Medinah's too easy? Here's Misery Links

Updated: August 21, 2006, 12:28 PM ET
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

MEDINAH, Ill. -- That's it. Enough's enough. No major should be embarrassed like this.

Poor Medinah Country Club didn't know what hit it during the third round of Saturday's PGA Championship. Twenty-eight players broke par, including Mike Weir and Tiger Woods, who set the course record with 65s. The longest layout in major history (7,561 yards) was more defenseless than Belgium.

Medinah never had a chance. There was no sun and only a rumor of wind. A Friday evening downpour turned the greens into Velcro. Every time you looked up, someone was sticking an iron shot to within Woods' waist size of the cup.

Woods -- surprise! -- is leading this thing. But five players are within five shots, 14 players within seven shots. That's because the leaderboard has more red than a blood bank. You've never seen so many tap-ins for birdies, so many chip-ins, so many Medinah members wondering if they can get their money back from redesign specialist Rees Jones.

"As I was watching on TV this morning, it seemed like everybody was 2 under, 3 under through three or four [holes], definitely 4 under through seven," Woods said. "It looked like it could be had out there."

Looked like? Eight of the 18 holes played below par Saturday.

"In most major championships, you make pars and sprinkle in a couple birdies here and there, you're looking pretty good," Woods said. " [Saturday] you would have been run over, which is different."

Something must be done to preserve the sanctity of this place, especially with the Ryder Cup coming here in 2012 and the PGA Championship likely to return, say, six or so years later. Of course, it's too late to do anything about Sunday's final round. Unless the course superintendent makes the rough chug Miracle-Gro, and the USGA imposes a two-club-per-bag maximum, Medinah is cooked.

But that doesn't mean we can't make it a teensy-weensy harder the next time the tour fellas visit the Chicagoland area.

Welcome to Misery Links. Architects: Stephen King and Pete Dye.

No. 1: Measuring only 366 yards, with wide fairways and a large, flat green devoid of any bunkers, this par-4 seems ridiculously easy. And it is, until PGA of America course setup expert Kerry Haigh signals marshals to "release the dogs." Nothing hurries swing tempo like Cujo bearing down at Mach 3.

No. 2: Except for having to carry a lob wedge over the 100-story-high Hancock Center, this playful 141-yard par-3 should cause little trouble for the pros.

No. 3: The 497-yard par-5 is reachable in two ... if a player can stop his second shot on the so-called "Postage Stamp" green. Don't laugh. The green is the actual size of a 39-cent stamp.

No. 4: The Northwestern marching band awaits the pros on the tee box of this picturesque 404-yard par-4. The horn and percussion sections, in particular, like to test a player's concentration during the middle of his backswing.

No. 5: The Dan Ryan Expressway provides an interesting -- and dangerous -- location for this 435-yard par-4 dogleg (you have to exit at 35th Street).

No. 6: If you can remember not to trip the land mines hidden along this 386-yard par-4 on Lakeshore Drive, you'll be fine.

No. 7: A driver and long iron should be more than enough to reach this 500-yard par-5. Easy. But good luck making a putt. According to the Stimpmeter reading, this green runs faster than a Six Flags Vertical Velocity ride.

No. 8: Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, enraged by more Paris Hilton rumors, rushes from the tee box's edge as you begin your shoulder turn on this delightful 100-yard par-3 at Soldier Field.

No. 9: The second shot is the key on this 390-yard par-4. A good drive puts you in position to reach the island green off Lake Michigan. However, the swim to the green itself is a bit dicey, especially in choppy waters.

No. 10: Nothing difficult about this 536-yard par-5, especially if you remember to bring an oxygen mask to protect you from the landfill's noxious fumes.

No. 11: Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen heckles you from the TV tower located directly above the green of this 192-yard par-3.

No. 12: The prevailing natural wind on this 438-yard par-4 is at the player's back. But King has positioned a pair of General Electric 90-115B jet engines directly in front of the tee box. The 115,000 pounds of thrust produced by each engine tends to knock down shots.

No. 13: A little-known local rule requires all players to play this tough 461-yard par-4 with nothing more than a salad fork and a pingpong ball.

No. 14: The short-order cooks from Billy Goat Tavern yell at you in Greek as you hit your approach shot into this heavily bunkered green on the 578-yard par-5.

No. 15: There's nothing tricky about this 393-yard par-4. And pay no attention to the Red Line "L" train that seems to run past the green during the middle of your birdie putt.

No. 16: Are those cottonmouth snakes roaming the fairway of this 432-yard par-4?

No. 17: The stadium-like setting on this 199-yard par-3 can be unsettling, especially when Cubs fans, led by Ozzy Osbourne, start singing, "Take Me Out To The Ballgame."

No. 18: This 443-yard par-4 finishing hole is even more difficult as Johnny Miller calls you a "choker" as you approach the tee box. And Woods' caddie, Steve Williams, threatens you with bodily harm if you try to sink any birdie attempts.

Now there's a scorecard we can't wait to add.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com.

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