Pinehurst

 

No doubt, Lefty is narrowing his season all around Pinehurst.

Phil Mickelson has shed more light on how he will alter and shorten his 2014 playing schedule in anticipation for the U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2.

Mickelson recently told reporters he plans to play in the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis the week before the Open at Pinehurst as a tuneup.

“I enjoyed and felt like playing Memphis the week before was very helpful for me to be ready,” said Mickelson, who added a sixth runner-up finish at the U.S. Open this past summer a week after taking second at St. Jude. “They are very similar grasses at Memphis as we have at Pinehurst, with the exception of the greens being bent at Pinehurst … so I plan to play Memphis.”

 

Mickelson added he intends to play The Memorial this season. The Memorial is contested May 29-June – a week before St. Jude and two before the Open. Mickelson said he typically likes playing a three-week stretch of tournaments entering majors, but said the Memorial/St. Jude/U.S. Open trifecta will be the only time he plays three weeks in succession this season.

It also sounds like Lefty will be a regular visitor to Pinehurst in the coming months.

“But I plan on having two weeks prior to the U.S. Open lead up, and I’ll have some time in Pinehurst prior to that,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson’s first of his storied runner-up Open finishes came in 1999 at Pinehurst No. 2. He was tied for 33rd at the 2005 Open at Pinehurst.

 

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Phil Mickelson to scale back schedule to focus on U.S. Open in Pinehurst

 

Phil Mickelson said Wednesday he plans to scale back his tournament schedule to narrow his focus on winning the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

“There is no hiding the fact that winning the U.S. Open would be my career goal, completing the career grand slam,” Mickelson said before the PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic in Malaysia.

 

 

Mickelson has finished as the U.S. Open runner-up six times – famously finishing a shot back of Payne Stewart to place second for the first time in 1999. After winning the Open Championship in July, Mickelson is aiming to become only the sixth player in history to complete the career Grand Slam.

His first chance to etch his name further into history comes at Donald Ross’s famed Pinehurst No. 2 in June 2014. Pinehurst will add to its storied history itself when it hosts the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens in consecutive weeks.

“I want to give myself opportunities to play and compete in the big tournaments, mainly saying the majors, and I’m putting less importance on other events,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson appeared in 20 tournaments last season. For comparison, Tiger Woods, who typically approaches a season focused heavily on performing in major championships, competed in 16 tournaments.

Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen andWoods are the five to win the career slam.

 

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VIDEO: Jim Furyk on No. 2 – “You’re looking at a brand new golf course.”

 

Jim Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open Champion and 16-time PGA Tour winner, visited Pinehurst with friends to play a casual round on the restored Pinehurst No. 2.

Furyk came away impressed by the new look of the course on which he made the cut in both 1999 and 2005, and marveled at the thought of adding his name to the walls of the historic Pinehurst Resort Clubhouse.

“This a place where time stands still,” he says.

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