THINK THE WINNING SCORE will depend on the playing conditions for the week. My prediction would be anywhere from 4-under 280 to even-par 284. I don't feel there will be more than a half a dozen players under par. It wouldn't surprise me if the scores are very similar to last year at Salem, with one player under par and two or three players even. Because of some of the uphill shots, it favors a high-ball hitter, such as Bruce Lietzke. I also like Bruce Fleisher, Hale Irwin and certainly Tom Kite, both statistically and sentimentally. Certainly, Tom Watson, Larry Nelson, Doug Tewell and Jim Thorpe, who shot a 62 here last year in a preview pro-am, could all be contenders. I think this golf course will produce a very strong leader board. This will be a typical USGA test where the conditions of the golf course challenge the player and par will be a very good score. The strong will survive!
1. 426 YARDS, PAR 4: With an elevated tee, many of the players will hit less than a driver and then be hitting into the green with a short iron. It will be a 3-wood, 8-iron for many players or driver, wedge. It's a relatively easy start.
2. 391 YARDS, PAR 4: Even though you need a 230-yard carry over a lake, there's bail-out room left. Once you get over the lake, you've got a wedge to the green. It's another hole that will produce a lot of birdies.
3. 515 YARDS, PAR 5: Because it's a reachable (in 2) par-5, a guy could actually birdie the first three holes. I think there will be some eagles here. My guess is that the hole will be under-par on average.
4. 176 YARDS, PAR 3: Though the back tees can be played up to 224 yards, it's going to be played in the championship a lot shorter. But that's a little deceptive, because it's going to play to a narrow green. It's not as easy as it looks.
5. 439 YARDS, PAR 4: A slightly uphill par-4 with one of the most difficult greens on the course because of its subtleties -- break, hole locations, the green is 40 yards deep. It's hard to tell just where the hole is.
6. 462 YARDS, PAR 4: Though it only has two bunkers, it still is considered the toughest hole on the front. The green for the length of the hole is relatively small and unbelievably fast from left to right. Putting off the green isn't inconceivable.
7. 536 YARDS, PAR 5: By playing this hole at around 540 rather than 565, the fairway bunkers come into play. With the tees up, it becomes a borderline reachable par-5 with a risk-reward quality to it. One of the most difficult greens on the course. This hole gets three-putted as often as any.
8. 196 YARDS, PAR 3: It looks like a relatively easy par-3, but it plays hard. The green slopes right to left, front to back. If the pin's on the left side and you spin it a little bit and it starts down that hill, now you've got one of those chips you don't want. If you go too far right, you may end up in a bunker.
9. 406 YARDS, PAR 4: The signature hole on the course because of the barn. A stream runs the entire length of the right side and wraps around the green. It keeps the players on their toes off the tee and on their second shot. Two-tiered green, narrow, deep, well-bunkered. Great hole locations.
10. 360 YARDS, PAR 4: Many of the players will hit irons off the tee. You have to be careful not to get too close to the green off the tee because you might end up with a slightly downhill lie and you might not be able to spin the ball enough to hold it.
11. 437 YARDS, PAR 4: It's not going to be played at its maximum distance (460). The USGA wanted to get a mid-iron in the hands of the guys for the second shot. The landing area narrows as you move up the fairway. We're hoping to have 5-, 6-, 7- irons in the hands of the players, hitting to an elevated green.
12. 187 YARDS, PAR 3: One of the most scenic holes on the course, from an elevated tee to an elevated green with the tee shot over wetlands. The green is heavily bunkered, two-tiered, angled, surrounded in the back by a deep rough. There was some thought to making this the signature hole.
13. 580 YARDS, PAR 5: It's the longest hole on the course, slightly uphill and doglegged, but not reachable in 2. The real challenge is in the approach shot. Even though it will be a short iron, you can't see the ball land on the green. Sometimes what appears to be a good shot will often roll 20 feet past the pin.
14. 330 YARDS, PAR 4: It's slightly downhill and doglegs to the right. The second shot is uphill to a heavily contoured green. The second shot, although it will be a 9-iron or wedge, has to be just right. There will be a lot more bogeys than birdies on this hole.
15. 215 YARDS, PAR 3: It's the longest of the par-3s. You hit your tee shot out of a narrow shoot to a narrow green. There's a bit of a bail-out to the left, hitting over wetlands. A hazard is on the right. Very fast green. You can say that about all of them. This is the first of four strong finishing holes.