USGA doesn’t make things easy for its players
The USGA was up to its new tricks yesterday, moving up several tees to places where players did not practice. It not only made the holes shorter, it changed the angle of attack off the tee.
There was nothing drastic like the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, where the 14th hole could play 435 yards or 277 yards. But the tee markers were moved up 36 yards on the tough 17th, making it play 405 yards. Tees also were moved up 25 yards on the 10th and 19 yards on the 13th, both par 5s.
The idea behind No. 17 was to allow players to take on the bunkers down the left side, and it sure did make a difference.
Annika Sorenstam decided to hit driver, but she pulled it left and hit a tree before it fell into the deep rough. Her next shot clipped a tree again, leaving her in the rough. From there, the Swede did well to knock it onto the green and two-putt from 60 feet for a bogey.
Paula Creamer, who is much shorter than Sorenstam off the tee, played a 3-wood to the right side of the fairway, a long iron onto the green and two-putted from 18 feet.
"When the tee is in the back, nobody can carry the bunker on the left," Sorenstam said. "I don't know if you saw the pin today, but it's tucked way back there on the left. And if you are not way out to right - which then, you put the bunker and the rough into play - you don't have a good angle in. It's one of those holes you have to be smart, but conservative."
The idea on the 10th and 13th holes was to make players think about going for the green in two. The pin was back right on the 10th, bringing an oak tree and the pond to the right into play. Sorenstam drilled a 3-wood to 20 feet and two-putted for eagle.
Sorenstam and Suzann Pettersen both hit 3-wood off the tee on the 504-yard 13th. Creamer hit driver, then a fairway metal that ran across the fairway but well short of the water. That left her a sand wedge to the green.
"The golf course played totally different than it did yesterday," Creamer said. "A lot of tees moved up. We'll see how it is tomorrow."
Finland's Minea Blomqvist shot a 4-under 69 yesterday to climb into second place. If the 23-year-old can't manage to carve a career out as a golfer, she can always rely on her caddying skills to pay the bills.
Blomqvist hasn't played since the McDonald's LPGA Championship in the first week in June because she has been spending her time caddying for fiancee Roope Kakko on the Challenge Tour in Europe.
"I'm a perfect caddie," Blomqvist said with a smile. "You know, I have like two top-10s as a caddie. So if this doesn't work out, I'll go for that."
With his girlfriend caddying for him, Kakko finished tied for seventh at the Open de Saint Omer two weeks ago, earning Blomqvist a nice little commission from the $20,124 purse.
"Of course, you know," Blomqvist said with another giggle. "I'm not cheap."
The pair has been dating for seven years now, despite the surname Blomqvist is set to inherit. Kakko, she said, is a Finnish word for a rather dubious bodily function.
"You should feel bad for me about this surname because it's not very nice," she said. "So I'm not very happy about that, if we're going to stay together."
Speaking of translations, an irreverent Blomqvist was asked about the contention by Swedes that Finns talk funny. She didn't hesitate to fire back.
"Swedes are so good in golf because in golf you need an empty mind, and there's nothing going on in their heads," Blomqvist said playfully. "So that's why they play good."
Bird's eye view
Norm Lane and his wife drove 10 hours from Wichita, Kan., to watch the tournament from the front lawn of their daughter and son-in-law's home on the right side of the fifth hole.
Lane got a great view of former Punahou standout Michelle Wie, who yanked her tee shot into the deep rough on No. 5, barely 10 feet from where Lane was sitting in his lawn chair, sipping a cold beer.
"My wife said, 'Look at that gal,"' Lane said. "I said, that's Michelle!"
Wie is one of Lane's favorites, and it's true what they say about real estate - the three most important factors when buying a home are location, location, location.
"I'm glad it rained," Lane said. "It helped us see some of the big shots."