Beast of a Course Awaits at Baltusrol

By Associated PressAugust 8, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PGA ChampionshipSPRINGFIELD, N.J. ' SPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- Chad Campbell stood next to his ball in the middle of the 17th fairway at Baltusrol when a man behind the ropes called out, Go for the green.
 
If he could have heard Campbells caddie, he would have known better to say such a thing.
 
Youve got 349 to the hole, the caddie said.
 
The PGA Championship on paper offers a dramatic finish at Baltusrol, with the only two par 5s on the final two holes. But the 17th is not the garden-variety par 5.
 
17th Hole - Baltusrol GC
The 17th hole at Baltusrol will measure in at 650 yards this week.
It measures 650 yards, the longest in major championship history. Most players believe Tiger Woods and John Daly, perhaps even Vijay Singh, are the only players who can get home in two if the conditions are ripe. For everyone else, it will be a conventional, three-shot hole.
 
Or maybe even worse.
 
That the only hole that doesnt make a lot of sense, Davis Love III said. If you miss the fairway by like 4 feet, it becomes a (par) 6.
 
The 17th is difficult from the start, a drive that is slightly crimped by two trees that looks like goal posts. Thick rough and trees line both sides of the fairway, and players must hit their second shot over cross bunkers.
 
Stephen Leaney of Australia hit a good tee shot and used a 3-wood to lay up about 110 yards short of the elevated green. Walking down the fairway, he took another ball out of his bag and threw it down short of the bunkers, hitting a long iron toward the green.
 
Leaney wanted to practice that shot in case he hit his tee shot into the rough. Some players wont be able to clear the cross bunkers, meaning they would have to play short of them and have a 230-yard shot to the green.
 
We dont play many par 5s like that, Leaney said.
 
Love and Justin Leonard could only think of one other three-shot par 5 they play on the PGA Tour, and that would be the 667-yard 16th hole at Firestone. But even there, Woods has reached in two.
 
This might be different.
 
Asked if anyone could reach the 17th in two shots, Campbell thought long and hard.
 
Tiger, if anybody. But I dont think anybody can, not to put anything past Tiger, he said.
 
He paused again, then added, Put Daly in there, too.
 
Indeed, it was a short list of candidates for a long course.
 
Daly is the only player to reach the green in two, with a 1-iron for his second shot in the 1993 U.S. Open, a shot that scampered through the bunker and onto the green. But the hole is 20 yards longer than it was a dozen years ago, and the heavy air of August wont allow the ball to go as far.
 
Im going to play 17 like 99.9 percent of everybody else, Darren Clarke said. Try and hit the fairway and try and leave yourself a sand wedge in. Its 650 yards and not an awful lot of roll on the ball. Even for the longest guys this week, its going to be a pretty tough hole to reach in two.
 
The hole doesnt really favor anybody the way its playing at the moment, he said. Its going to be a three-shotter for everybody.
 
Woods didnt get the chance Monday morning during a practice round for the PGA Championship. He hit his tee shot well into the rough and played it as a conventional par 5. And if he had hit the fairway?
 
Its 650 yards, said his caddie, Steve Williams, as if the question was the most absurd he had ever heard.
 
What about a monster drive and a 3-wood?
 
A 300-yard drive, you still have 350, he said. And then he repeated for emphasis, Its 650 yards.
 
That one hole says a lot for Baltusrol, which is the longest course of the majors this year at 7,392 yards, but still not as meaty as Whistling Straits (7,514 yards) in Wisconsin last year at the PGA Championship.
 
It only seems that way.
 
The air was thick and heavy with clouds that threatened to burst open with showers on the first full day of practice for the final major, keeping the ball from going great lengths. Love doesnt profess to be an expert in math, but the Lower Course felt much longer than when he played the U.S. Open in 1993.
 
I dont think it adds up to 7,400 yards, Love said. Youve got 17 and 18 that are 1,200 yards, and 6 and 7 are 1,000 yards.
 
Small wonder that when a spectator asked him what he thought about the course as Love played the eighth hole, he called out over his shoulder, Hit it 300 yards and straight every time and youll be perfect.
 
Thats what awaits the 156-man field of professionals when the PGA Championship begins on Thursday, the final major of a year dominated by a familiar face.
 
Woods already has won multiple majors for the third time in the last five years, adding to his cache by capturing the Masters in a playoff and the British Open wire-to-wire at St. Andrews, winning by five.
 
He again is the prohibitive favorite at Baltusrol because of his sheer power, although he left the course just before lunch after sticking two tees in the turf the width of his putter and working on his putting, the same drill he used in the days leading to the British Open.
 
Still, Woods is no longer considered unbeatable like he was in 2000, when he won the final three majors and nine of the 20 tournaments he entered on the PGA Tour.
 
There definitely was a perception if he was in the field he was going to win'at that time, Lee Janzen said. I think the perception now is that hes the guy to beat, but I dont think guys think its a given that hes going to win. But hes definitely the player to beat. He just thinks differently than the rest of us do.
 
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  • Whan details LPGA changes for 2018 and beyond

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 8:56 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – The Race to the CME Globe’s season-long series and its big-bang finish at the CME Group Tour Championship are secured for another six years.

    Tour commissioner Mike Whan announced a contract extension with CME Group through 2023 in his annual state-of-the-tour address Thursday at the Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Whan also outlined changes to next year’s tournament schedule and detailed specifics of the revamp of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, with a new Q-School Series devised as the final stage beginning next year.

