Mike Davis must have aggravated Mother Nature, because she spent most of this month battering him like a piata.
Davis, executive director of the United States Golf Association and the man in charge of course setup at the U.S. Open, saw the weather ruin any chance of creating daunting conditions two weeks ago at Congressional in Bethesda, Md. Then, this past Monday and Tuesday, he visited San Francisco to check out the Olympic Club, site of next year's Open.
And -- surprise, surprise -- Davis got drenched.
"All I've ever heard is it never rains in June in San Francisco," he said. "I kind of chuckled (Tuesday), watching it pour, and said, 'Please don't let this happen next year.' "
Davis' work and the whims of weather are intertwined. The USGA absorbed unwarranted criticism in the wake of the Open at Congressional, where Rory McIlroy set the tournament scoring record at 16-under-par and no fewer than 20 players posted under-par totals.
It was an uncommon, extraordinary display at an event famous for punishing the world's finest players. The Open would lose its essential character, absolutely, if 20 players finished under par every year.
That won't happen on Davis' watch. Just look at the previous five Opens, in which seven players total finished under par -- two at Torrey Pines in 2008 (when Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate tied at 1-under) and five at Bethpage Black in 2009 (when Lucas Glover won at 4-under).
Graeme McDowell won with an even-par score last year at Pebble Beach. Geoff Ogilvy ('06 at Winged Foot) and Angel Cabrera ('07 at Oakmont) each won at 5-over.
This history is relevant when peering ahead to next year's national championship on Olympic's Lake Course. In the wake of this year's low scoring, Robert Garrigus, who tied for third at Congressional, predicted a winning score of 8-over next year. He suggested USGA officials would exact payback for all the red numbers.
It was a logical observation, especially given what happened at Winged Foot in 1974 -- many players thought Johnny Miller's final-round 63 at Oakmont in '73 prompted an over-the-top set-up the next year. (To this day, former USGA President Sandy Tatum strongly denies the connection.)
Davis, who coincidentally had dinner with Tatum on Tuesday night, does not seem like one to seek retribution. He couldn't substantively change the conditions at Congressional, not after a heat wave the week before the Open stunted the growth of the rough and frequent rain during the tournament made the greens soft.
"I find comments like those (by Garrigus) very interesting -- you can see why players would think that," Davis said. "But you will not see us retaliate next year. We could have done a few very minor things at Congressional to make it a little harder, but that's just not us. ...
"I think people's perception is we're a lot more bothered by the scoring than we are. We understand exactly what happened, and we're OK with it. We're not going to set up stupid hole locations just because of the scoring."
Olympic figured to return the Open to its grinding history, no matter the scores at Congressional. The Lake Course relinquished zero under-par totals the last time it hosted the Open, when Lee Janzen (at even-par) pushed past the late Payne Stewart in 1998.
The layout alongside Lake Merced, known for its sloping fairways and small greens, will present a stouter challenge than it did in '98. Club officials have removed hundreds of trees since then, creating potentially windier conditions. Tour pros hate nothing more than wind.
Plus, by converting No. 1 from a short par-5 to a long par-4, Davis cemented what he called "the toughest start" to any U.S. Open he can remember. Nos. 2, 3, 5 and 6 all are much longer than they were in '98, forming a wicked stretch sure to derail many players.
The conventional thinking at Pebble Beach always has been to score on the first seven holes. At Olympic, the mantra will be: Survive the first six.
Olympic could prove more generous in other ways. The club's conversion to bentgrass greens means they will hold up better, and putts will roll more reliably than in the past (on bumpy poa-annua greens).
"I think you'll see more putts made in the U.S. Open next year than in other Opens," Davis said.
There also could be excitement down the stretch, with back-to-back par-5s at Nos. 16 and 17. And don't expect an encore to the '98 fiasco at No. 18, where a precarious second-round hole location left several players, including Stewart, steamed. Davis is too smart to let that happen again.
Now he simply needs to make sure it doesn't rain in June in San Francisco.