Players get ready in lots of ways for major championships. Some choose to enter tournaments. Some like to take the week before off, resting and practicing at their own pace before the stress commences.
Rory McIlroy might be the only one willing to spend a few days visiting an earthquake-ravaged country on a humanitarian mission. The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland traveled to Haiti for two days last week, part of a UNICEF team that was trying to help the small nation still reeling from the devastation caused by the Jan. 10, 2010, earthquake. Any way it could.
For a person who made news and won fans in April when he lost a four-stroke, final-round lead at the Masters, visiting Haiti opened McIlroy’s eyes.
“I believed I had perspective before going to Haiti, and then in fact seeing it, it just gives you a entirely different view on the world and the game that you play,’’ McIlroy said. “They just have to have so much help. It’s definitely not a nice matter to see. It gives you a enormous sense of just being so fortunate and just doing normal things every day.’’
McIlroy, who joined UNICEF at the start of the year as an ambassador, made a special point of bringing up the schools he visited and the children he met, none of whom had any idea who the mop-topped big kid was.
“Their spirit is great,’’ he said. “I definitely want to get back in the next year or so and see the progress that they’ve made.’’
One of the US Open’s roughest moments has an chance to be remedied, with the US Golf Association announcing yesterday that the 2018 US Open will be held at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Long Island. Shinnecock last hosted the tournament in 2004, when Retief Goosen won by two shots over Phil Mickelson. But the lasting image might have been the situation of some of the greens in the final round, especially the par-3 seventh, which was baked dry, created a loud backlash from the players – not anyone broke par in the final round – and left a big, black mark on the competition.
Now, the USGA has convinced Shinnecock members to give the regulating body a do-over.
“We wanted to get back to Shinnecock in the worst way and kind of get back again on the horse, if you will, and prove what a great, great venue it is,’’ said Mike Davis, the USGA’s executive director. “What happened in ’04 was simply an error in judgment in terms of water management. It was a great learning experience.’’
The dates for the 2018 US Open are June 14-17, and it will be the fifth time Shinnecock has hosted the tournament. Other upcoming venues include the Olympic Club next year, Merion (2013), Pinehurst (2014), Chambers Bay (2015), Oakmont (2016), Erin Hills (2017), and Pebble Beach (2019).
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