USGA Champs Ogilvy, Flanagan,
O'Meara Among Players Getting Early Glimpse Of 2008
U.S. Open Venue
By Ken Klavon, USGA
San Diego - All three are former champions, their
careers illuminated at various times by winning USGA
They are here this week at Torrey Pines Golf Club for
dissimilar reasons, yet each is tangentially tied to the
U.S. Open, which will be played on the South Course this
June. One and all, Mark O'Meara, Geoff Ogilvy and Nick
Flanagan, are representatives of the past, present and
But no matter where they currently stand in their
careers, the lure of competing in the 2008 Open weighed
heavily on their minds Tuesday as they prepared for
Thursday's start of the PGA Tour's Buick
"Yeah, sure," said Australia's Ogilvy, 30,
winner of the U.S. Open two years ago at Winged Foot Golf
Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y. "It's a scouting
|PGA Tour rookie Nick Flanagan, the
2003 U.S. Amateur champion, is hoping to return to
Torrey Pines this June for the 2008 U.S. Open. (USGA
That wasn't an intended swipe at the Buick
Invitational. It is just that golf success seems to be
measured by major victories.
Or any wins at all.
The 23-year-old Flanagan, more than four years removed
from his U.S. Amateur win at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club,
has captained a pro career that sputtered out of the gate
until he rediscovered his game on the Nationwide Tour last
year. En route to winning player of the year honors, the
Australian became just the eighth player in the Nationwide
Tour's history to earn an immediate three-victory
promotion to the PGA Tour.
"I really haven't changed much at all,"
said Flanagan, alluding to the technique that carried him
past current Nationwide Tour player Casey Wittenberg in the
2004 Amateur final.
His rookie PGA Tour campaign has started a bit rocky
with missed cuts at the Sony Open in Hawaii and last
week's Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in Palm Springs,
Calif. Mentioning a U.S. Open that is almost five months
away doesn't quite register, although Flanagan is well
aware of its location. "I'm not thinking about the
majors," he said, adding that his most gnawing issue
is finding consistency on a weekly basis.
For the 51-year-old O'Meara, who grew up in southern
California and attended Long Beach State, 2008 is a last
hurrah of sorts. The 1979 U.S. Amateur champion received a
sponsor's exemption this week with one eye on the U.S.
Open. The two-time major winner (1998 Masters and British
Open) had a seamless transformation last year to the
50-and-over Champions Tour, making 16 starts. But his golf
interest has noticeably waned this decade, as he has
immersed himself in other interests like fly-fishing and
"I don't know where I belong in golf now,"
said O'Meara. "But, I thought this year since the
Open is going to be here this summer . I'm going to try
and qualify maybe one more time. I said last year after I
tried to qualify maybe that was it."
|With the 2008 U.S. Open coming to
Torrey Pines, 1979 U.S. Amateur champion and two-time
major winner Mark O'Meara hopes to qualify one last
time. (USGA Photo Archives)|
It is uncommon that a venue hosts two professional
events - one of those a major - in the same calendar year.
A few courses including Pebble Beach have done it, but most
don't want the stress and strain. Ten years ago,
Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., had the
PGA Tour move its regularly-scheduled event to Valencia
Country Club because it had the 1998 U.S. Senior Open.
The benefit for Ogilvy is that he won't have to make
a separate trip to see the South Course. Last year, having
never been to Oakmont, he paid the club a special visit a
few weeks prior to the Open to get a feel for what to
expect. That said, players clearly know that the South
Course they see this week will play diametrically different
than the one in June. This week, soft conditions will be
prevalent; in June, with a heavy dose of constant sun, the
course will firm up and green speeds are expected to be
around 13 on the Stimpmeter. This week, the greens will
roll around 9 to 10 feet on the Stimpmeter.
In addition, the pars and yardages will be different.
For the Buick, the South Course will play 7,568 yards and
to a par of 72. According to Mike Davis, the USGA's
Senior Director of Rules and Competitions, the South will
be set up as a 7,643-yard par-71 layout for the Open, with
the par-5 sixth converted to a long par 4.
O'Meara is here to at least make mental notes - just
of the South Course since the neighboring and shorter North
Course (it is utilized for the first two days of the Buick)
won't be used during the Open.
With a major win that represents 33 percent of his
career victories (three), Ogilvy plans on absorbing as much
as possible. Sure he'll be trying to win this week, but
that elusive second major stands as the annoying bee that
won't go away, maybe even more so than the first time
it circled his head.
"I'll tell you later on," said Ogilvy
chuckling, "after I win my second."
Ken Klavon is the USGA's Editor in New Media.
E-mail him with questions or comments at