US Open Championship 2017
Monday, June 12, 2017
Press ConferenceBETH MAJOR: Good afternoon, my name is Beth Major, and
on behalf of the USGA and Mr. North, I would like to welcome you to Wisconsin
for the 117th U.S. Open Championship. We are thrilled to be at Erin Hills for
this year's national championship. It seems fitting that we would have Andy
North join us to kickoff the activities here in the Media Center this
Andy, as you all likely know, is a Madison native. The 1969
Wisconsin Amateur champion and an inductee into the Wisconsin Hall of Fame in
1998, and a two-time U.S. Open champion.
We thought we'd show a video
that looks back at those two U.S. Open victories. As I mentioned, Andy did win
the 1978 U.S. Open.
BETH MAJOR: Wonderful moments
from two U.S. Open victories. Andy, we were just laughing about it's a bit of a
far cry from today when you do something and three seconds later everyone sees
it. To go back and look at that footage, can you reflect on, first, the two
U.S. Open victories and the passage of time?
ANDY NORTH: We didn't get to
see it, but were there some great pants in those videos? It's always a great
thrill to be able to be introduced as the U.S. Open Champion and having been
lucky to have done it two times is really special.
Most of us growing up,
the U.S. Junior, U.S. Amateur, the U.S. Open were the tournaments that we really
felt strongly about and wanted to do well in, and to be a USGA champion is
second to none.
So it's a great thrill. It's been a great thrill for 40
years now, 39 years, to have been an Open champion and wish we could still go
out there and tee it up today. But there's no chance of that happening,
BETH MAJOR: This must be very special for you to see the
U.S. Open come to your home state. Can you reflect on that as well?
NORTH: When it was first announced that we were going to have an Open
Championship here it was really a big deal. The folks at Erin Hills have done
an unbelievable job getting this facility ready for an Open. As you can see,
the work that's been done as far as hospitality and the tenting around this golf
course is second to none. It's going to be great to see the fans of Wisconsin
come out and support it, as well. We've had a couple of PGAs, a Women's Open.
But I think this is going to be really special to have a championship that I
really care about right here in your backyard. Hopefully it's a great week, and
we've got some decent weather and we have some great play.
Have you seen enough of the setup to be able to speak to the width of the
fairways, the length of the rough and what kind of challenge this
ANDY NORTH: Well, I think that the one thing that is awkward
coming here for the first time is that no one really has any idea what to
expect. Will the winning score be 4-over, with the winning score about
20-under. No one has an idea. That's not just the players, but the staff
trying to set up the golf course.
The golf course has been closed the
entire spring. We've had a lot of rain. It's in unbelievable shape. The
greens are wonderful, the fairways are great. There's no divots anywhere, which
is pretty neat. You don't get to see that very often. I think because of that
there's not going to be the complaining that we heard a couple of years ago
where the greens weren't very good. So it's in wonderful shape.
different type of Open set up. Is it right? Is it wrong? I don't know. It's
a situation to where the fairways are as wide as you've ever had at a U.S. Open.
There's not any rough around the greens. And I think wind is going to have a
huge impact on what happens. Yes, there's a lot of fescue out there, but you've
got basically an area of 50-plus-yards wide to drive the ball to keep it out of
There are going to be some big scores. I could see some
rounds where a player makes three birdies, 14 pars and a triple. You have one
error, and you'll see big numbers. If you put the ball in the fairway, as long
as these guys hit it, don't get caught up with the 7700 yards, these guys hit it
long enough that that's not that long for them. If you put it in the fairway
you're going to see some decent scores, but the winds is going to have a huge
Q. When you heard the championship was coming here, an
event you've won twice, and it's coming to your home state, what was the first
thing that went through your mind when you heard the championship was coming to
your home state?
ANDY NORTH: Obviously very, very excited. At that point
in time when the announcement came and Erin Hills was a really young golf course
action and they've done some work on it since then, but the amount of pride that
you have to see this event in your backyard is really special.
With all your experience at the United States Open have you found from
the mid-'70s all the way to now that the level of complaints has gone up or has
it gone down. And what would elicit the most complaints this week if there were
any at all, of course?
ANDY NORTH: Kevin Na gave us insight on what the
fescue is like in places. I think the complaining has probably decreased
dramatically over the last 25 years. But the setups have changed. We've gone
to a different philosophy in rough. This week I think it's very interesting
that you have a U.S. Open and there's not one single green that has rough around
that green. So it's going to be a totally different test of golf.
trying to identify the best player, and however they do it, that's great. It
will be interesting to see how it goes. There will be some complaining, I'm
sure, but maybe not at the degree that we once had.
Q. Can you
speak to what this week might be like for Steve Stricker. Obviously you can
feel that being from here, you've never had an opportunity to do what he's
ANDY NORTH: I mean the fact that he really took it on a challenge
to go ahead and qualify, which I think is special. He played unbelievable golf
leading up to that and hopefully he can continue that level of play.
is going to be a tough week for him. In talking to him he's already said I've
had to say no more this week than I probably ever have. He's here to play in a
golf tournament. He's not here to entertain people all week long. As long as
he's able to do that, it's a golf course I think it sets up, even though it's a
longer golf course, really well for him because he's such a good pitcher and
chipper of the ball. He's a great putter obviously, but he also drives the ball
very straight. And this is the week you've got to drive the ball in the short
grass. You can't afford one or two or three bad swings that cost you maybe ten
shots over the course of the week.
