Greetings from sunny San Francisco.
How many times can you say (or write) that? Particularly with all the rain that has fallen in the Augusta area since Sunday, forgive me if I gloat about the nice weather at this week's U.S. Open.
I arrived Monday and did the required tourist things: ride a cable car, visit Fisherman's Wharf, walk around the vibrant downtown area. This isn't my first visit to the Bay Area, and I hope it's not my last.
Today was my first look at Olympic Club, and the course looks spectacular. I had heard the fairways were narrow, the greens small and the rough deep, but you can't appreciate that until you see it up close. I can imagine the USGA isn't going to allow a repeat of last year, when Rory McIlroy overwhelmed Congressional.
The course if full of players getting in practice rounds. Some are opting only to play eight or 10 holes; allow me to explain. Because of the proximity of the ninth tee to the clubhouse, the U.S. Open is altering the usual dual tee from 1 and 10. Instead, they are using 1 and 9. We'll see if there is a logjam on Thursday and Friday.
It's doubtful if any of the players will put in as much work as Jack Fleck did prior to winning the 1955 U.S. Open at Olympic. Fleck visited the media center this morning, and he told of playing 44 holes a day for many of his practice rounds. He would play two full 18-hole loops, then 1-8 for good measure.
Billy Casper, who defeated Arnold Palmer in 1966 at Olympic, also is here. After his session with the media, Casper came back to see Tiger Woods in the media center. He approached Woods and gave him an extended hug before Tiger sat down to take questions.
The media center has been busy as this is the main day for interviews with top players. Masters champ Bubba Watson came in, as did Rory McIlroy.
Olympic has a reputation as being a "graveyard" for favorites, so keep that in mind as the action unfolds this week. If Tiger, Bubba or Rory can't get the job done, there are plenty of interesting golfers to root for. Like 14-year-old Andy Zhang, who wasn't even born when Woods won the 1997 Masters in record fashion.
Or Casey Martin, who qualified 14 years after he made national headlines at Olympic in 1998 over his right to use a cart.
That's the great thing about Tuesdays before a major. No one has been eliminated yet, and most are full of optimism. It should be a fun week.