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Bethpage Black, home to the 2009 US Open carries with it a big reputation. Largely, pun intended, it came from its national debut in 2002. But for those who didn’t feel its bite back then it can be an intimidating place. Paul Casey, currently ranked #3 in the world attested to the fact that its isn’t going to be a walk in the park.
“Certainly the finish is exceptionally strong. 15, 16, 17, 18 are brilliant,” Casey said. “15, 16, they seem to be extremely difficult fairways to find. It's imperative you find those, otherwise I don't think you're really going to get it on the green. There's a little opening on 16. You might be able to run it up if you're on the left side. But I wouldn't count your chickens.”
Distance is one challenge but even the shorter holes will be demanding he said. “ I think I know some of the things they're going to do from talking to the greens staff on Tuesday.” he began. “Holes like 14, the par-3, they're going to go with a front tee and a front left pin location, where the green's probably only five yards wide at the front and the hole will only play 130, 135, 140, maybe a little bit more than that. Yet it's terrifying because you've got nowhere to miss it. If you hit it long to the middle of the green you've got a treacherous putt down that slope. You miss it in the bunkers left or right, I don't think you can get it up-and-down,” he continued.
Casey, while acknowledging the intimidation factor is evident, is more than okay with the mind games that go with it. “I think it's brilliant when you can scare guys with a pitching wedge. It doesn't happen enough. And I wish it would happen more, holes like Postage Stamp or 17 at Sawgrass or whatever it is. They're brilliant holes, and there are a couple of them here. 8 will be another one. I'm sure they'll have the front tee and front left pin location on 8 as well,” he said.
“It's not just the length around here; it's the way they can set this up. They have options with the tees. And obviously brutal rough if you hit it far enough off line. But it's a combination. I think this is an exceptional golf course,” he added. Despite building a new home in Arizona, Casey joked the Black is a reason to consider relocation. “I would consider living in New York if I could play this at $45,” he said drawing laughter at his press conference. Chances are once Thursday rolls around the smiles will be gone and old man par might be the only one still chuckling...