- US PGA Championship
Oak Hill confident greens will hit right standards
Jeff Corcoran's phone "blew up" in the hours after Tiger Woods' comments Wednesday about the greens at Oak Hill Country Club, site of next week's PGA Championship.
And because Corcoran is the superintendent for the club that is hosting one of the biggest tournaments in the world, he is fully aware of the challenge ahead in trying to get the greens to the level expected at a major championship.
"This is the toughest summer I've ever had," said Corcoran, in his 10th year at the prestigious club that has hosted numerous major championships.
Woods visited Oak Hill, where he tied for 39th at the 2003 PGA Championship, on Tuesday and said the greens were "spotty" and slow.
"They don't have much thatch to them, so it'll be interesting to see what they do for the tournament and how much they're able to speed them up with kind of a lack of grass," he said.
Woods did speculate that the club was saving the greens for the PGA Championship.
"In regards to Tiger's latter comments, he hit it right on the head. We were trying to give the greens a rest before we head into a very stressful week," Corcoran said. "When he was here [Tuesday], we were playing defense. We didn't mow that day, didn't roll [the greens] that day. We've had an extremely tough summer.
"You don't tell a marathon runner to go out and run a marathon just before you run a marathon, especially when you know you've had a stressful summer. We'll have the green speeds up; they'll roll fine. The only area that will affect playability is the front right of the eighth green on the East Course."
That is where a huge tree fell on the front of the green during a storm early last month. Corcoran said the course has had 15 inches of rain since mid-May; a creek that runs through it has flooded five times; and there has been uncommon heat in recent weeks. The July storm produced 2.1 inches of rain in 30 minutes and "destroyed every bunker we have," he said.
"I'm sure [the greens] not as good as they'd like them to be," said Graeme McDowell, who visited Oak Hill on Monday. "They seemed to have lost the surface a little bit. I thought they putted well, but there's not a lot of base to them. They're going to be very soft and like [Woods] said, they're probably not going to be very fast. The rest of the course is immaculate. It's disappointing that -- whatever happened with the weather -- they haven't got the greens as pristine as they'd like, unfortunately. But it's going to be a great test."
The greens at Oak Hill are a form of bent grass that is common in the Midwest and northern climates. But as Corcoran said, "Extreme heat and wet soil conditions is trouble."
Corcoran said the plan is to double-cut and roll the greens during the weekend and work to get them up to major championship speeds. He said aesthetically - aside from that one portion of the eighth green - most players and spectators will not notice a difference.