The Hole Story
It wouldn't be a U.S. Open if the players didn't whine about the course, but there was an abnormally high number of complaints about the pin placements at Oakland Hills. Here are a couple suitable for the family.
"When I putted out on 18, I had to look in the cup to make sure the ball wasn't going to go underground to the pro shop," said John Huston. "I kept hitting the windmill, and it kept kicking it back out."
Said Mark O'Meara, who had to play for 25 feet of break on a 40-footer he had on the 9th hole: "If I made that putt, I should have gotten a free game." (Not to worry. O'Meara four-putted.)
Does this after-the-fact complaining do any good? Maybe. A move is afoot among Tour players to have some of their rules officials help a five-person USGA committee set the pins at future Opens. At least one member of the committee, Tom Meeks, the director of rules and competitions, is willing to consider such a change. Meeks admits that one of his placements, the 17th on Thursday, was unfair. But he adds that 95% of the pins at Oakland Hills were no different in 1996 than in 1985.
"I can take the potshots, and I can take the heat," says Meeks. "That's what you have to do when you're in this position. But I think if the PGA Tour field staff would have set them, they would have received the same criticism. Those were the hardest greens in the world to set holes on. I thought we did as good a job as we could with a difficult coif course."