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 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.'
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.'
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.
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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    After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

    Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

    Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

    On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

    Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

    After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

    Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

    A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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    Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

    By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

    PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

    At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

    “The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

    Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

    Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

    “Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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    Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

    By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

    PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

    Laura Davies won the day.

    It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

    Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

    Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

    For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

    In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

    “I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

    At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

    “It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

    Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

    “It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

    With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

    “People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

    “Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

    She also relished showing certain fans something.

    “Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

    Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

    In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

    Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

    “The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

    After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

    “I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

    Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

    In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

    “I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

    And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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    Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

    The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

    “Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

    And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

    After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

    “Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”