US Open: USGA says it is 'critical' that tournament passes without incident
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 12/06/19 10:28pm
The United States Golf Association is confident this week's US Open will be free of the controversies that have blighted the tournament many times in recent years.
Mike Davis, in particular, has attracted widespread criticism on a regular basis following problems with various course set-ups - most notably at Shinnecock Hills and Chambers Bay, while he was also blamed for the final-round fiasco involving Dustin Johnson at Oakmont in 2016.
The USGA chief executive officer will not be in charge of this week's course set-up at Pebble Beach, with that responsibility now falling on the organisation's managing director of championships, John Bodenhamer.
And at their pre-tournament press conference, Bodenhamer admitted it was "critical" that the 119th edition of the tournament passes without incident, although he insisted that players will still face "the ultimate test".
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"We're going into this week with a great plan, and part of that plan is to do what we've always done," said Bodenhamer.
"Our philosophy has not changed. We will continue to provide the toughest test, the ultimate test, the most comprehensive test, whatever you want to call it, and really just to create something where players' shot-making ability, mental resolve, physical stamina are tested.
"We're not going to lose that. It has been something that we've done for many years and will continue to do that. We think we're creating something special, and we don't want to lose that.
"Certainly, we looked at what happened on Saturday at Shinnecock last year, we dug deep into that, we understand it. And we didn't have enough water on the greens on the back nine the last year, simple as that.
"We looked at that and we've got safeguards in place this year. No guarantees, there are no promises, and the weather can change here on the Monterey Peninsula. But we feel good about the plan, we feel good about the strategy going in, and we have a few safeguards in place that we'll proactively use if we need them should the weather dictate."
When asked how important it was to have a "smooth" US Open this week, Bodenhamer added: "I think it's critical. I think we've talked about it all year long, and it's important not only for the USGA but for the game and what we do for the game.
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"We will follow what the architect intended with that true test in the way the golf course is presenting both on the putting greens and the fairways. Pebble Beach is such a wonderful place with what we try to accomplish in achieving a tough test.
"We are endeavouring to set up and play a US Open as the US Open has always been at Pebble Beach and just let history unfold, as it always has, and it will take care of itself."
Davis revealed a number of players had been consulted regarding the course set-up ahead of this year's US Open, although he was reluctant to comment on reports that leading stars were considering a boycott of the event following the treatment of Johnson three years ago.
"It is not lost on us this is an important week, not only for golf, this is an important week for the USGA," said Davis. "And clearly there's been a lot written to date about that. I will say that we have been doing a great deal of listening.
"We've been talking to a lot of the players. There's been a lot of strategic planning going on the last year plus just to make sure that we continue to improve this important championship.
"I will also say that this championship is not only important for the US Open and the USGA, but, folks, this is really important for the game of golf."
And on the reports from Golf Digest of a possible player boycott, he added: "I read that but we have decided to take the high road on it. We are focusing on this week and feel it's in everyone's best interest to move forward."