Iain Carter's US Open Diary
Here's a good idea. Let's get the world's best golfers together but take away pretty much every opportunity they have to demonstrate their ability to control the ball.
In other words take a golf ball, add a lump of mud and ask a player to hit it where they want it to go through the wind and rain. That's what the USGA are doing here at Bethpage, home of the 2009 running of their national championship.
Of course, you can't do anything about the weather - if it's coming in sideways, that's all part of the game. But when the fairways are soft the balls get covered by random amounts of mud.
Thereafter those Titleists, Callaways, Taylor Mades and Srixons might as well be those coloured spheres with numbers that bounce about in boxes on Wednesday and Saturday nights because it becomes a lottery.
And it's an unnecessary lottery that infuriates the players because it can be rectified so easily, but suggest a policy of lift, clean and place to a USGA official and you'll see the colour drain from their face. "No, no, no" is the stock response.
We're playing the US Open on a rain-sodden course with an 18th hole that's built on a swamp, so how on earth does refusing this simple procedure impede the integrity of the championship? It doesn't.
All the current rules achieve is to make highly-skilled practitioners see shots go sideways through no fault of their own. It also brings forward the moment when play has to be called off and delays the time when golf can recommence.
The US Open would lose no prestige if placing was introduced.
That's becoming the view of Nicklaus, who has long since been coming to terms with the prospect. Woods is currently on 14 majors - four behind the Golden Bear.
Woods said this week that Nicklaus is the greatest golfer of all time, by virtue of his 18 majors. "I think he is being very humble and very respectful to me," Nicklaus said in response. "He doesn't want to say anything he probably shouldn't say as it relates to my record."
Nicklaus went on to reveal a conversation he had with Woods in the immediate aftermath of the world number one's stellar victory at Jack's Memorial Tournament a fortnight ago.
"I saw him on the putting green and said: 'Why don't you just go ahead and get this thing over with, so that I don't have to sit around and wait so long to worry about it?'" the 69-year-old Nicklaus said.
"I think he probably will (break the record), but he's still got to do it.
"Nobody wants their record to be broken, but if it's gonna be broken you want it to be someone really good doing it. And he's really good."
As I write these words, Tiger has just double-bogeyed the 5th, although it wasn't a mud-ball to blame, just a wild tee-shot.
Interesting strategy for this week from two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen. "If I had any club that could go further, I'd put that in," he said. "But actually, I've put in an extra wedge.
"I figure that if I miss the fairways I'm going to be laying up a lot, so maybe a wedge can save me a few strokes."
Masters champion Angel Cabrera will surely be happy with the announcement that the US Open will be going back to Oakmont for a record ninth time. The Argentine won his first major at the Pittsburgh course in 2007.
It is typically regarded as the toughest of the US Open venues and it will stage the 2016 championship.
Let's hope married life helps his frustratingly fragile fitness and restores his golf game to make him a Ryder Cup contender once more.
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