View Count: 115 |  Publish Date: June 12, 2013
USGA rule could muddy playing conditions
FRANK SERAVALLI, Daily News Staff Writer seravaf@phillynews.comPosted: Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 2:19 AM
The Daily News covers the Open: Check out PhillyDailyNews.coms U.S. Open page for our coverage of the tournament at Merion.
THE RULE is called lift, clean and place.More coverageSpecial section: Complete U.S. Open coverageU.S. Open weather conditions should improve Groupings, start times for first two rounds U.S. Open TV schedule Hole-by-hole look at Merion Interactive Map: Merion Golf Club EastPhotos: U.S. Open course at Merion
Some players call it lift, clean and cheat.
Its something the PGA Tour regularly enacts with mud on a course, so players can feel a true ball flight. But in the history of the U.S. Open, the games governing body is fairly certain it has never provided players with relief from muddied golf balls - and isnt likely to start this week at Merion Golf Club, no matter how much rain has fallen.
Mud balls are just one more thing making this weeks national championship shape up as one of the most unpredictable in recent memory. No one is quite sure how the players will handle the course - and how the Ghosts of Merion will treat these 156 players.
Since fairways are expected to dry out a little bit before tomorrows opening round, they likely wont be wet enough to self clean and wash off any accumulating mud from balls as they roll.
For the ultimate game of preparation and precision, that presents a problem.
Im kind of split on the issue. I think theres a need for [lift, clean and place] at times, Graeme McDowell said yesterday. I get that the USGA, they dont like giving the golf ball in-hand, club-length, lift, clean and place. Because you can use that to your advantage, you can change your angle, you can get yourself out of interesting scenarios at times.
But I think mud balls are a problem. I think theyre unfair. Every time I get mud on the ball, my deviation gets quite heavy. I think golf is designed to be played from a closely mown fairway. If you hit in that fairway, you deserve a great line and great opportunity to attack the green surface.
According to GolfWeek, the rule of thumb for playing shots when mud is on the ball is to assume it is predisposed to fly in the opposite direction of the mud. For example, if the mud is on the left side of the ball, it will go right; if the mud is on the low side of the ball, it will probably go higher.
Spin rate also is affected, possibly making sticking on greens an interesting game of chance, depending on ball flight. Using short irons or wedges, as many pros will use shooting at Merions greens, will lessen some of those mud-ball risks.
The problem is that if youve got trouble left or right of the green, Zach Johnsons coach, Mike Bender, told GolfWeek. Now you may have to aim at the trouble and hope that the ball is actually going to do what you think its going to do.
With an already short and now soft, rain-soaked course that many think could see record-low scores, the USGA isnt about to make the conditions any easier on players. This is still a U.S. Open. And this is still golf. Play it as it lies.
Were going to have situations where if it does dry out through the weekend and we hit a few drives down there and get a few mud balls, were going to have to deal with it, Tiger Woods said. Its part of the game, getting up and down, and dealing with some situations like that. I think theres an element of luck anytime you win a golf tournament.
On Twitter: @DNFlyers
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