By Robert Bicknell

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April 16, 2006

Get the Immodium, USGA announces changes to US Open course...

Well, another Masters is over and I am proud to say that my blazing streak of predicting winners continues without interruption. Personally, I am awed by my amazing display of utter perfection. A streak like this hasn’t been seen since the likes of Jimmy The Greek.

If you missed it, Phil Mickelson won his 2nd green jacket last week and, as usual, I was completely wrong. It boggles the imagination.

The odds-makers in Las Vegas and London should monitor my column and whenever I predict a winner, boost him to 1,000,000 – 1. Hey, if I picked him you know beyond a doubt the guy is dead in the water.

Yet, one day I WILL get a prediction right and everyone will know it…after all, Hell freezing over would be worthy of global media coverage…

While I do not plan to predict the winner for the US Open, scheduled to take place on 12 July at Winged Foot, I will comment on the latest brainstorm by the terrorists, er…"tournament officials" over at the USGA.

It has long been rumoured that the USGA takes great sadistic delight in causing the best players in the world to have attacks of explosive diarrhoea at the mere thought of going into the rough during a US Open, and the proposed changes to Winged Foot for this year’s event does nothing to dispel this notion.

In a nutshell, the maniacs…er, "tournament officials" plan to create different heights of rough for each hole based on the degree of difficulty of the hole. I also believe they might’ve coined a new golf term in the process, "penal rough."

You may take a moment before continuing to formulate your own joke at this time…although visions of Robin Williams grabbing himself just popped into my head.

Now, while I take great delight in poking fun at the USGA, these changes actually make a lot of sense and will heighten the enjoyment and amusement of the people watching at home.

The USGA says a drivable par 4 would have higher cuts of rough around the green than a very long par 4. Thus, the "risk vs. reward" factor is increased for each hole.

In the past, the rough was the same everywhere you looked…deep and ugly. If your ball landed in it, you had trouble just finding it, never mind actually hitting a shot from there, so most pros played it safe…almost to the point of boredom.

What the new change does is dangle a huge juicy carrot in front of the players faces just to see if they can be tempted into doing something truly stupid.

In what passes for "normal" at a US Open, fairways average 25-yards in width. From 300 yards, a 25-yard span looks like a postage stamp. This will be followed by two-yards of intermediate rough cut at 1½ inches in height, so, a player who misses the fairway by a very small margin would still have a shot at the green…

A rock-hard, nothing stops on it, lightning fast green…

The first primary cut of rough will be three to four inches in height and extend about 18 feet before the secondary primary cut comes into play.

The secondary primary cut of rough, which is where the fun starts as far as I am concerned, will be a minimum of six inches in height (read: grab a sand wedge, slash the ball back into the fairway if humanly possible and insert the sound of explosive diarrhoea followed by choice curse words and screams of anguish by your favourite Tour Pro).

They also plan to shove back the gallery ropes to reduce any possible lie improvement that a player got in the past by spectators trampling the rough.

So, if John Daly, Tiger Woods or any of the other long hitters miss the fairway by more than a little, they are probably in very deep…ca-ca.

One thing is for sure, the USGA continues to find ways to keep the US Open challenging for the players and entertaining for the spectators.

This one should be quite interesting!

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