Phil Mickelson urges USGA to avoid ‘carnival golf’ at US Open | Golf News

Mickelson admitted he was happy with some of the course alterations

Last Updated: 12/06/18 2:53pm










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Phil Mickelson has pleaded with US Open officials to be careful with the course set-up at Shinnecock Hills and avoid a repeat of ‘carnival golf’ in 2004.

Phil Mickelson has pleaded with US Open officials to be careful with the course set-up at Shinnecock Hills and avoid a repeat of ‘carnival golf’ in 2004.

Phil Mickelson has pleaded with the USGA to take the appropriate measures to avoid the “carnival golf” that blighted the last US Open at Shinnecock Hills.

The firm and fast conditions on the final day in 2004 rendered the historic layout close to unplayable 14 years ago, with the par-three seventh causing the most difficulty as players struggled to keep their ball on the green, even when putting.

Phil Mickelson was critical of the 'carnival golf' on the final day in 2004

Phil Mickelson was critical of the ‘carnival golf’ on the final day in 2004

After several of the early starters had their cards wrecked, the USGA were forced to water the green in between groups amid fierce criticism from players and the media accusing the tournament officials of losing control of the golf course.

Retief Goosen defied the conditions to produce the best putting performance of his career, when the average score was approaching 80 and nobody broke par, and the South African’s one-over 71 was enough to earn his second US Open title by two shots from Mickelson, who double-bogeyed the 71st hole when he three-putted from inside six feet.

The seventh green had to be watered in between groups on the final day in 2004

The seventh green had to be watered in between groups on the final day in 2004

The tournament returns to the New York venue this week and has been lengthened by 449 yards since 2004, and Mickelson is hoping the second major of the year will be free from the controversy the dominated the headlines 14 years ago.

“I think it’s a very difficult job to find the line of testing the best players to the greatest degree and then making it carnival golf,” said Mickelson, a six-time US Open runner-up in what remains the only major missing from his collection.

Retief Goosen held off Mickelson by two shots to win his second US Open title

Retief Goosen held off Mickelson by two shots to win his second US Open title

“I think it’s a very fine line, and it’s not a job I would want. The USGA are doing the best they can to find that line, and a lot of times they do, and sometimes they cross over it.

“The difficulty is, when you dream of a championship as a child and you work hours and hours and do all this prep work and then you are left to chance the outcome, as opposed to skill, then that’s a problem.

Mickelson has given mixed reviews of the course changes for this week

Mickelson has given mixed reviews of the course changes for this week

“In 2004, the barometer for watering the seventh green was if anyone made a double or triple-bogey. If your group made a double or a triple, the green got watered for the group behind you. That type of chance bothers me given that we put so much into this tournament. To have it left to something like that is disappointing.”

Mickelson admitted he was happy with some of the course alterations for this week’s event, particularly the lengthening of the tough par-four 14th, also he is less enchanted with the 16th being extended to 620 yards.

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“I like to make the hard holes harder and the easy holes easier,” he added. “So when they take 14, which is a very hard par-four, and they make it harder and move the tee back, I actually like that a lot because it allows for the players that are playing well to make up strokes on the field by making pars.

“But 16 is one of very few birdie opportunities, so to move the tee back to 620 yards, I don’t agree with. I think we should have some birdie opportunities, and to eliminate one of the very few that are out here and make it a difficult par is not something I agree with.”

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