The first two rounds of the U.S. Women's Open are the slowest a tour pro will ever play. I knew my group was going to be in for a marathon day at the 1991 Open at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth when we had to wait 45 minutes on the 4th tee. By the time we had reached the 14th hole, I was frustrated and bored, so I made a political statement. I spotted a bank of pay phones and sent my caddie over to order a pizza from Domino's, since it was clear we were going to be on the course well past dinnertime. I told him to tell the driver that in 45 minutes he should be able to find us on the 17th tee. True to Domino's mission statement, he was there waiting for us with a piping hot large cheese pie.
I blame most of the slow play on the players, not the USGA. Hello, ladies, can we hurry it up? Playing in the Open is like driving to the Hamptons for the weekend and getting stuck on the Long Island Expressway—a beautiful journey ruined.
One way that the USGA keeps the Open genuinely open is by having sectional qualifiers of only 18 holes (the men play 36). Many players enter the qualifier just for the experience, never really entertaining the thought of playing in the Open. When they make it, they are out of their league, and they're paralyzed by fear. The fact that everyone in the huge field tees off only on the 1st hole means that one slow group can cause a traffic jam of epic proportions.
Nevertheless, my greatest memories, besides winning the '89 Circle K, are playing in the Open. (I tied for third in '84.) I won't be at Old Waverly in West Point, Miss., this week, but here's some advice for my former colleagues: Put Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full in your bag. It's more than 700 pages long, but trust me, you'll have time to read 'em all.