Chambers Bay Diary

Hometown golfer Michael Putnam is expecting a lot of noise from the Chambers Bay galleries this week if the decibel levels at Seattle Seahawks NFL games are any guide.

Chambers Bay Diary

Tacoma native Putnam, 32, lives two miles from this week's US Open venue, the first time the national championship has been held in the Pacific Northwest. His parents live just a mile from the public links course and with attendance limited to 30,000 spectators each day he has been much in demand for tickets since coming through qualifying in Ohio earlier this month.

“Knowing the ticket sales, they sold out in like three days,” Putnam said. “Once I got in the tournament, a lot of my buddies were counting on me for tickets. These guys up here are Seahawk fans, which is loudest stadium in the NFL. So I expect that energy to translate here at the golf tournament.

“So it's been pretty cool. Yesterday I played nine holes and was yelled at a lot and a lot of cheering was going on. The fans up here have been craving golf for a long time, since I think the NEC (World Golf Championship) was the last PGA Tour golf event at Sahalee (in 2002). They're craving to watch the best players play and they're getting it this week.”

And when the tournament is over and the golfing world departs, Putnam can go back to taking his young kids back to their favourite spot.

“It's cool because when they tear these tents down, there's a huge kids playground, and I've got a four and a half and two and a half-year-old. When we're home, we come use the playground at least twice a week, which is just on the northeast corner of the property. We're here a lot. We enjoy the park part of it, and then every once in a while go down to the golf course and play golf.”

***

Not everyone has had a warm welcome at Chambers Bay. Australian golfer Clint Rice had his clubs confiscated while attempting a US Open practice round, the Australian Associated Press reported yesterday.

Rice, ranked No.1188 in the world, is second alternate for the second major of the year having worked his way through local and sectional qualifiers and he had been told informally that he could play a practice round on the links course on Tuesday.

Four holes into his round alongside fellow Aussie and 2006 US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy on Tuesday, the AAP reported that a USGA official approached Rice and politely stopped him from playing. The Tasmanian's clubs were taken away and the 34-year-old had to merely walk the final five holes of the nine he'd intended to play.

The USGA was acting within its rules which state that reserves can use all the practice facilities but are not allowed to play on the course proper and they confirmed Rice had been made aware he had no playing privileges earlier in the week.

Yet Ogilvy questioned the implementation of those rules.

"It's a bit silly if you're not holding anybody up or interfering with their practice," Ogilvy said.

"I'd get it if there were no spots available for players in the field. But this wasn't the case here.

"I was playing on my own in the afternoon and he just asked if he could play with me and, of course, I said yes.

"I get where the USGA is coming from, but surely the top few alternates should be able to play.

"What happens if he gets in on Thursday and hasn't seen the course? He effectively has his chances limited.

"It's a shame because we were having a good time and he seemed like a really good bloke.

Rice made no comment on the matter.

***

PGA Tour pro Cameron Tringale will get his US Open opening round under way with a spring in his step today after making a hole in one at the par-three ninth during his practice round on Tuesday. At least he thinks he made a hole in one.

“Well, it was actually a hole-in-two,” Tringale explained. “I hit the first one, it was a three-iron, it was 226 (yards) maybe, to the hole. And I hit the first one pretty good and it plugged in the right bunker just under the lip.

“Then I teed up another one and gave it the full treatment and it was a pure golf shot. It just carried the bunker and then probably rolled 30, 40 feet up the slope to the pin and then couldn't see it go in, really.

“But I heard the gallery erupt and it was kind of strange, I didn't know what to feel because I had already hit one. So does it really count or not? It was one of those, like as it was happening that's what I was kind of thinking about. But very cool, nonetheless.”

***

This week could have been a very different playing experience at the US Open if Phil Mickelson had got the commission to design the course at Chambers Bay a decade ago.

The five-time major winner's golf course design team tendered Pierce County in Washington State for the job of turning a disused quarry into a public course but lost out to Robert Trent Jones Jr's company and his vision of a pure links layout.

“We were involved in the bidding process and one of the final selections,” Mickelson said. “And I thought it was a spectacular piece of property. But it wouldn't have turned out anything like this, no. Not good or bad, I think it's a wonderful course. My vision was totally different.”

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