LOS ANGELES, June 5 (Reuters) - After last year’s brutally tough U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, Tiger Woods said that a 10-handicap golfer would have failed to break 100 on the hilly par-70 layout.
Woods will get the chance to see if his prediction also applies to next week’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego where four amateurs will bid to dip below 100 in the tournament build-up.
Golf Digest magazine has arranged the ‘Challenge’, which will feature three celebrity golfers and be televised by NBC with twice major champion Johnny Miller providing analysis.
The three celebrities -- Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, pop singer Justin Timberlake and television personality Matt Lauer -- are all competent players but Woods rules out any chance of 100 being broken.
“I don’t see it happening, especially if the set-up is like it was at Oakmont last year,” the American world number one told Golf Digest of Friday’s ‘Challenge’.
“No way. People don’t realise how thick the rough is and how difficult it is controlling shots. I know Matt and Tony are good players but, until they experience it, they have no idea.”
The par-71 South Course at Torrey Pines measures a staggering 7,643 yards, making it the longest layout in major championship history.
Romo, Timberlake, Lauer and fellow amateur John Atkinson of Omaha, Nebraska, who was selected by Golf Digest from 56,374 entries, will tackle the course in U.S. Open conditions.
“I think it’ll be fun, and interesting, to see what happens,” Woods said of the tight fairways, slick greens and penalising rough facing the amateur quartet.
Twelve months ago at Oakmont, Argentina’s Angel Cabrera won his first major title by a shot, posting a five-over total of 285 on a course widely regarded as boasting the toughest greens in the game.
Twice champion Woods, who had to settle for a share of second place, was asked how difficult the layout had proved to be during the second round.
In reply, he used the analogy of a 10-handicap golfer who would expect to shoot around 80.
“If you’re a 10-handicapper, there is no way you’re breaking 100 out there,” Woods said. “If you played all out on every shot, there is no way.
“You just have to be so patient and on top of that you’ve got to be strong coming out of the rough and you’ve got to have unbelievable touch on the greens. Most 10-handicappers I know don’t have that.”
Butch Harmon, Woods’s former swing coach who is now working with world number two Phil Mickelson and third-ranked Adam Scott among others, had no doubts over the challenge facing the four amateurs at Torrey Pines.
“For each of them, it’s going to be the greatest golf experience of his life, and he’ll be miserable every step of the way,” he said. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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