ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser and Jay Bilas enjoyed their rounds on Pinehurst No. 2 so much recently they took a few good-spirited – and untrue – jabs at their caddies.
Here, Pinehurst goes 5 Good Minutes (and change) with Mr. Tony and Bilas, who talk about their rounds, the joy of being able to play a U.S. Open course, Tony’s favorite golf story he’s ever covered and even an Old Guy Radio song choice specifically for Pinehurst.
The two-time U.S. Open champion knows a little something about Open venues as well.
So when Strange got his first look at the Pinehurst No. 2 restoration during the recent Liberty Mutual Invitational, the man who won two North and South Amateur titles while starring at Wake Forest in the mid-1970s could easily envision how the course and the championship would mesh together.
Few, in fact, could do it better.
And Curtis Strange liked what he saw.
“When I first see this, it takes me back to the 70s to my old North and South days, because it’s very similar to the way it used to be,” Strange said.
Strange is also a fan of one of the most significant changes to the USGA’s U.S. Open preparation of No. 2 – the switching of the fourth hole to a long par-4 and the fifth to a daunting par-5, complete with new back tee boxes.
“You know, the back tee, it looks pretty doggone good. I like it. I really do,” Strange said.
When the King speaks, golf fans tend to stop and listen.
In advance of the 2007 celebration surrounding the centennial of Pinehurst No. 2, Arnold Palmer visited the area he so often enjoyed in his youth with his father, and took a few minutes to chat about his own special history at Pinehurst and on No. 2.
The King’s comments were captured on video, and have been rarely seen or heard.
Palmer has a perspective on Pinehurst like few alive today. Not only is he one of the greatest and most important players in the game’s long history, Palmer’s fascination with Pinehurst is intertwined with the memory of his father Deacon, who visited Pinehurst often in the 1930s and 1940s. Arnold would occasionally join him and eventually enroll at Wake Forest College in the late 1940s, winning the Southern Conference Championship on Pinehurst No. 2 in dramatic fashion over Harvie Ward.
He recounts those memories here.
Stunningly, that college championship was The King’s only victory in Pinehurst. Palmer never advanced past the semifinals of the North and South Amateur, even losing 12 & 11 to Frank Stranahan in the 1949 event. He also missed the cut at the World Open in 1974 only days after being enshrined in the Golf Hall of Fame, then missed the cut again in 1975.
But those misfires never dampened Palmer’s love for Pinehurst and its most celebrated golf course.
“I have great memories of visiting Pinehurst in the old days,” he said in 1994. “For a kid from Latrobe to visit the golf capital of the world was a special treat.”