Enjoying best of both worlds

USGA chief Davis still will oversee U.S. Open setup

March 03, 2011

Among insiders, USGA competition chief Mike Davis seemed the easy pick to step into the executive director's post David Fay vacated two months ago.

One problem: Davis wasn't sure he wanted to give up his old job. He liked being on the ground — especially when it came to setting up the U.S. Open.

In the end, he wound up with both jobs.

Well, not completely. But the USGA's executive committee found enough upside to having Davis in the top spot that they will let him continue to oversee its signature event.

"We would be idiots if we extracted Mike from U.S. Open activities," USGA President Jim Hyler said in announcing Davis' promotion. "Mike will continue to be involved with the U.S. Open as far as site selection and course setup. He's the best in the world at that."

Davis, you might recall, is the man who moved the USGA from its brutal-rough, slick-greens template to an incremental risk/reward setup that players applaud. The result has been two of the more compelling Open finishes in recent memory.

In 2006, Phil Mickelson bit off too much risk at Winged Foot's final hole, his resulting double bogey handing the trophy to Geoff Ogilvy. Then came the epic 2008 Open, when Tiger Woods outlasted Rocco Mediate in a 19-hole Monday playoff at Torrey Pines.

Always changing: Jack Nicklaus points to one reason players making swing changes becomes news: Swing coaches.

"They want to talk about it because that's how they make their living," he said.

Disputing the idea that he had one swing his entire career, Nicklaus said the swing needs constant tweaking as a player's body goes through various changes.

"If you don't make changes," he said, "you don't improve."

Tap-ins: Hard to fathom, but Woods didn't qualify for next week's WGC-Cadillac Championship until Monday. Because he didn't finish last year among the top 30 in FedEx Cup points, he had to wait until the first cutoff to get in via the top 50 in world rankings. … Neshanic Valley GC, near Flemington, N.J., has been selected to host next year's U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links.

— Jeff Shain

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