Stuff like this puts a smile on Matt Shaffer's face.
"I think that anybody in that commentary box has never given this golf course enough respect," golfer Ian Poulter said following his first round today in the 113th U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club. "They were joking around, laughing at 63s and 62s (some of the scores that had been predicted) and just look at the board.
"I mean they need to respect this golf course.It's brutal. The rough's thick, and you get into some of those greens ... they're still running 13 even though we had a downpour today. It's easy to let the ball get away from you."
Shaffer, director of golf course operations, wanted fast and firm all along on a course that by today's standards is rather short at 6,996 yards. Despite 6 inches of rain the past week, it still looks like he got it. Just ask golfer Rickie Fowler, who said the course plays "more like 7,400 or 7,500 yards." Only two of 78 players that completed their round when play was suspended at 8:19 p.m. shot under par (Phil Mickelson, 3-under-par 67 and Nicolas Colsaerts fired a 69).
"I think it'll be hard for them to figure out the pace," Shaffer tells GCM. "These greens are extremely fast."
Then they'll be back at it early tomorrow morning. The weather is supposed to cooperate, which gives Shaffer another chance to make the course firmer and faster, at least to his standards. By Saturday night, you get the feeling he is convinced the course will have become so firm that USGA Executive Director Mike Davis may just ask him to soften it a tad to make it a fair test.
"I guarantee you we'll be watering Saturday night," Shaffer, pictured here, says with a big grin.
Surely, what golfer Charl Schwartzel had to say would fuel Shaffer's charge even more.
"It's a lot tougher than what they say it is," Schwartzel said.