No 6 at Oakland Hills the latest to play shorter

By Associated PressAugust 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Jay Haas knew something was different when he got to the 387-yard sixth hole Friday at Oakland Hills and looked at the pristine turf.
There was not a single divot, Haas said.
Players typically hit an iron, but not in the second round of the PGA Championship. In what is quickly becoming a trend at the majors, the tee was moved forward to make the hole play only 300 yards and give players the option of trying to drive the green.
I think they just cut us a break, Brandt Snedeker said. I think they were feeling bad for us.
There werent many deep discussions over club selection. It was simply a matter of where to hit it.
The answer: Dont miss it right.
Thats what Angel Cabrera did, which turned a potential birdie into a bogey as he was battling for the lead. One of the biggest hitters in golf, Cabreras tee shot wound up in the thick rough parallel to the front of the green, with a deep bunker between him and the green and a large slope when he got to the putting surface.
Except he never got there. Trying to play the perfect pitch, he came up short and went in the sand, blasted out to 5 feet and missed his par putt. Cabrera wound up with a 72 and was still in good shape at 2-over 142.
Most everyone else simply tried to bash it left of the green, which left a simple angle to the hole between two humps. J.B. Holmes was an exception. He hit it onto the green and two-putted for birdie on his way to a 68.
It popped in my head to lay it down in the fairway and hit a shot down there, Holmes said. If the pin was easier, you might have saw a bit more of that. But where they put the pin, its pretty much impossible. You have to try to get up where you can chip on.
Even though the hole played 300 yards, it is slightly uphill and played into a 10 mph wind, so only the longest hitters had much hope of reaching the green.
And while it was easier'No. 6 was the eighth-toughest hole in the first round and second-easiest in the second'not everyone was ready to christen it as the most exciting hole. It certainly wont challenge No. 10 at Riviera as among the greatest short par 4s in golf, the 17th at Oakmont or even the 17th at the TPC Scottsdale.
Just because its a shorter hole doesnt make it a great hole, said Tom Lehman, who missed the green left and chipped to about 5 feet for birdie. The green is what makes the short holes.
I thought it was forced, Kevin Sutherland said.
This was the second time at the majors this year that forward tees were used to allow players to reach the green. The other was the 14th hole at Torrey Pines in the final round and in the playoff of the U.S. Open.
(Forward tees were used at Royal Birkdale, but that was to allow players to reach the fairway).
Some courses have built-in par 4s that allow for risk and reward, such as the 321-yard sixth hole at Winged Foot, although the prudent play was an iron to the fairway. Fans urged John Daly to give it crack in the 1997 PGA Championship. Not so surprisingly, the Wild Thing obliged and smacked his tee shot off the roof of a corporate tent.
The 17th hole at Oakmont is 313 yards, and it might have decided the U.S. Open last year when Jim Furyk tried to drive the green. He missed it left of a bunker, could barely advance his wedge out of the thick grass and took bogey, finishing one shot behind.
Also last year, the 14th hole at Royal Montreal during the Presidents Cup had forward tees, with water down the right side. It had some thrilling moments, although the most memorable was Woody Austin trying to hit out of the hazard and falling face first into the lake.
We wanted to give them a choice, said Kerry Haigh managing director of championships for the PGA of America who is in charge of setting up the course. Its an exciting part of golf.
The PGA Championship already is looking ahead to next year at the possibility of moving the tees forward on the 14th at Hazeltine, and Henrik Stenson of Sweden approves.
You always very much like to have a drivable par 4, especially around 14 or 15, late in the round, Stenson said. It could lead to a two-shot swing.
But on this hole, the only serious damage was not making par. One of the bogeys belonged to Mark Calcavecchia, who missed his tee shot to the right. Thats not what caused the bogey, however.
I stepped on my (expletive) ball, Calcavecchia said. Thats all you need to know about the sixth hole.
It is strange, however, that golf courses keep getting lengthened, only for tournament officials to move tees forward during the competition. Its all about giving them'and the players'some options.
But perhaps the best idea came from Shaun Segars, the caddie for Sutherland.
If they want a short par 4, he said, they could just back up the tees on No. 9.
The ninth hole is 257 yards, the longest par 3 at Oakland Hills.
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    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

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    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

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    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

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    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.