Q. Where was your first U.S.
Open and for a lot of the fans here, this is their first experience walking into
this village here. I don't imagine the infrastructure of your first U.S. Open
is what you saw today?
ANDY NORTH: My first one was at Medinah 3 that Lou
Graham, John Mahaffey. There were hospitality tents there, not as many.
Medinah, obviously a totally different golf course than this. But it was a
great thrill to finally get in. When I tried to qualify I'm guessing eight or
nine times before I finally got in. So it was nice to finally get in one. And
I actually played pretty well and finished high enough that that got me in the
Masters the next year. So that kind of started my love affair with this
Q. No Phil, we think, and no Tiger, unfortunately,
this week. How does that affect the pretournament buzz?
Well, you know, this is golf for the next, you know, ten years, maybe. Will we
see Tiger play? No one has any idea, particularly him. Phil's situation is a
little bit different. He's played enough really good golf that I think he would
have been a real factor this week. He is able to raise his level significantly
when he gets to major championships. I think this would have been a reasonably
good golf course for him, if he could have driven the ball.
But at the
same time he's doing something that's much more important, to be able to watch
your daughter, who is valedictorian and give the speech, that's pretty cool. So
good for him.
Q. If Tiger were in his prime playing out here,
would there be one or two holes where you'd be curious to see how he
ANDY NORTH: He would have figured some way to get it around here,
I guarantee it, he would have figured that out. We saw what he did at Hoylake
that year, he decided not to hit any drivers. And won going away and played
some of the best golf you've ever seen. And any golf course that Tiger played
in his prime, he'd have not had any problem figuring it out.
With Steve qualifying, when he didn't get a special exemption and didn't
really have a long performance history with the USGA, you won two of these, why
didn't you ever get a special exemption, did you ever ask for one?
NORTH: I, ironically, did ask for one. I asked for one -- my last year of
exemption was going back to Oakland Hills where I won my second Open. And they
decided a year or two beforehand to change Oakland Hills to Shinnecock, so
Shinnecock could have the 100th anniversary of the Open, which was pretty cool.
I would like to have the chance to play on the golf course I had won on and
asked and didn't get one.
Q. (No microphone.)
NORTH: You look at people they've given exemptions to, and there's not a very
big list once you get past Arnold and Jack and Watson. That's a pretty good
Q. It's you and Steve Stricker, obviously, have had
pretty solid careers growing up as Wisconsinites on the TOUR. What do you see
from Jordan Niebrugge and where he's been and where he might be going?
ANDY NORTH: Jordan is a really talented young man. He hit the ball a hundred
miles. He's had some success, I think most -- the most important thing for most
young players with a great skill level, which he has, is figuring out a way to
be more consistent. Once you sort of figure that out then things become much
easier. To do away with the bad days, the bad nines, the bad holes, figure out
a way that maybe you don't go to your best shot. You have to figure out some
other way to get it out there, and he'll figure it out. He's on a nice
progression, and it's going to be pretty cool. I believe he's hitting the first
shot this week, isn't he? That's good for him. That will be fun to
Q. You've always said that you were comfortable with pars,
and this tournament fits your style. Do you feel like this course is set up
that way, as well, where guys that are maybe a little more risky, a little more
gutsy, it may sting them at some point or do you need to cash in on some birds
ANDY NORTH: That's a great question, because we have
absolutely no idea how this place is going to play. Generally at a U.S. Open if
you can make a bunch of pars and not make too many mistakes, you'll hit enough
good shots to make some birdies, could three or four under par win here,
absolutely? Could 17 under par win here? Absolutely. We have no idea.
The weather is going to have an unbelievable affect on this golf tournament.
And you that are here locally, there are a lot of days the wind can blow 15 to
20 miles an hour out of the west, and about 2:00 in the afternoon the wind
swirls and comes back off the lake. The temperature changes. That happens a
lot this time of year. If that's the case, that becomes very difficult for the
USGA, that they go ahead and set the golf course up figuring you're going to
have a certain velocity of wind for a certain direction, and if that switches
around all of a sudden you have some holes you might not be able to
It's going to be an interesting week for everybody. Hopefully the
weather is decent. If we had winds here like we had on Saturday, there wouldn't
be enough balls to finish some of these holes. It would be fun.
I wonder, are you amazed that we're here, given 20 very short years ago
what was here? What are your words for the very idea that we're here?
ANDY NORTH: Could you try that one again, please? I'm sorry.
Are you amazed of the brief history of this place and the very idea that
we're here now doing this?
