Friday, June 16
"Contrary to popular opinion," said Eger, "there are no sadistic motives behind how we set up a golf course for the U.S. Open. We want it to play fair. And we want it to play more or less the same all four days."
Eger tours the course the evening before each round, setting hole and tee locations for the next day. He sprays white paint to mark where the grounds crew will, later that night, cut the holes and place the tee markers.
Pin placements are made using a numerical system. Each green has several hole locations, usually in different parts of the green, which are ranked from one to four, with one being the most difficult. The sum of the 18 hole-ratings for one round is, ideally, 45. Last week the ratings were 47, 46, 43 and 44, respectively, on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Eger, who won the USGA's Mid-Amateur championship in 1988, always takes a putter and three balls so he can make a few putts to be sure, as he says, "that the ball doesn't roll in any drastic manners near the hole. If it does, I need to move the hole a few feet to a flatter spot, but always in the same vicinity."
The 7th green, the par-3 Redan, has no flat locations. "This green will wreak havoc no matter where I put the hole," said Eger while surveying its wily slopes. "Today the pin was back left, the easiest spot, and [Hale] Irwin still putted it off the green. The only green in the country I've seen that's harder to find a fair pin position on is the par-4 13th at Pebble Beach."
Saturday, June 17
"There are two types of officials," according to the old adage, "those who've made mistakes and those who will." Trey Holland is definitely in the former category. At last year's Open at Oakmont, Holland made the most famous rulings mistake anyone can remember when he allowed the eventual winner, Ernie Els, to drop from behind a TV crane on the 1st hole on Sunday instead of having the crane moved.
Holland, a 45-year-old urologist from Indiana who is the chairman of the USGA's rules committee, was blasted in the media, and he doesn't deny his blunder. "I picked a really bad time to make the mistake," he said as he set out to referee Saturday's final pair, Greg Norman and Jumbo Ozaki. "It made me sick to my stomach. It was a mistake, and I take responsibility."
Today Holland had two delicate situations. The first was on the 12th hole, when Ozaki's drive landed next to an anthill in the rough. Ozaki wanted to take a drop. But according to rule 23 in The Rules of Golf, an anthill is a loose impediment. Holland made the right call: He allowed Ozaki to remove the anthill but not to take a drop. "Jumbo was hoping it was a burrowing animal hole," said Holland after explaining the ruling to a Japanese reporter, who was following Ozaki during the round. "Then he would have gotten a drop."