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Sunday, June 15, 2008

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Moving On Up

by David Shefter   USGA

What had been rumored since Media Day in mid-May is finally out. Yes, the tee on No. 14 is up. From tee to flagstick, the hole will measure 267 yards. For the first three days of the 2008 U.S. Open, it had measured 430-plus yards. But the USGA in its new setup philosophy likes to have a driveable par 4 or two. Last year at Oakmont, both two and 17 played as driveable par-4 holes in the final round. It was at 17 where Jim Furyk got over-aggressive and made a costly 5, which left him one shot behind winner Angel Cabrera.

Today's hole location at 14 will be four paces from the right and 14 paces from the front, with a front-right bunker acting as a fortress.

It will be interesting to see how many of the contenders will try to reach the green in two, or simply hit a mid-iron off the tee to set up for a comfortable approach-shot yardage.

Other changes in the setup for Sunday's final round include the par-3 third hole playing just 137 yards. This shorter tee was also used on Thursday. The sixth hole will have the markers moved up 17 yards with a front hole location.

The long par-5 ninth will now play 588 yards to the middle of the green. It had played over 600 yards earlier in the championship.

The far back left tee is being employed at No. 13, making the hole play 614 yards. At the par-3 16th, the new back-left teeing ground will be used again, making it play 192 yards to the middle (back-left hole location).

And the 18th hole will measure 527 yards to the green with a front-right hole location (six paces from the front and six from the right). No U.S. Open champion has ever eagled the final hole to win the title. It could feasibly happen today. After all, Tiger Woods eagled the hole to close Saturday's third round.

One thing is for sure, the USGA, spearheaded by Senior Director of Rules and Competitions Mike Davis and Championship Committee Chairman Jim Hyler, has made things a bit interesting with the final-round setup.


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