Rory McIlroy could not attend U.S. Open media day in person last week at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, but the defending champion was there via a conference call.
McIlroy, who won by eight strokes last year at Congressional, had to laugh when he heard Mike Davis, executive director of the United States Golf Association, give a hole-by-hole description of the Lake Course.
"I feel like I just played a practice round listening to Mike," said McIlroy, who turned 23 on Friday while playing in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. "I'm expecting this to be a tough and tricky test."
The USGA takes pride in the U.S. Open being the most difficult test in golf and is notorious for making courses even more diabolical the year after scores are lower than normal in the second major of the year.
Forget the fact that tournament officials admitted Congressional played easier because of unexpected rain.
"We are incredibly bullish on how good a test this is going to be," Davis said. "This is going to be a great shot-making course. ... It will be a firm and fast golf course. Length will not be as much of an issue this year."
The Lake Club will play to a par of 70 at 7,170 yards, or 373 yards longer than the last time it was host to the national championship. That was in 1998, when Lee Janzen beat Payne Stewart by one stroke.
The 670-yard, par-5 16th will be the longest hole in the U.S. Open's 112-year history.
Windy conditions and the possibility of San Francisco's famous fog could make the classic tree-lined course play even more difficult.
Davis already is on the record claiming that the first six holes will "absolutely be the toughest start to a U.S. Open," predicting that if a player gets through there at 2-over-par he will not be in bad shape.
The tournament will be played June 14-17, when McIlroy will try to become the first back-to-back winner since Curtis Strange in 1988 and 1989.
--Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are still making history.
"Jack's First Major," the story of the epic 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont, will be the first United States Golf Association film shown on network television. It will be telecast by NBC Sports on June 17, before final-round coverage of the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club.
The film will make its international debut a week earlier on British-based Sky Sports.
This is the 50-year anniversary of Nicklaus' playoff victory over Palmer at Oakmont, not far from Arnie's home in Latrobe, Pa., for the first of his record 18 major championships.
"I was a 22-year-old kid with blinders on," Nicklaus said. "People ask me about (playing in) Arnold's backyard, Arnold's gallery. I never heard it. All I was doing was playing golf and trying to win a golf tournament.
"I looked back and said, 'Wow! Look what happened.' It's amazing that was my first win. Arnold treated me great. He couldn't have been nicer. He's always been that way with me."
Producer Ross Greenburg, who won 51 Sports Emmy Awards while with Home Box Office, has spent two hours interviewing Palmer and Nicklaus, but the best part of the documentary has yet to be filmed.
Nicklaus and Palmer will return to play Oakmont next month, with the pin positions right where they were on that Sunday afternoon for the 18-hole playoff.
The Golden Bear built an early lead, withstood Palmer's trademark charge in the middle of the round and wound up with a 71 to win by three strokes.
--Graeme McDowell withdrew from the Wells Fargo Championship last week because he said he felt "under the weather" and wanted to be at full strength for the Players Championship this week at TPC Sawgrass.
McDowell, whose best finish this season was second behind Tiger Woods in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, said he battled through fatigue when he tied for 57th the previous week in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
"With my upcoming busy schedule, I have withdrawn from the Wells Fargo event this week," the 2010 U.S. Open champion told his followers on Twitter. "I was a little under the weather both physically and with my game last week.
"Very much wanted to play Quail Hollow, but didn't want to go there undercooked. Practice and rest for me this week. See you at Players."
After the Players Championship, McDowell will head for Europe to play in the Volvo World Match Play at Finca Cortesin in Spain and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, outside London.
--Next time, Albert Miller will simply get another golf ball out of his bag.
The 75-year-old was playing a round will friends at Lake Ashton Golf and Country Club in Lake Wales, Fla., last week, when he hit his golf ball into a pond on the 15th hole and retrieved it from shallow water.
As he walked away, a nine-foot the alligator leaped from the water and grabbed sank his teeth into Miller's left knee. His friends rushed over and held onto Miller as the gator tried to drag him into the water.
"He let me go," said Miller, who needed 40 stitches to close a 10-inch wound and two smaller ones. "I was three feet from my life. He had me submerged up to my belt buckle. That was my miracle of the month.
"He just filleted me. You could see into the bone."
Gary Morse, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said trappers later captured the alligator, which weighed approximately 190 pounds, and also pulled a six-foot gator from the pond.
--On the day it was announced by the United States Golf Association that the 2017 U.S. Women's Open will be played at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Donald Trump was not completely satisfied.
The Donald has bigger things in mind. He wants a U.S. Open.
"If that should happen, it would be a great honor," Trump said of one of his courses being host to our national championship. "I have no greater respect than for the U.S. Open. If I were of that caliber golfer, I know it would be my first pick."
Trump has been setting his sights on some of the world's biggest events since building and opening Trump National in 2004 on what once was the estate of automaker John DeLorean.
The 65-year-old mogul and TV personality, who owns golf courses in North America and Europe, said the Tom Fazio-designed course at Trump National is good enough to stand up against the best golfers in the world.
"I wanted to hold this course to the absolute highest standards of golf, the absolute highest in terms of quality and length," said Trump, who also was host to a series, "Donald Trump's Fabulous World of Golf," on the Golf Channel.
"This course can play 7,700, even 7,800, yards. It is one of the few places that you don't have to tinker with. You can set the greens, not at 15 or 16, but 12, and the best players are going to have a hard time staying around par."
Trump said another thing that makes his course attractive for major events is that it is accessible off a major highway, has parking for 18,000 cars and can handle major-size crowds.
The U.S. Women's Open, which will be played July 13-16, 2017, will mark the first time the tournament will be held in New Jersey since 1987, when Laura Davies won at Plainfield.
--Anthony Kim, one of the rising stars in the game only two years ago, withdrew from the Wells Fargo Championship because of injuries, the third consecutive week he has pulled out during a tournament.
Kim cited pain in his right wrist and elbow and also said he also was having difficulty with his left thumb, which needed surgery in 2010. He hasn't been the same since admittedly coming back too soon from that procedure.
"I've tried to play through the injuries, but I know from experience that it will only make matters worse," said Kim, who also withdrew from the Players Championship this week.
"I'm going to get it looked at and do what I need to do to get back to full health."
Kim withdrew from the Shell Houston Open after opening with a 7-over-par 79, saying he had a shoulder injury. In the Valero Texas Open, his club struck a rock as he tried to hit a ball out of a bush, and he withdrew because of pain that shot through both arms.
After not hitting balls for 10 days, he showed up at Quail Hollow and shot 2-over-par 74 in the first round but withdrew after showing up at the course the next day.
Kim, who once was in the top 10 of the World Golf Rankings, was down to No. 146 last week. He also was 210th on the money list and would lose his PGA Tour card if he doesn't finish in the top 125.
However, if he's out for a prolonged period of time, he could seek a medical exemption for next season.