Pinehurst 2024 U.S. Open Archive

Top 5 Pinehurst U.S. Open moments you may know nothing about

We all probably have an idea of what the best U.S. Open moment in Pinehurst history is. Here are five of the best Pinehurst U.S. Open moments you may know nothing about.

Frolin’s New Best Friend: His buddy Rors

Less than a week before the 2014 U.S. Open, several players visited Pinehurst early to get a look at No. 2, many of them taking local caddies. That included Rory McIlroy, who stayed at The Carolina Hotel and routinely rode the shuttle over to the course. There, at the clubhouse, he’d run into Frolin Hatcher every day.

If you’ve been to Pinehurst, you’ve likely met Frolin. He’s one of the lovable guys at the bag drop who has been working for Pinehurst for over 50 years.

One day, after finishing a practice round, Rory came up the steps at the veranda and walked into the long hallway of the clubhouse. He passed the men’s locker room, and a few steps later, out came Frolin from that locker room.

Looking ahead, Frolin recognized Rory. He hollered out, “RORS!”

McIlroy stopped, turned, and seeing Frolin, yelled back.

“FROLIN!”

McIlroy stood still, waited for Frolin to reach him, and put his arm around Frolin’s shoulders, walking the rest of the way to the clubhouse door.

Click to Enlarge

Look Closely at Payne Stewart’s Sunday Scorecard

Maybe you’ve seen Payne Stewart’s Sunday scorecard from the 1999 U.S. Open in the display case in the Pinehurst Clubhouse.

But have you REALLY looked at it?

You can see it above. Look closely. Remember how Payne buried a birdie putt on 17 right after Lefty had missed from in close? And, of course, you remember the putt Payne made to win on 18.

So look at the card again. Look at the 2 on 17 and the 4 on 18.

They’re darker than the other numbers.

Often, players keep score for their playing partners in major events like these. That’s probably Phil’s handwriting with the numbers. And that 2 and 4 must’ve REALLY stung.

The Loudest Roar You Never Heard

When Payne Stewart’s putt dropped at the 18th hole of No. 2, the roar from the thousands around the green was deafening.

Still, it may not have quite drowned out another roar, which came around the corner, maybe less than 100 yards away.

That was where the U.S. Open Media Flash Interview Area was set up in 1999, near the back entrance of the Pinehurst Country Club.

As Payne and Phil came down the stretch, a large crowd of media began forming in the flash area. There, on a little card table, sat a 15-inch tube TV with the broadcast. The media swarm huddled around it, waiting to see what would happen.

If Payne made the putt, he would win the U.S. Open. If he missed, there would be an 18-hole playoff on Monday.

And so let it be known that the only roar louder than the one around the green at 18 was the one from the media, who had just watched that one moment in time on a little TV.

Little Lucy’s Big Decision

Before Michelle Wie’s triumph, Lucy Li was THE story of the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open. She qualified for the Open at just 11 years old, but before she would steal the spotlight and the hearts of every media member, she made a very savvy decision: hire a local caddie from Pinehurst No. 2.

That fell to Bryan Bush, a teddy bear of a guy who had the pitch-perfect sense of humor to keep Lucy relaxed and focused. The two got to know each other a couple of weeks before the Open, with Bush traveling to meet her and work with her.

The partnership was a terrific one. Li, at such a tender age, played beautifully in the first two rounds. While she missed the cut, she handled the attention and the course impeccably.

And there was Bush, who still works at Pinehurst, every step of the way. He was there for a quick laugh when Lucy needed it, a hug when the time called for it, and the right words of encouragement to get her around No. 2.

Michael Campbell’s Passenger Seat

Michael Campbell, the 2005 U.S. Open Champion at Pinehurst, has always been one of the most likable guys in golf. And while his win on No. 2 may have come as a big surprise to many, even Campbell found himself in moments of disbelief, like the time he buckled the U.S. Open trophy into the passenger seat of his rental car following the trophy presentation and media obligations.

Watch above and listen to Michael tell it. It’s a great, tender, sweet story.

Here’s to looking forward to new memories in 2024.

Leave a comment

The Best 2-Hole Playoff Scenarios on Pinehurst No. 2

With the USGA’s announcement that future Open championships would now be decided by a two-hole aggregate playoff instead of the longstanding 18-hole tradition, we asked around and took a look at what might be some of the most fun two-hole combinations should there be a playoff at the 2024 U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2.

A few things to start:

  1. It would be hard to imagine one of the holes not being the 18th. That’s where the grandstand seating 10,000-plus is always built. It’s also the scene of perhaps Pinehurst’s most famous moment. So, we’ll definitely look at 18th-hole scenarios, but for fun, we’ll look at a bunch of others as well.
  2. Many people have wondered how a 3-hole playoff might be more ideal. That’s a reasonable consideration, but we’ll stick to two holes*.
  3. In each scenario, we chose two holes relatively close to each other.
  4. We know the USGA will make this decision; we’re just having some fun with it.
  5. We’re using yardages from the 2014 U.S. Open.
    *Well, we bend the rules for one of them.

