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Last Updated: Monday, 13 June, 2005, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
US Open course set up 'fairly'
By Rob Hodgetts

Pinehurst Resort, venue of the 2005 US Open
Pinehurst's No.2 course also hosted the US Open in 1999
Pinehurst's head greenskeeper has soothed fears that the US Open will again become a lottery because of a brutally tough course set-up.

Last year's event at Shinnecock Hills teetered on the brink of chaos with sun and wind rendering some greens so fast as to be almost unplayable.

But Paul Jett told BBC Sport: "They're two completely different courses with different grasses and environments.

"With the humidity here there will always be some moisture in the ground."

The 105th US Open takes place at Pinehurst, North Carolina, on the same inland tree-lined course which hosted the event six years ago, won by the late Payne Stewart.

This golf course is not going to beat you up on length
Pinehurst head greenkeeper Paul Jett

The tournament is organised by the United States Golf Association, which aims to make the event "the most rigorous, yet fair examination of golf skills, testing all forms of shot-making".

The USGA provides the greens staff with directions on course preparation based on 14 different factors, and Jett, course superintendent for Pinehurst No.2, anticipates another favourable reception.

"I've had no discussion with anyone at the USGA that's indicated that we'll do anything different to what we did in 1999 and we know how that worked out," said Jett.

"The set-up is pretty much the same and there's no reason we shouldn't have an excellent championship.

"The last 10 days have been excellent for the growth of the Bermuda grass in the rough and on the fairways.

Tiger Woods waits on the seventh tee at Shinnecock Hills
This is not the way it's supposed to be
Tiger Woods laments at Shinnecock 'Hell'

"We couldn't have asked for anything better than what we got. We have had just enough rain not to have to turn on any irrigation systems but yet everything is still fairly firm. Right now the golf course is really good."

Twelve months ago, the conditions on the exposed Shinnecock Hills layout on New York's Long Island, allied to the USGA's decision to roll some greens before play, produced surfaces so slick that putts rolled off them and perfect tee shots were unable to hold.

The green at the short seventh had to be watered during the final round to avoid making a mockery of the world's best players.

"If it's an exam paper, they're asking you a question that there's no answer to," said Lee Westwood at the time.

Jett said he "does not believe" a similar situation will happen this year, but added that Pinehurst's No.2 course (out of eight) is not a typical US Open layout.

It has similar tight fairways but the rough is not penal, and the dome-like greens form the main defence, surrounded by close-cropped grass, placing an emphasis on accurate irons and a top-class short game.

"This golf course is not going to beat you up on length, it's going to beat you up from the middle of the fairway into the green," said Jett.

But he revealed it would not be the most difficult course the players encountered during the season.

"It'll be considerably tougher than a weekly USPGA Tour event just because of the firmness of the greens, the narrowness of the fairways and the length of rough," he said.

"But probably not the toughest - it'll be in the hardest top five courses they play.

"It all depends on the weather. If the weather cooperates - and by that I mean no rain - and we can control the course and have it play firm, fast and be a fair test then we'll all be happy."




SEE ALSO
US Open groupings and times
10 Jun 05 |  Golf


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