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Pinehurst No. 2 is anything but perfect for the U.S. Open, at least in the traditional sense of major championships in America.
USGA executive director Mike Davis could not be any more thrilled.
''It's awesome,'' Davis said Monday as he gazed out at a golf course that looks like a yard that hasn't been watered in a month.
Sandy areas have replaced thick rough off the fairways. They are partially covered with that Pinehurst Resort officials refer to as 'natural vegetation', but what most anyone else would simply call weeds.
The edges of the bunkers are ragged. The turf is uneven just off some of the greens, with patches of no grass.
Instead of verdant fairways from tee-to-green, the fairways are a blend of green, yellow and brown.
That was the plan all along.
Shortly after this Donald Ross gem was awarded its third U.S. Open in 15 years, the fabled No. 2 course went through a gutsy project to restore it to its natural look from yesteryear, before this notion that the condition of a course had to be perfect.
Ernie Els, a two-time U.S. Open champion, was amazed when he walked off the 18th green.
''I wouldn't call this an inland links, but it's got that character,'' he said. ''I was a bit nervous when I heard of the redo. But this looks like it's been here for a long time.''
Els has been playing the U.S. Open for two decades. He never imagined the ''toughest test in golf'' without any rough. Nor does he think that will make it easier.
''You don't need it,'' he said. ''When I played it in `99, I didn't like it. You hit it in the rough, you're just trying to get it out. It was one-dimensional. Now, you're going to have an unbelievable championship.
''If you miss the fairway, you're not just going to wedge it out. You've got a chance to hit a miraculous shot. And then you could really be (in trouble). This is the way it used to be.''
Els said the look of Pinehurst No. 2 reminded him of Royal Melbourne, and a guy who actually grew up next to Royal Melbourne agreed.
''These are Melbourne fairways,'' Geoff Ogilvy said as he walked down the first fairway, where the grass was green for the first 200 yards before turning brown, and then going back to greener grass