Love and Olazabal like what they see at Medinah

By Associated PressSeptember 26, 2011, 9:43 pm

MEDINAH, Ill. – Ryder Cup captains Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal liked what they saw at Medinah Country Club, including the shortened No. 15.

Rain kept Love and Olazabal from playing the famed No. 3 on Monday, as they marked the one-year countdown to next year’s Ryder Cup. But they did get out to look at some holes, and said they don’t envision many changes being needed.

“I cannot imagine a better host for this event,” Olazabal said. “It’s a traditional, tree-lined course, and I think the changes you’ve done to the15th hole, I think last four holes are going to be very exciting for the matches in the year to come. … The last four holes are perfect for match play. You have a combination of two tough holes, 16 and 18, and two exciting holes, 15 and 17.”

Since the PGA Championship was at Medinah in 2006, No. 15 has been shortened 100 yards and is now a drivable par-4. A lake was also added on the right side of the fairway and green.

“I can see a lot of things going on in that hole, guys going for the green, guys being safe,” Olazabal said. “With that little change on 15, those last few holes are going to be very, very interesting. That’s what you need in match play. You have to have holes where risk-reward can be part of it.”

Europe has won six of the last eight Ryder Cups, including last year’s dramatic finish in Wales. The Ryder Cup was decided by the final singles match for the first time since 1991 after the Americans rallied from a three-point deficit on the last day.

As the host, the Americans will get a say in how the course is set up for the Ryder Cup, to be played next Sept. 25-30. But Love said he doubts he’ll need to have much input. Medinah has hosted three U.S. Opens (1949, 1975 and 1990) along with two PGA Championships (1999 and 2006). It also hosted the 1988 U.S. Senior Open.

Set No. 3 up for the Ryder Cup as if it was a major championship, and Love said it will be fine.

“I don’t think you have to do too much to this golf course,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s a way for it to be an advantage one way or another. We’re both going to have super-talented, long-hitting teams that make a lot of birdies. What’s the most exciting thing to watch, for me, is making birdies rather than putting for pars. If I was setting up the PGA TOUR course, I would lean more toward birdies than putting for pars.”

Though there were some criticisms about No. 3 earlier this summer – the new grass that was planted in the fall of 2009 was sparse – Medinah officials are confident the course will be in good shape next year.

All golf courses were challenged by the extreme weather this summer, said Curtis Tyrrell, Medinah’s director of golf course operations. But No. 3 is only halfway through its growing timeline, and Tyrrell said it is in “excellent shape” now.

“We feel very confident about where it will stand next year,” Tyrrell said.

Aside from No. 15, the only other change that might be noticeable is the absence of the “Sergio tree,” the massive old oak on No. 16 made famous by Sergio Garcia.

At the 1999 PGA at Medinah, Garcia was chasing Tiger Woods when his tee shot on 16 sailed wide right and settled behind the knotted roots of a large oak tree. Garcia grabbed a 6-iron, closed his eyes, swung and then sprinted out to the fairway to watch the ball land on the green. Fans were delighted by his exuberance, even if Garcia wound up falling short, and “the tree” is still mentioned in any recounting of the Spaniard’s career highlights.

But the old oak was removed about two years ago, Tyrrell said.

“It had become a hazard and a safety risk to members, so it needed to be removed,” he said.

While Olazabal and Love are still negotiating, they said they are leaning to keeping four assistant captains for each team. Olazabal also said he would not play even if he earns enough points to get a spot on the European team.

“I gave my word that I was going to be captain. With that, there is a lot of responsibility, a lot of things you have to do,” said Olazabal, whose “Spanish armada” partnership with Seve Ballesteros is the most successful in Ryder Cup history. “There are many things you have to do during that week, and I don’t think you can do both things at the same time.”

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.