Another man will also be absent, someone who won’t be the subject of very much discussion and won’t care even a little bit if his name isn’t mentioned all week: David B. Fay. For 21 years, Fay didn’t just attend the U.S. Open; he ran the U.S. Open as executive director of the United States Golf Association. Last December, having just turned 60, he retired. So, instead of running the Open this week he will — more or less — be running from the Open.
“I might sneak in wearing a cap and sunglasses for one of the practice rounds,” he said last week. “But I’m not even sure I’ll do that. I mean, seriously, why would I go? At this point in my life, I’m a lot more interested in my own golf game than in the guys who will be playing in the Open.”
This will be the second Open Fay has missed since 1978. In 1979, he spent his honeymoon in Toledo, putting up the ropes at Inverness for that year’s Open. From 1979 through 2010, Fay missed one Open: Shinnecock Hills in 1986, after he had spent almost six months in the hospital receiving radical treatment for Burkitt’s lymphoma, a rare form of cancer.
“They let me out [of the hospital] on Thursday,” he said. “My plan was to drive to Shinnecock and work on Friday. The minute I got home, my fever spiked, and I ended up back in the hospital for another month.”
Three years after surviving cancer, Fay succeeded Frank Hannigan as the USGA’s executive director.
Even though one of Fay’s jobs in later years was to appear occasionally on television to explain rules issues, he preferred to operate under the radar. A liberal Democrat living in a decidedly Republican world, he had a unique approach to the job.
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