Next Up for Ocean Course 2012 PGA Championship

By Associated PressMay 29, 2007, 4:00 pm
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- The winds were fierce, the fairways treacherous and No. 17 proved as difficult for the 50-and-over set last week at the Senior PGA Championship as it did for the world's best at the Ryder Cup 16 years earlier.
About the only thing that may need to be changed at The Ocean Course before the PGA Championship in 2012 is the soft, inviting sand in dunes and bunkers that led to too many plugged balls, unplayable lies and shattered nerves.
'I'm concerned about some of the ways the ball has plugged in bunkers,' said Roger Warren, president of Kiawah Island Golf Resort. 'I do think it's important that on a shot like that, the penalty they're incurring right now, I think, doesn't reflect what Pete Dye had designed for. So we're going to look at what we can do to make sure those balls at least become playable.'
One of the most critical plugs came Sunday when leader Eduardo Romero's tee shot to the par-3 14th sank deep into the sand. Romero lifted out and made a double bogey that cost him the tournament.
'I really felt bad for Eduardo,' champion Denis Watson said. 'He hit a pretty bad shot, but I question how they had the face of the bunkers this week. I thought that was unfair.'
Hale Irwin had a similar problem on the 16th hole Thursday, leading to a triple-bogey 8.
On Saturday, Brad Bryant and Jay Haas both had to lift out a bunker on par-5 second hole. Bryant made double bogey and Haas bogey.
Warren admitted it's a problem on the to-do list in the 1,900 days or so before 2012's final major is played. Warren expects the change to make the ball hittable from where it rests, or at least the balls roll to the bottom of the trap for a shot there.
Other than that, Warren was pleased.
So was the PGA of America, according to its chief executive Joe Steranka.
'When we look at a place where we're going to site out championships, we look for a place that going to challenge the great players,' he said.
Steranka, too, had concerns about the unplayable lies in bunkers, but is satisfied the problem won't happen again in five years. 'There's not much you need to do to this golf course,' he said.
Warren said the fairways might be converted to the paspalum grass that is on the greens. Organizers used the grass on the practice range and the first fairway.
Such a conversion would close the course, which averages about 20,000 rounds a year at $320 or so each, to complete. Warren thinks it's worth it to get ready for the PGA Championship.
Crowds were as expected and certainly 'good enough for a major,' Steranka said.
He figured on about 5,000 spectators the first two rounds with about double that on the weekends.
There won't be a shortage of interest come 2012 when Steranka and Warren expect in excess of 40,000 people a day for the PGA, nearly 60 percent more than the crowd at the 1991 Ryder Cup matches here.
Steranka has met with state leaders, including Gov. Mark Sanford, about improving roadways -- possibly extending an interstate so it comes closer to Kiawah Island.
Warren said Kiawah Island could clear as much as 300 acres of land outside the gates to park about 30,000 vehicles.
A series of buses shuttled fans the five miles or so from the parking lots to the course this past week and bottlenecks and traffic jams were scarce, Warren said.
Expect more viewing towers like the one behind the 17th hole, which Steranka said provided spectacular views of the course and ocean. Also expect more grandstands.
The course's length could be another problem.
Senior PGA officials adjusted yardage based on conditions. But it seems unlikely they'd let Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson hit into No. 17 from 158 yards -- the hole's distance during Saturday's third round.
'They're going to have to be very careful as to how they set it up,' said Nick Price, who finished third at 5-under behind Watson and Romero. 'Because if you have a day where the wind blew like it did off some of those tees, I mean, there's just no bail out. That's the thing that's hard on this golf course.'
With driving distances seemingly always increasing, who knows how far PGA TOUR pros will be hitting it in 2012. Could The Ocean Course crack 8,000 yards?
'We play very long golf courses for PGA Championships,' Steranka said.
Related Links:
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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."