Notes: Heat affects planning, course conditions at Congressional

By Associated PressJune 15, 2011, 11:44 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – The year’s first major dose of stifling weather came and went last week in suburban Washington, D.C., but it’s still having an effect on the U.S. Open.

Temperatures that flirted with 100 degrees stunted the growth of the grass at Congressional Country Club. Crews had to cut back on the number of mowings and rollings. The heat, combined with a long dry spell, got officials behind as they prepared the Blue Course.

“Last week was brutal,” said Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA, who is in charge of setting up the course. “We had not only humidity, but the temperatures were way up. We had to come into this Open not exactly where we want to be.”

The USGA likes to have the course in its ideal U.S. Open setup when players arrive Monday for the first practice rounds. Instead, the rough wasn’t quite as high as hoped, and the greens weren’t playing at the targeted speed.

The revised goal is to have the course ready by Thursday’s first round.

“We are delighted where this golf course is right now,” said Tom O’Toole, chairman of the USGA’s championship committee, “and we think it’s well prepared to test the greatest players in the world.”

The good news for golfers and fans is that temperatures aren’t expected to return to the 90s during the tournament. The bad news: Scattered thunderstorms are a possibility every day.

SCRAMBLING OVER FRIED EGGS: Fried eggs are on the menu at the U.S. Open.

The Blue Course at Congressional has a different type of sand than the norm, and that could lead to some unsavory lies – the ones that are half-buried in the bunker.

“I suspect we’re going to get some fried eggs this week, I really do,” said Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA. “Having said that, we don’t want a plethora of them, and that’s one of the things we’ll be looking at very carefully.

“We get in these bunkers and we test them,” Davis said. “There’s even firmness measurements that we can take. It’s not a perfect science, and some of the bunkers if we do the same thing to every bunker, some of them that are south facing that get more sun, they dry out and get puffier a little faster than some of the other ones.”

Davis said the USGA is determined to make the bunkers genuine hazards.

“That’s the nature of golf,” he said. “In my opinion it’s like hitting it down the middle of the fairway, you hope you’re going to get a good lie, you’ll probably get a good lie, but it may end up in a divot. It’s the same with a bunker. If you hit a high powering shot in the bunker and it’s coming down almost vertically, there’s a good chance this week you’re going to get a fried egg, or at least it’s going to be a little cuppy.”

HOT TICKET: The U.S. Open keeps drawing a crowd.

The USGA said Wednesday that the tournament is sold out for the 25th straight year. Some 35,000 fans are expected each day of the championship.

Such a popular event presents special challenges in the area around traffic-congested Washington, D.C. The USGA secured about 15,000 satellite parking spaces, and they’re running 475 buses each day. They only needed 275 last year at Pebble Beach.

USGA President Jim Hyler said was asked if the logistics might affect Congressional’s chances of hosting the event again.

“Who knows about the future?” Hyler said. “We’re just trying to get through this week and have a successful U.S. Open this week.”

LEAVE THE CELLPHONE AT HOME: U.S. Open crowds might be only remaining mass gatherings of people in America in which no one has a cellphone.

While the PGA Tour has started allowing cellphones at tournaments, the USGA isn’t ready to follow suit at its big events.

“We put competition first and foremost,” said Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA. “We’re focused on fans, but if we were totally focused on fans you’d have the rope lines closer to play. We’re more focused on the competition itself. And until we as an organization are convinced that we can conduct a U.S. Open, a Women’s Open, U.S. Amateur, Girls’ Junior, with spectators using cell phones, we’re going to continue to prohibit them.”

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.