Scoring is missing at the majors

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BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. --- Justin Leonard is among 11 players who have made the cut in all four majors this year, but he holds one dubious distinction among such a select group.

He is the only one who has never been under par after any round.

Leonard has been steady, although not spectacular. Going into the third round of the PGA Championship, he had played 14 rounds in the majors this year and was a combined 30-over. He has matched par only four times.

Welcome to the new world of majors.

For those who complained that Augusta National Golf Club had taken the fun out of the Masters Tournament, that might be the major this year that produced the most birdies.

Trevor Immelman finished at 8-under 280 for a three-shot victory over Tiger Woods.

And the U.S. Open's reputation as being the toughest test in golf? It very well could be the easiest. Woods shot 30 on his back nine of the second round, made two eagles over the final six holes in the third round, and forced a playoff with Rocco Mediate at 1-under 283.

Padraig Harrington won the British Open -- survived might be the better choice of words -- at 3-over 283, but only after producing 32 on his final nine holes at Royal Birkdale to outlast Justin Rose.

J.B. Holmes was the sole survivor to par at Oakland Hills after 36 holes, at 1-under 139. Unless the PGA of America uses the tees from the club championship, empties the Detroit River onto the greens, and borrows every lawn mower in Michigan to shrink the rough, no one expects the winner to be in red numbers.

If that's the case, it will be the first time since 1956 -- and the first time that all four majors were stroke play -- that a score of 280 or higher won every major.

So much for that theory of the PGA Championship being the one major that invited good scoring.

The PGA of America has accentuated Oakland Hills' toughest features. The rough already is so dense that it doesn't need to cover shoelaces to be penal. Golf balls sink to the bottom, and the penalty is even more severe because workers have been dragging rakes through the grass away from the hole, making it stand even taller.

The rough is unavoidable because the fairways are tilted and firm, nearly impossible to hold.

After all that, players reach greens that have slopes so severe they at times have to putt sideways to get the ball curving toward the hole. The putting surfaces have been so firm and crusty that some players said they could see footprints.

Justin Leonard: The American has made the cut at all four of this year's majors, which makes his 30-over total in the events shocking.


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