Pinehurst, N.C. _ Walked a few holes with former Gopher Clayton Rask. He made birdies on Nos. 1 and 4, then bogeyed 5 with a three-putt, and now stands at minus-1 as he plays the eighth. He's tied for fourth.
Pictures of him as a Gopher reveal a rather stocky guy. He looks like a pro athlete now, and he's near the tournament leaders (tied for third at the moment) with a driving average of 320 yards.
Fellow former Gopher Donald Constable tees off at 1:31.
You can follow Rask's round here.
My first impression of Pinehurst No. 2 during the practice rounds? I kept waiting to be impressed.
While I like the fact that the organizers ripped up the thick rough, revealing sand and wiregrass, the course itself just is not living up to its reputation.
Now, I'm spoiled. Most of the majors I've covered have been at Augusta National. I covered the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, and I've visited Pebble Beach. These are places of breathtaking natural beauty.
Pinehurst No. 2 is revered by the golf establishment, but the emporer has no clothes.
With no significant water on the course, it's just a big, hot sandbox with crowned greens.
Usually, I'm especially spoiled when I cover majors. Usually, I have inside-the-ropes access, which allows me to follow players closely.
Here, I'm outside the ropes (I'm guessing the USGA is punishing my paper for not having covered the Open for a while), which means I'm getting the true fan experience.
And the true fan experience here stinks, especially on the front nine.
Most courses have perches that allow you to watch more than one hole at a time. Here, the course is flat and well-treed, so you can really only watch one shot at a time.
And the setup of the course means walking the course is like driving in St. Paul - usually you're going the wrong way, but don't worry, you'll hit a dead-end soon.
There are 20 public courses in Minnesota I'd rather play or walk than Pinehurst, including Hazeltine National and all of the resort courses up North. And I haven't even played all of the good courses in our state.
If PInehurst is worthy of a major championship, then Minnesota should get to host the Open every other year.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15.