Seventh turns virtually unplayable

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- The seventh green at Shinnecock Hills was so hard to play for the first two groups Sunday morning that USGA officials decided to water it between every pairing for the final round of the U.S. Open.

It made things better -- there were no more triple bogeys -- but the famous Redan hole was a diabolical test.

Walter Driver, chairman of the USGA Championship Committee, made the decision to water the greens after the first four players took three triple bogeys and a bogey at the seventh. Earlier Sunday, Driver and his top lieutenants decided to move the hole location on the seventh to what Driver described as its "most benign" location.

The hole location on the par-3 11th hole also was moved to a spot that Driver called "among the easier available."

The seventh hole had minimal effect on the final outcome. Among the leaders, Retief Goosen and Phil Mickelson made par Sunday, as did Jeff Maggert. Shigeki Maruyama and Ernie Els made bogey.

USGA officials don't often water greens during play. The last time was at The Olympic Club in San Francisco in 1998, when several players, including Payne Stewart, putted off the 18th green. But after several players -- including Mickelson and Maruyama -- putted off the seventh green at Shinnecock on Saturday, Driver said the USGA would meet at 8 a.m. ET Sunday to monitor the situation.

They decided to move the hole location (from seven paces on and and seven from the right to nine paces on and 10 from the right), but that wasn't enough. Driver said the watering would continue between every group so that conditions would be similar for everyone.

"I'm not very happy about this," Driver told The Associated Press. "You've just got to do the best you can to make it as fair as you can."

"I don't even think the water began to seep into the ground," said Mark Calcavecchia. "I think it just kind of beads up and rolls off like a waxed car."

By the end of the day, three players had made birdie. There were 28 pars, 27 bogeys, five double bogeys and the three triple bogeys. Only 17.2 percent of the players hit the green in regulation on Sunday; 27.3 percent hit it in regulation on Saturday, and 33.3 percent hit it for the tournament.

USGA officials said Saturday that the green was inadvertently rolled before Saturday's round. "I found out after play was completed today that, for some reason, a different person on the grounds staff rolled that green today, despite the orders that we had given not to roll the green," Driver said.

"They lied [Saturday]," said Jerry Kelly, who finished with an 81 after shooting 71 Saturday. "They said 'We told them not to roll that one [No. 7]. Talked to the superintendent. Superintendent said, 'Hey, I'm not getting in the middle of this. They told me to roll it.

"They're trying to put blame, because of their stupidity, on to somebody doing a good job. It's not the superintendent's fault. This is the USGA's fault, and it is every year."

J.J. Henry and Kevin Stadler, playing in the first group, each took a triple bogey. Billy Mayfair and Cliff Kresge were next -- Kresge made triple bogey and Mayfair saved bogey, despite putting off the green. Mayfair responded with a Chi Chi Rodriguez-like dance around the hole. Before his second shot from short of the green, he made the sign of the cross.

Through eight pairings Sunday, the average score was 4.25. It ended up at 3.652 -- actually only the fourth-toughest hole on the course (the par-4 10th played to 5.071; and the sixth and eighth were also slightly tougher). Through three rounds, the average score was 3.371 on the hole.

"I had two feet for par and ended up with a six," Stadler said. "Then they watered the green after we went through. I don't know what the hell's going on.

"Every year it seems an official has a brain fart, and they had one today on No. 7," former Masters champ Craig Stadler said on NBC (Craig is Kevin Stadler's father). "I'm glad I'm not out there; it's a joke. A third of the field might shoot over 80."

Later Sunday, officials started watering the rest of the greens on the course at least once. "The USGA will continue to monitor course conditions throughout the round and take steps that may be deemed appropriate," Driver said in a statement.

That didn't sit well with Kevin Stadler, who shot 85 and finished at 27-over. "It's unjustifiable to make the course different for different people," he said. "It obviously didn't matter to us, we were eons out of the golf tournament. But they watered 18 after we went through, too. I just don't see how that's justifiable."

"Being the first group off, we were kind of like the guinea pigs out there," said Henry, who shot 76 and finished 26 over. "From what I understand, they've been syringing a lot of the greens all day, but unfortunately not for us. Don't get me wrong, it has to be done, but it's kind of unfortunate that the first groups off have to be guinea pigs."

Mayfair shot 89, the worst round of the tournament. Kresge shot 82.

The seventh hole at Shinnecock Hills is a 189-yard hole with a slightly raised green that slopes away from the players and from front-left to back-right. The green is also at a 45-degree angle to the tee box.

The prevailing winds are usually in the players' face, but Saturday they turned and went from right to left. With the baked-out green, which was also rolled -- allegedly by mistake -- by the grounds crew before the round, the hole became even more treacherous.

"The four hole locations we had were the fairest and most benign for the design of the green," Driver said Saturday night. "It got more
difficult as the day wore on as the wind got stronger from right to left. The wind was drying it out, they were putting downwind,
downhill, downgrain, downworld, and it was very difficult to stop those putts"

The seventh hole is named for the original Redan hole at North Berwick, Scotland, south across the Firth of Forth from St. Andrews. The 15th hole of the West Links there remains the world's most famous Redan hole -- Redan being a military term that refers to a protruding angle and that dates to an old French word meaning jagged notch, like the teeth of a saw.

Specifically, it refers to a battle between British and French forces and the Russians on the Crimean Peninsula in the 1850s. The Russians maintained a position called the Great Redan, and it survived two assaults.