Finally, when we posed the question on Twitter and Facebook, a lot of the initial answers were the same. So we’ll start there.

4th Hole, Par 4, 529 yards
5th Hole, Par 5, 576 yards

When the pars of these two holes were changed to more reflect Donald Ross’ original design, two-time U.S. Open Champion Curtis Strange remarked that he always considered that two-hole stretch a par-9, anyway. The holes do feel like a packaged deal. It’s a tremendous spot on No. 2, and the 4th and 5th may make for the most dramatic-looking tee shots anywhere on the course. Of course, they’re also pretty far away from the clubhouse and most spectators.

17th Hole, Par 3, 205 yards
18th Hole, Par 4, 451 yards

This seems like the most logistically likely scenario. And while the 18th certainly gave us Payne’s moment in time, the par-3 17th has perhaps been even more instrumental in deciding Pinehurst’s U.S. Open champions. In 1999, Payne knocked it stiff to take a 1-shot lead over Phil Mickelson (see above). In 2005, Michael Campbell made birdie to slam the door, and in 2014, Michelle Wie made a rollicking birdie putt down the hill to clinch her major championship. Oh, and Tiger Woods bogeyed 17 on both Sundays in 1999 and 2005, ending his hopes. Big-time hole.

14th Hole, Par 4, 473 yards
13th Hole, Par 4, 315 yards

An idea first raised by Pinehurst resident and former PGA Tour player Darron Stiles, and it’s a beauty: Play the long par-4 14th, with its devilish green, then come back up the hill and play the 13th as a drivable par-4. (Ed Hardin of The Greensboro News-Record had the same thought within minutes of Darron.)

What a delicious idea. It works for proximity to the clubhouse, and the reverse routing of the two holes is extra cool. It’s one of the prettiest spots on No. 2 and features the widest expanse of sandscape and wiregrass. And that area as the sun is going down? Divine.

Throw in a front-right hole location on 13, and the potential for calamity is palpable. We like this one.

16th Hole, Par 4, 528 yards
18th Hole, Par 4, 451 yards

Keeps 18 in play, but includes one of the toughest holes not just on No. 2, but in U.S. Open history. And seeing the B-roll of Payne’s ridiculous save on 16 in 1999 never gets old (see above).

3rd Hole, Pinehurst No. 2

3rd Hole, Par 4, 320 yards
6th Hole, Par 3, 242 yards

Play the 3rd as a drivable par 4, and then walk over to play the 6th, one of the toughest greens and bunker complexes on No. 2. Here’s the beauty of this – the potential of someone going eagle-birdie and winning a two-hole aggregate with a score of FOUR. (A score of 9 or 10 isn’t out of the question, either.) Sure, it’s far away, but Deuces on the Deuce to win!

The Cradle*

Probably our most popular response when we posed the question. (Y’all really like The Cradle.) The options are seemingly endless here, so much so that we’re throwing out the two-hole aggregate. Options include:

  • Playing the entire 789-yard course. It only takes an hour for us to play, so let’s see the pros.
  • First ace on the Punchbowl, The Cradle’s 3rd hole, wins.
  • Want just two holes? Fine. Two holes, one club.

And finally:
On the 4th tee, a player can see all nine greens of The Cradle. Here’s the game: Each player gets nine golf balls and plays one shot to each green. A couple of greens are simple chip shots, though with greens running away from the player. Some would be 200 yards away. Champion is the player who hits the highest percentage of greens in regulation.

A ball-striker’s paradise.

And if there’s still a tie? Turn up the music.

Thistle Dhu awaits.

Have other ideas? We’d love to hear them. Comment below or tweet to us @PinehurstResort.

Leave a comment

At Pinehurst, USGA Championships always feel just around the corner

WRAL’s Jared Fialko visited Pinehurst recently and found that preparations are already under way for the next wave of USGA Championships:

Leave a comment

Pinehurst, and the next decade of championships

BY LEE PACE

With the official announcement that the USGA will conduct its fourth U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2 in June 2024, Pinehurst is set for a run of USGA events over the coming decade that further solidifies its place in championship golf.

In 2017 there is the U.S. Men’s Four-Ball Championship.

In 2019 there is the U.S. Amateur.

And then the Open five years later—yet another chapter that spans a story stretching more than a century, from Walter Hagen winning at Pinehurst in the 1920s to Ben Hogan crashing the victory barrier in 1940 to Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson collecting titles in the 1970s.

“There’s just so much history to this golf course,” Michelle Wie said in June 2014 after winning the U.S. Women’s Open. “And just the fact that I can be part of that history, it’s just so cool. I feel so honored to be part of that history. I think No. 2 is spectacular, and I think winning on the same golf course that Payne Stewart won means so much to me.” … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Why Pinehurst in 2024? The Golf Channel examines

“Morning Drive” on The Golf Channel asked the question a day following the USGA’s announcement that the U.S. Open would return to Pinehurst in 2024: Why Pinehurst?

Leave a comment