ANDY NORTH: I think that's one of the
surprises when it was announced that here's a golf course that's so new. And
I've always felt like such a big part of the championship is the history that
goes with it. To go to Oakmont and know that these guys won there before, that
Arnold did that and Johnny Miller shot this score, that's really neat for the
And then you actually then have some idea what it takes to win
there. Ideally I tried really hard to figure out what the score I needed to
shoot when I came to one of these events. And then you try to fit your game
plan around trying to get to that score at the end of the week. When you don't
have any idea, it makes it much more difficult.
Q. Did you have
any role either directly or indirectly in some way in bringing The Open
ANDY NORTH: No, I had absolutely nothing to do.
Obviously you played so well in The Open and you see a guy, modern-day
guy, someone that might be in this field as a modern-day Andy North that seems
to have a record that is built getting up for majors in this
ANDY NORTH: They're all better than that old guy, trust me.
I've always loved the way Jim Furyk plays, he's an older guy, obviously. But
he's a guy that seems to always be around. The number of top 10s he's had in
major championships he gets it around. Some of that is being lost.
what Rickie has been able to do, I love the way he plays. Jordan Spieth has got
a lot of old school in him. And I think that's important. You look at Tiger
and Phil, they were a wonderful combination of old school thinking and skill.
And still have the ability to hit it a hundred miles like the young kids. And
that's one of the reasons they beat everybody so many times.
Being the two-time U.S. Open champion what advice do you have for all the
players out there this week and how would you play the course had you been out
there this week?
ANDY NORTH: Well, I think the most important thing is
try to figure out how to get your tee shot into the first fairway into the wind.
That's going to be a very difficult tee shot. Every player is a little bit
different. You've got to figure out what your strengths are. And then you've
got to play within those strengths the best you can. If it's laying up on holes
or being aggressive, that's something you have to figure out in your preparation
for the event. There's not one idea or plan that fits everybody. You watch
Dustin Johnson play, he plays a lot differently than Rickie Fowler as far as
strategy and that sort of thing. You have to figure it out. The key is you
have to figure it out. You have to figure out what's best for you and try to
play within it.
Q. What does it say about U.S. Open, what does
it say about golf here in the state of Wisconsin, are you hoping another U.S.
Open might be played here again?
ANDY NORTH: Well, I think you start
looking at Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, they're great golfing areas.
Our season is different than the people that live in the south. You get a day
that's 45 degrees and the sun is is out, shoot, go out and play, it's beautiful.
You've got high activity amongst the golfers in this state. It's great to get
a big event here to come out and watch it. The number of kids that come out
this week, I hope there are a ton of them, to watch how they handle themselves,
which can will help increase the activity of the kids and is hopefully lead to
some more good players down the road.
Q. A lot of talk has
surrounded the 9th hole, that par-3 can play really tough. I want your thoughts
on the 18th, could play into the wind, the wind at your back, and could decide
things on the final day?
ANDY NORTH: I've never been a huge fan of a par
5 at the end unless it's a hole like the 18th the Torrey Pines that all kinds of
stuff can happen. If you've got the lead and you're playing a par 5 and all you
need to do is make a par on the last hole, it's a pretty easy finish. Versus
the 18th hole last year where Dustin Johnson laid two great shots. It's hard to
make a par if you're trying to make a par to win.
The I think the nice
thing about 18 is no matter what direction the wind is, it's playable. If it's
into the wind your tee shot is going to be short of the bunkering, and you can
layup short of the next set of bunkers, and it's probably 5, 6, 7-iron for your
third shot, which is a lot of club to be playing into that green that's really
severe, particularly in the back part of the green, which is a little crazy, you
get a good shot, the ball rolls 50 yards off the green. I think it sets up
downwind. If you fit the ball in the fairway amongst the bunkers, you can hit a
swooper off to the right and get the ball to run up to the front part of the
green. I think it's a well-conceived hole for whichever way the wind
Q. Last six majors have been be won by someone who's
never won a major before. What do you make of that and what are your thoughts
ANDY NORTH: I think we go through those stretches. We've had
that in the past and it helps when Phil and Tiger aren't in the -- it was hard
to go six in a row when Tiger was playing his best. He's going to win one of
them. There's a ton of really good players.
There's a lot of the younger
players that are now getting into eight, nine, ten years on Tour, starting to
figure out how to play these events a little bit better. I think it shows the
depth and the fact that you don't have that one or two guys at the top that are
winning all the time. We could have another first time winner this
Q. If we go back to your first U.S. Open, do you recall
how long it took to play 18 holes on the Thursday and Friday? Why does it take
so much longer in your opinion?
ANDY NORTH: I wish I knew, but I believe
it was a little quicker than it will be this week. Cherry Hills is a much
smaller golf course, the next tee was 20 yards from the green, that sort of
thing. Where this week the walks in between, it's going to take a long time to
play. I can't imagine any rounds are going to be under five hours this week,
which is sad.
Q. Did you ever play the Dell hole here, the
ANDY NORTH: I did not. I understand I didn't miss anything
Q. Have you ever played a blind par-3?
NORTH: The way I've hit shots you might think I was the blind person, but
there's not a lot of those, no.
BETH MAJOR: Thank you so much for joining
us. We look forward to spending the week here in
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP
Rev #1 by #178 at 2017-06-12 18:33:00