McIlroy on board with ban on green reading books


SAN DIEGO — Count Rory McIlroy in when it comes to banning the books players use to help them read greens — even though he uses one himself.

McIlroy, responding to reports the books carried by most players in their back pockets may be on their way out as early as this fall, said he believes reading the way greens break is a skill that should be part of the game. The books, he said, cut into the advantage good green readers have.

“I use a greens book and I’d like to get rid of them,’’ McIlroy said. “If it’s going to be available to us and it helps us, people are going to use it, but I think for the greater good of the game I’d like to see them be outlawed and for them not to be used anymore.”

McIlroy’s comments come in the wake of a report in Golfweek that the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council voted earlier this month to outlaw the books, a vote that will go to the full tour membership for final approval. McIlroy is chairman of the council and made clear his position is that the books should be taken out of the game at the highest level.

“It’s not that it’s an advantage really, it’s just taking away a skill that takes time and practice to be mastered,’’ McIlroy said. “I think reading greens is a real skill that some people are better at than others and it just nullifies that advantage that people have.’’

The books have also come under criticism for contributing to slow play, something McIlroy said should also be taken into account by players.

“It might make practice rounds a little longer and you might have to do a little more work,’’ he said. “But I think once we get to the tournament rounds it will speed up play and I think it will help the guys who have really done their homework, it will help them stand out a little bit more.’’

The roars are back at major championship golf, though they won’t be as loud as they might have been this week at the U.S. Open.

Officials say up to 10,000 fans a day will be at Torrey Pines, a welcome site after the last Open was played without fans at Winged Foot

“I look around this place and I see like 90 days ago we didn’t think we were gong to have fans,” said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of championships for the USGA. “To see that we have six or seven grandstands that have gone up in the last couple of weeks, it’s pretty remarkable.’’

While happy to have a crowd, USGA officials can only shake their heads at the timing. On Tuesday, California loosened its COVID-19 restrictions, allowing the Los Angeles Dodgers to play Tuesday before more than 50,000 fans, which is about the number of tickets usually sold for a normal Open round.

Bodenhamer said there simply wasn’t enough time to revamp the plan and add capacity to Torrey Pines once it became clear that restrictions would be lifted.

“I had the question earlier today, why don’t you have 30,000, 40,000 people?” he said. “What we do in building what is essentially a small city, we start six months in advance and it takes a while. I think what you see out there for 8,000 or 10,000 that will happen this week, it’s a remarkable accomplishment.’’

Dustin Johnson has no problem with broadcasters using drones to offer better camera angles at big golf tournaments.

In fact, he’s got a few drones himself.

“They sit in the box. I’ve flown a few of them and they crash,” Johnson said. “I tried flying them at the house where there’s a lot of trees, and there’s not a whole lot of room to land them and take off. So I need to go and practice in an open field.”

Johnson said the drones can give fans a different perspective on the course and add to their understanding of what players face on different shots. He said he’s heard a few fly over during tournaments but they haven’t been a distraction.

“Obviously, the guys know what they’re doing,” he said. “So they stay out of your way.”

Mike Davis was doing the pairings the week before the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines when he got a call offering up some startling information about the condition of Tiger Woods’ leg.

The longtime USGA executive knew going into the Open that Woods was having problems with his leg — but didn’t know how big an issue it was. Then he got a call from Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, who offered some detail.

“Mark said, Mike, I need to share with you that Tiger has fractured his leg in a few places,’’ Davis recalled. “And I said, What?’’

Steinberg told Davis that Woods was going to play and asked him not to share the information about his leg. Woods not only played but sank a putt on the 18th hole on Sunday to force a Monday playoff with Rocco Mediate it took him 19 holes to win.

Davis said he marveled to himself while watching Woods up close that week.

“Really, as well as Tiger can strike a ball, the shot-making skills, the athletic skills, it’s up here that really has made Tiger different,’’ Davis said, pointing to his head. “And that week, knowing he was playing on a leg that was fractured in a few places, the mental fortitude to know at impact you’re going to have that kind of pain and just to say, commit to that shot and do it, I’ll never forget it because just walking with him, the pain he was in. And, again, people didn’t know he had a fractured leg. They just thought he had a knee problem.”

Dustin Johnson won four times in the pandemic year of 2020, including his victory in the November Masters.

He added another trophy Wednesday without even touching a club.

Johnson was awarded the Mark McCormack trophy for most time spent at No. 1 in the world golf ranking during 2020. Johnson spent 19 weeks at No. 1 in a year when the top ranking was owned by five different players at various points.

Johnson, who has now won the award three times, also is the current world No. 1.

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