BBC BLOGS - Iain Carter
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Do we want more major grind?

Iain Carter | 17:37 UK time, Friday, 8 August 2008

So was Lee Westwood right? Have the PGA of America "sucked the fun" out of the final major of the year? I think he has a point.

Analysing the 2008 US PGA so far I'm struggling to think of much to set the pulse racing - Padraig Harrington's tee shot that hit the pin on the par three third in the first round is about as far as it goes.

Then I thought it might just be me, bio rhythms out of synch - something of that nature - that had perhaps diminished my enthusiasm.

It's not often I feel this way at a big tournament, but I actually thought the first round was probably the worst I've encountered at a major.

Then I picked up the local newspaper to find that I'm not alone in feeling this wave of negativity.

There's no shortage of competing stories at the moment - particularly in these parts where the local mayor has just been thrown in the clink.

And it's all reflected on the front page of the Detroit Free Press's PGA pull out - as it reports: "With Tiger missing in action, unknowns taking the lead, a weather delay and mayor's jail time dominating the news, the first round was one of the most forgettable in major history."

A nice way to sell your championship supplement!

They have a point though. I'm writing this listening to Five Live's excellent coverage of the Olympic flame being lit. It's not often at a major I want to be elsewhere.

westwood438.jpg

I glance at the computerised leaderboard in front of me - they've been playing here for four and half hours and none of the early starters have sustained a sojourn into the red numbers that denote a score below par.

It's golfing attrition. There are few cheers as the players grind away on a congested leaderboard trying to counter a fresh breeze and brutal rough cut too close to the slender fairways.

As Padraig Harrington stated before the event - this US PGA feels more like a US Open than the US Open did.

And that's because the USGA got it dead right at Torrey Pines, with their graded rough that sought to punish the more wayward drivers.

We want the best players tested and we expect and accept that the US Open will try to be the toughest of the lot.

If the wind blows at the Open - as it did at Birkdale - that's okay too. It's how golf is meant to be and the course was set up accordingly.

The Masters is criticised for toughening up Augusta too much - we don't get the roars that we used to - but I suspect we would have done had the wind not blown so severely as it did on the final day this year.

We've had three severe major tests this year and all for the right reasons. We didn't need another this week.

This is not to advocate some kind of pushover for the players - but some balance, so that a course they call "The Monster" could be tamed.

Is this "Tiger proofing" gone mad? Maybe and he's not here anyway.

The breeze is up today - it's anyone's Championship and we may get a compelling weekend because the leaderboard is so congested.

Let's hope it's a slow burn week building to a thrilling climax.

It would certainly help if the PGA can bring themselves to allow some inviting pins that might produce some birdies, cheers and atmosphere.

Not many of us here are holding our breath.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I think the USPGA got scared, knew they were up against the Olympics and thought that by toughening things up, they might create a bit of a story and a bit of tournament buzz. It's backfired at the moment as it instead of being called tough, it's getting called dull. But come Sunday, when two guys are coming down the stretch there's gonna be some very twitchy drives to hit and it should be compelling. Maybe if we do start to see the USPGA as being US Open tough, it'll rise in peoples estimations.

    http://pgatourist.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 2.

    Interesting. 606-ers have pointed out that players have gone on birdie binges but their progress forward has, so far, tended to become undone. So, given Holmes's and Karlsson's performances, a 66 or two are out there.

    The PGA have an excellent record of making their tracks playable, so wouldn't be a surprise here if conditions were somehow moderated for the weekend.

    Surprised at the comments vis-a-vis the Olympics; in my part of the U.S. the Olympics have generated little or no buzz except for interminable promotion by NBC.

    Personally, don't think the two are in competition here in any way whatsoever.

  • Comment number 3.

    I agree with your comments regarding this week's play but I'm also of the opinion, and have been for some time, that the USPGA should be scrapped as a major altogether!

    The US and British Opens are phenomenal tournaments with their "open" format for entry and the Masters is ebbed in history being played on the same course that we know and love every year. However, how many majors do they need in the US?

    I believe that this major should be replaced by a "World Open" that is played in different countries outside of the UK and US every year. With golf becoming more and more global, this would be a far more exciting prospect having a major played in, say, Japan, Australia or a European country. This would serve to enhance the appeal of the game, create an extra "buzz" for those players from the hosting nation and would generally be in keeping with where the game is going.

    It is also a rarity for those outside of the US and UK to get the chance to see their golfing idols, with very few Americans choosing to only leave the US for one week in July every year to come to the UK.

    Obviously this would displease the PGA enough for it to never happen as the USPGA is a nice earner for them but it would be a more fitting major that reflects the development of the game on the global scale...

  • Comment number 4.

    Oak Hills certainly hasn't been "Tiger-proofed" since the original design was 7200 yds in length and the greens are original. It has been lengthened by 200 yds in the last 20 years...but it remains with Oakmont and Pine Valley as arguably the toughest test in USA golf courses. By raking the rough towards the teeing ground and away from the pins is the USPGA's version of waterboarding....tortuous!!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    I've watched more cricket in the past couple of days than I have in all my life.

    It appears England have a South African captaining them.
    Could this be an omen for England's South African born golfing superstar.

    When Tiger packed the clubs away in June and let the rest of the players know their were two majors up for grabs for the remainder of the year.

    Padraig Harrington was the first to step up to the plate.

    It wouldn't be a surprise if it was a Major winner that adds to their Major Haul come Sunday night.

  • Comment number 6.

    Why is it that we have no information about what's happening at Oaklands, all I can see is Tiger winning the US Open...big deal...when is Justin teeing off that's want I want to know.
    Another thing, why were the Americans complaining about the 17th green at Birkdale when the 17th at Oaklands is on another planet in degree of difficulty...a good example of getting your retaliation in first....stroll on Valhalla

  • Comment number 7.

    You say the first round was 'probably the worst I've encountered'. Forgive me, but there was a time when BBC correspondents were required to express themselves with lucidity.

 

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