    Highlights from Whan’s address:

    Extending the CME Race . . .

    The Race to the CME Globe, a season-long competition for a $1 million jackpot, will be played at least six more years, with Whan announcing a contract extension through 2023.

    “We’re pretty excited about that,” Whan said.

    The LPGA is also close to finalizing details that will keep the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club.

    2018 schedule will include two new West Coast events . . .

    The LPGA is likely going to lose three events next year, but it will gain three new ones, leaving the tour with 34 events, including the UL International Crown. That’s the same number of events being played this year. Total prize money is expected to reach $69 million, up from the record $65 million played for this season.


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    The Manulife LPGA Classic in Canada is off next year’s schedule, and the Lorena Ochoa Match Play also is not expected to return. The McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open is not returning, but only because it is sliding off the schedule to move up early on the 2019 schedule.

    Whan said two new West Coast events are being added, and they will be positioned on the calendar next to the Lotte Championship in Hawaii, to give players more reasons to stay out west.

    Whan said there’s also a new international event being added to the schedule, but details of the new events won’t be released until the full schedule is released sometime after Thanksgiving.

    “I hope you’ll agree that stability and predictability haven’t always been the calling card of the LPGA, but it has been the last few years,” Whan said. “I’m proud to tell you that the revenues of the LPGA in the last five or six years are up almost 90 percent. We have added 20 title sponsors and over 20 official marketing partners in the last five or six years. Don’t know too many sports that could claim that.”

    Q-School officially overhauled . . .

    Whan said the LPGA Qualifying Tournament will still be played in three stages next year, but the final stage will get a makeover as the Q-School Series.

    The LPGA will continue to host first and second stages, but instead of a five-round final stage, there will be an eight-round finals series, with two four-round tournaments scheduled in back-to-back weeks in the same city, with cumulative scores used over eight rounds. The new Q-Series site will be announced early next year.

    A field of 108 will make the Q-Series finals, with 40 to 50 LPGA tour cards up for grabs.

    The Q-Series field will be filled by players finishing 101st to 150th on the LPGA money list, players finishing 31st to 50th on the Symetra Tour money list, with up to 10 players from among the top 75 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings who don’t have LPGA membership. Also, the field will include the top five in the Golfweek Sagarin College Rankings. The rest of the field will be filled by players advancing through Q-School’s second stage, which could be anywhere from 23 to 33 players, depending how many from the world rankings and college rankings choose to go to the Q-Series.

    Ryu, S.H. Park among winners at Rolex awards

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 5:51 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – The Rolex Player of the Year and Vare Trophy winners won’t be determined until Sunday’s finish of the CME Group Tour Championship, but seven other awards were presented Thursday during the LPGA’s Rolex Awards dinner at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort.

    The awards and winners:

    William and Mousie Powell Award – Katherine Kirk won an award given to the player “whose behavior and deeds best exemplify the spirit, ideals and values of the LPGA.” Kirk won the Thornberry Classic this year, her third LPGA title. “Some people ask me if I feel obligated to give back to the game,” Kirk said. “I think it’s a privilege.”

    Heather Farr Perseverance Award – Tiffany Joh, who had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma earlier this year, thanked the Farr family and all those who supported Joh through her diagnosis and recovery.

    “I found a great quote from Ram Dass, `We are all just walking each other home,’” Joh said. “I’ve really come to understand the value of all my relationships, no matter how fleeting or profound they seem.”

    The Commissioner’s Award – Roberta Bowman, outgoing chair of the LPGA Board of Directors, was honored for her service the last six years. LPGA commissioner Mike Whan called her “my friend, my boss and my hero.” Bowman deflected the praise for her back on to the tour, thanking Whan, LPGA staff, players, sponsors, fans and the media.

    “The world needs more role models for little girls,” Bowman said. “And they don’t need to look much farther than the LPGA.”

    Ellen Griffin Rolex Award and Nancy Lopez Golf Achievement Award – Sandy LaBauve, who founded the LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf program, was honored as the first person to win both these awards.

    The Griffin Award honors golf teachers and the Lopez Award honors an LPGA professional who emulates the values Lopez demonstrated. LaBauve is the daughter of Jack and Sherry Lumpkin, both teachers of the game.

    “This program doesn’t belong to me,” LaBauve said of LPGA-Girls’ Golf. “I merely planted the seed. The fruit belongs to all of us.”

    Rolex Annika Major Award – So Yeon Ryu won the award, named for Annika Sorenstam, for the best overall performance in women’s major championships this year. She won the ANA Inspiration and tied for third at the U.S. Women’s Open.

    “It’s such an honor to win an award named after Annika Sorenstam,” Ryu told Sorenstam during the presentation. “It’s a special award for me.”

    Rolex Rookie of the Year Award – Sung Hyun Park won the honor, telling the audience in a message translated from Korean that she was disappointed failing to win the KLPGA’s Rookie of the Year Award and was grateful for a dream come true getting the chance to win it on the LPGA.

    Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

    By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

    At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

    Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

    In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.


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    Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

    Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

    Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

    ''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

    ''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

    Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

    ''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

    ''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

    Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

    Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

    ''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

    Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

    Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

    ''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

    The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

    ''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

    The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

    ''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

    Joel Dahmen had a 64.


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    ''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

    ''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

    ''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

    ''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

    Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

    ''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

    Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

    Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

    Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.