Notes Tough to Hit Greens at Shinnecock

By Associated PressJune 16, 2004, 4:00 pm
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- It's not easy keeping the ball on the slick, sloping greens at Shinnecock Hills.
 
Tom Byrum learned the hard way during a practice round.
 
At No. 13, with a stiff wind blowing in his face, Byrum hit five shots from about 110 yards - two from the rough, three more from the middle of the fairway.
 
Only one was on the green when Byrum walked up - clinging to the front left edge. Two balls came up short, another rolled off the back, the other slid off the right side.
 
It was the same situation at the par-3 17th, where the wind was blowing from the left as groups approached the 179-yard hole.
 
The foursome of Chad Campbell, Chris Riley, Kevin Sutherland and Chris Smith each hit two balls toward the green.
 
Of the eight shots, one hit the green and bounced over. The other seven didn't even come that close.
 
'Is it time to go home yet?' Smith said.
 
According to Phil Mickelson, that's not even the toughest par-3 on the course. His vote goes to famous No. 7, known as 'Redan.'
 
'I think the percentage of players who hit that green in regulation will be less than 20 percent,' he said. 'With that being the case, if you play it 2 over for the four rounds, that would be a pretty good score.'
 
Sergio Garcia put it a different way after watching Ernie Els strike a 4-iron about 6 feet right of the flag - and wind up in the left bunker.
 
'If you hit 17 greens, you should get 100 percent for greens in regulation,' Garcia said, 'because it's almost impossible to hit that green.'
 
SERGIO STLL LOVES NEW YORK
Sergio Garcia was heckled mercilessly during the last U.S. Open on Long Island.
 
Still, he never considered staying away from this one.
 
Coming off a win at the Buick Classic, Garcia is among a lengthy list of favorites at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, where the Open begins Thursday.
 
Two years ago at Bethpage Black, Garcia was targeted by rowdy fans who counted his incessant waggles and made wisecracks about then-girlfriend Martina Hingis.
 
'I never had a doubt about coming back to New York,' he said. 'I just think it was a minority of the whole crowd. I felt like a lot of people were behind me. There was just this little group that was a little bit louder than the rest, and you could hear them more. But I felt like they were still very good to me.'
 
Garcia had no complaints after a practice round Tuesday.
 
'New York has been great to me,' he said. 'Everybody was congratulating me. It was nice to see. And I'm sure they're going to be great all week long.'
 
FURYK'S CHALLENGE
Jim Furyk has no illusions about defending his U.S. Open championship. After five months off from tournament golf, he's just happy to be playing.
 
Furyk surprised everyone by showing up at Shinnecock Hills on Monday, with every intention of playing. If his surgically repaired wrist doesn't give him any trouble before then, he plans to tee it up Thursday morning in the traditional pairing with the British Open and U.S. Amateur winners.
 
'My game is a little rusty, it's not in shape,' Furyk said. 'I'm going to have to hang in there and do the best I can.'
 
Furyk's best last year at Olympia Fields was better than anyone else. He tied the Open record of 272 and won by three shots over Stephen Leaney for his first major championship title.
 
But until last week he thought he'd be watching the Open on television. He had surgery March 22 to repair torn cartilage in his left wrist, and said then he wouldn't be playing in the Open.
 
Furyk said he began practicing recently and played a few rounds with his wrist feeling good. He checked with his surgeon, who gave him the OK to compete.
 
'The therapy right now is basically the golf,' he said. 'I put enough pressure on it and doing enough out there that it's getting stronger for the golf.'
 
Furyk said he is realistic about his chances at perhaps the toughest course anyone will play on the PGA Tour this year.
 
'I'm throwing myself into the fire this week, coming to the U.S. Open and not playing for as long as I have and playing a difficult golf course set up this tough,' he said. 'It's going to be a tough week, I'm going to have to grind it out.'
 
COLOMBIAN WAVE
Camilo Villegas and Oscar Alvarez are the first players from Colombia to play in the U.S. Open. For Villegas, it's even more exciting - this is his first tournament as a pro.
 
'It's pretty special,' Villegas said. 'The first time a Colombian plays in an Open and it's two of us. It's my first tournament as a professional, and the entire country is following us.'
 
Both Villegas and Alvarez played college golf in the United States - Villegas at Florida and Alvarez at BYU.
 
Both also made it into the Open through qualifying, though Alvarez had to win a playoff after shooting 77 in his second qualifying round.
 
DIVOTS
First-time major winners have captured six in a row, beginning with Rich Beem at the 2002 PGA Championship. He was followed by Mike Weir ('03 Masters), Jim Furyk (U.S. Open), Ben Curtis (British Open), Shaun Micheel (PGA) and Phil Mickelson ('04 Masters). ... Tiger Woods wrote in his name for the first tee time of Wednesday's practice round. If anyone had thoughts of joining him, someone else scribbled underneath, 'Don't even think about it!' ... There's been plenty of parity on the PGA Tour. Vijay Singh has won three times. Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia are two-time winners. Fifteen others have one victory apiece.
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.