Point/Counterpoint: Is Straits set up too easy?

Darren Clarke called it the toughest par-77 he'd ever seen. Lee Westwood said there were eight very hard holes and 10 impossible ones. And just about every other player sensed Whistling Straits was about to eat them alive.

And then Thursday's first round came. And Clarke shot a 65. And Justin Leonard and Ernie Els shot 66s. And a whole heap of players shot under par for the day.

Which brings up the question: Did the PGA of America set up Whistling Straits too easy on Thursday? As usual, the discussion turned into an argument which turned into a bare-knuckle boxing match, but in the end, we decided words were the best way to settle this issue.

Did the PGA of America set up the course too easy?

If you watched last year's British Open at Royal St. George's or this year's U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, you saw hilly fairways which couldn't hold a drive, pot bunkers with ladders attached just to get out of, and baked greens slicker than formica. The players whined, the players complained, and the players had to shoot right around par to contend in the tournaments.

And what's wrong with that?

Many people thought this week's PGA Championship would be a repeat of those two. A monster of a course at 7,514 yards, players were saying a score over par could win the tournament.

Instead, the PGA of America swooped in to save the day. Like the sweet old grandpa who spends hundreds in a toy store, the PGA didn't want to see its kids suffer, then wail and cry if they didn't get their way. So, rather than a 70, a few 71s and a bunch of 72s, the PGA Championship leaderboard resembled that of the Reno-Tahoe Open, with 66s and 67s throughout -- and even a 65 at the top.

Yep, that's right. Darren Clarke made nine birdies en route to the round of the day. Toughest course ever? This might not wind up being the toughest PGA Tour course in the Greater Milwaukee area, as 13 under won the U.S. Bank Championship at nearby Brown Deer Park last month.

By moving up tees and making easy pin placements, the PGA of America has tamed Whistling Straits into a quiet beast. They wouldn't have it any other way.
-- Jason Sobel

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