Sloane Stephens, who was ranked 83rd until Monday, thrashed 15th seed Madison Keys 6-3 6-0 to win her first ever Grand Slam title, the USA Open yesterday.BBC



USGA under scrutiny

International Sports

Sergio Garcia: File picSergio Garcia: File picThe United States Golf Association (USGA) is a governing body under intense scrutiny as it prepares to stage next week's US Open at Erin Hills.


There is a growing feeling that players are losing patience with the ways of the USGA.

And after damaging controversies at the last two US Opens, former world number one Adam Scott described them as "panicky" and followed Phil Mickelson in piling pressure on the beleaguered organisation.

Two years ago at Chambers Bay, the USGA seemed the only observers unwilling to criticise greens so bumpy they were not fit to stage a monthly medal, never mind one of the big four majors.

"They were simply the worst most disgraceful surfaces I have ever seen on any tour," Ian Poulter said at the time.

Then came last year's ham-fisted handling of the Dustin Johnson rules fiasco that left no one knowing the leader's score throughout most of the final round at Oakmont. It was a farce that, again, portrayed the sport in a poor light.

Thankfully Johnson's contentious one stroke penalty, after he was deemed to have caused his ball to move on the fifth green, did not affect the eventual outcome as the current world number one brilliantly closed out his first major title.

Asked by American magazine Golfweek if he thought the USGA were feeling the heat, Scott replied: "Absolutely."

"They've taken criticism for the last two years, I'm sure they're not liking it. They're going to have to try to run a really good event."

This week the USGA have the opportunity to make their final tweaks to the par-72 Wisconsin course, which is just eleven years old and stages its first US Open, starting on 15 June.

It is another gamble to hold the championship on such a young course especially so soon after Chambers Bay, a course that opened for business in only 2007.

Famed for being the toughest of the majors, ahead of the Masters, Open and PGA Championship, the US Open is usually set up to make level-par a winning score.

Narrow fairways, uncompromising rough, rock hard lightning fast greens and relentless length are the stocks in trade of America's national championship.

It can make for attritional, one-dimensional golf where the last man standing claims the title.

"The ball is in their court; they control it all," Scott added. "Hopefully they get it right this time, just from a playability standpoint.

"Let's just have something that's a challenge and interesting, not just playing brutal."

The 36-year-old is one of the game's deeper thinkers. "Maybe it's time to do away with the even-par target, just thinking about the bigger picture of the game of golf," said the 2013 Masters champion.

"If their major pinnacle event requires courses to be the way they are, it doesn't set a good example for every other bit of golf that they try to promote. Maybe we should get the numbers out of our heads and try a new strategy."

It seems the USGA recognise they are under pressure. Their chief executive Mike Davis recently met with the PGA Tour's player advisory council in a bid to improve relations.

 

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