USGA’s Mike Davis admits course setup at Shinnecock went too far in Round 3

Jun 16, 2018; Southampton, NY, USA; Dustin Johnson lines up a putt on the eighteenth green during the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Shinnecock Hills GC - Shinnecock Hills Golf C. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

USGA’s Mike Davis admits course setup at Shinnecock went too far in Round 3

PGA Tour

USGA’s Mike Davis admits course setup at Shinnecock went too far in Round 3

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — There was just a tiny bit of good news for the U.S. Golf Association on Saturday.

They didn’t lose control of the seventh green!

But in a stunning, unimaginable repeat of the 2004 U.S. Open setup boondoggle on the sandy, windswept grounds, the USGA lost control of Shinnecock Hills. Again.

Even the USGA’s Mike Davis admitted things went too far, taking the blame for several hole locations that did not age well as Saturday’s third round turned from playable to freakish.

“No doubt, we would admit there were aspects of this setup that went too far,” Davis told Fox’s Joe Buck And Paul Azinger at the end of Saturday’s broadcast. “Well-executed shots were not only not rewarded, they were penalized.”

The third round imploded Saturday in crazy difficult, borderline conditions where multiple hole locations appeared to backfire.

The USGA setup team, along with the dedicated Shinnecock crew, prepared the course as they had hoped. I can attest having walked nearly half the holes with them this morning. They were a confident bunch and proud to be presenting a firmer, but still very playable test.

“We felt really good about where the golf course was,” Davis told Fox. “We missed it with the wind. It blew harder than we thought it was going to blow.”

Conditions performed as the USGA’s on-site forecasters ThorGuard predicted: breezes of 10-15 mph with gusts to 15-20 mph from 4 pm on, though the highest gust in the area was recorded at 21 mph. Contrary to Davis’ assertion, the gusts did not regularly exceed the forecast.

While temperatures reached the numbers they were expected to reach (81 degrees), it became clear by the discoloration and firmness that Shinnecock once again proved impossible to keep at green speeds matching the strong contours.

Justin Rose said he hadn’t “seen a course change that quickly” from Round 2 to Round 3.

“I’m surprised it got there this quick,” he said.

Unlike the 2004 setup team, Davis admitted error.

“We want the U.S. Open to be tough, we want it to be a complete test,” Davis said. “It was a taie of two golf courses.”

That two players who teed off more than four hours before the leaders are Saturday night’s co-leaders suggests not everyone played the same course. The first five groups, the players least on their game, averaged 73.2. The final five groups with the leaders averaged 76.7.

The tired old “everyone played the same golf course” excuse often wielded by past committees, was proven to be statistically invalid. Not everyone in the field got a fair shake at Shinnecock on Saturday. Righting that ship, with modern green speeds, dry winds continuing and a nearly identical forecast Sunday, will require herculean amount of water, judgment and luck to prevent the 2018 U.S. Open from looking just like the last edition played here.

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