SPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- Give United States Golf Association officials some credit: They sure like to pin down their tee times in advance.
Yesterday, the USGA revealed that the first Open of the 21st century will be held at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif.
Besides serving as a site of the 2000 Open, Pebble Beach will also be the location of the 1999 U.S. Amateur.
Pinehurst Country Club's No. 2 Course in Pinehurst, N.C., was designated site of the 1999 U.S. Open.
"These represent two of the finest golf courses in America," said Reg Murphy, vice president of the USGA. "Obviously, both of them can be played by daily fee persons. I think that's an important advantage to both of them."
The Open will be played at Oakmont (Pa.) in 1994, Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y., in 1995 and Oakland Hills in Birmingham, Mich., in 1996 and Congressional in Bethesda, Md., in 1997.
The 1998 Open has not yet been awarded, but Murphy said, "We have narrowed the choice down to a few places."
The USGA also announced that the 1997 U.S. Amateur will be played at Cog Hill Golf Club in Lemont, Ill. The 1997 Walker Cup match will be at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y.
Expecting long weekend
Here is Fuzzy Zoeller's assessment of Baltusrol's Lower Course: "It's very long, and very boring."
The 7,159-yard par-70 course has only two par-5 holes, the 17th and 18th. And only the final hole is considered a birdie-bet by USGA officials, who have done their usual job of tightening the fairways.
Unlike in past Opens, the USGA has not gone overboard with the growth of the rough. Hit a poor tee shot, and there is still ample opportunity to recover for a par.
"The depth of the rough is not nearly as severe as what you see at the U.S. Open," said Paul Azinger. "I've always felt that the Open takes the driver out of your hands, so I think this is good. More guys will be hitting driver here because the penalty is not as severe. I think there are seven or eight holes where you'll be able to hit driver."
L Nick Faldo pronounced the course "very good and very tough."
But watch those greens.
"I've spent a lot of time on these greens, just trying to get the feel of the pace and work out some of the breaks," Faldo said. "They are pretty severe now that they are speeding up."
Javier Sanchez of Fayetteville, Ga., went from first alternate to Open starter yesterday when Billy Ray Brown of Missouri City, Texas, withdrew with a wrist injury.
Reaching new depths
This just in from Greg Norman.
He doesn't "meditate." He doesn't "mind-condition." He doesn't see a sports psychologist.
When he wants to relax he goes scuba diving.
"I love it," he said. "I learn to breathe properly and relax while I'm down there. There's nobody down there except what you're looking for."
This week Norman is in search of a major title.
"I've felt my rededication to the game is starting to show," he said. "I worked extremely hard for about nine months after that 18-20 month bad time I had. I'm at peace with myself. I'm happy. I'm relaxed. When you know you have your priorities back in life, it's a lot easier."