July 1 2011
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- The U.S. Open was two weeks ago, but Aronimink Golf Club is playing an awful lot like a major championship venue at this week’s AT&T National.
The rough is up, the scores are down and there’s a premium on par.
Not that this is an unfamiliar theme here. Last year, Aronimink was the fourth-toughest course on the PGA TOUR and second most-difficult non-major venue.
Of course, Aronimink has hosted a major championship before -- the 1962 PGA Championship -- and there’s been talk of it getting another.
“Not much needs to be done to the golf course to hold a major championship here,” said Rickie Fowler, who is 3 under through two rounds following a 69 Friday. “You move a couple of tees back, pinch some fairways, grow the rough a little and this place could be near impossible.”
Case in point: On the par-3 14th, Fowler hit what he thought was a perfect 6-iron to a pin that’s tucked just over a bunker. The ball landed just left of the hole and bounded into the rough. He wasn’t able to get up-and-down and made bogey.
On that same hole, Nick O’Hern took a safer approach and hit his tee shot to the middle of the green. He three-putted for bogey on the undulating green.
Charles Howell III put himself in contention with a 68 Friday, but his round wasn’t without its pitfalls -- he had five birdies and three bogeys.
“It's so hard to get close to these pins,” Howell said. “They're on the edges of the slopes, and the greens look big but there's so much slope in them, it's actually quite hard to get the ball close.
“I think it'll start getting a little bouncier, a little firmer. I think as it dries out ‑‑ par is a heck of a score.”
Chris Riley shot 66 and needed just 24 putts, but even he found conditions similar to that of a major.
“If the greens got any faster they would be kind of unplayable,” Riley said.