Notes TPC at Sawgrass Turns 25

By Associated PressMarch 23, 2005, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Dean Beman had played enough tournament golf -- and dodged enough periscopes -- to know there had to be a better way for people to watch his sport.
 
'People would walk 4 or 5 miles and only see four or five holes,' said Beman, former PGA Tour commissioner.
 
And so he came up with stadium golf, first showcased to so-so reviews at the inaugural Tournament Players Championship in 1980. Beman contacted famed architect Pete Dye. The two helped create the Stadium Course at Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass.
 
'We really thought it would be something that would kick the game and get it going,' said Dye, who was given the PGA Tour's Lifetime Achievement Award on Wednesday.
 
The layout features rolling mounds where fans can watch action on several holes at once. Beman said common areas designed to better route spectators were also part of the plan. While some golfers had problems with Dye's difficult layout -- 'They don't snarl at me as they go by anymore,' Dye joked -- it was a hit with ticket buyers who until then trusted clunky cardboard periscopes to see their favorite stars.
 
Beman said he thought of the idea in the early 1960s, but couldn't put into practice until 1979 when PGA Tour headquarters moved to Florida from Washington and construction began on the Stadium Course.
 
Dye and Beman 'gave us a snapshot of what the future of golf was going to look like,' said Steve Elkington, a two-time winner at The Players Championship.
 
Dye didn't think the design would have that much of an impact. 'But I'm sure (Beman) did,' Dye said. 'I'm sure he was thinking way beyond what I did about what would happen to the PGA Tour.'
 
The are 23 TPC courses across the country, 10 of which hold Tour events including the recently opened TPC of Louisiana that's hosting the Zurich Classic of New Orleans next month.
 
Beman smiles when asked what his notion meant to the sport. 'I think stadium golf is something we're going to keep refining and growing over the years,' Beman said.
 
DORAL BUZZ
Phil Mickelson's first thought at seeing Tiger Woods hit a ball out of bounds at Bay Hill last Sunday?
 
'Where was that' at Doral? Mickelson said.
 
If Woods had done that three weeks ago at the Ford Championships at Doral, it might have been Mickelson holding the trophy instead of Tiger.
 
But Woods shot a closing 66 and overcame Mickelson's two-stroke lead in a finish that electrified everyone who watched two of golf's biggest names duel it out at the Blue Monster.
 
Mickelson said Wednesday he was thrilled by the battle.
 
'I want to take him on at his best because that's the greatest barometer as a player is knowing how (Woods) is playing and trying to beat him at his best,' Mickelson said.
 
Mickelson's adrenaline surged when Woods made eagle on the par-5 12th that put him in front for the first time.
 
'I actually loved the fact that he made eagle, that he was playing his best and I had the chance to try and beat him head-to-head,' Mickelson said. 'I wasn't able to do it, but I came close.'
 
The Players Championship is Mickelson's first tournament since then.
 
EMERALD ISLE
Padraig Harrington says the shrinking planet and golf's worldwide expansion have improved the fortunes of Irish golfers such as himself.
 
Harrington won the Honda Classic two weeks ago, while countryman Des Smyth took the SBC Classic on the Champions Tour the same day.
 
And the Emerald Isle kept its sparkle last week when Graeme McDowell of Northern Island tied for second behind champion Kenny Perry at the Bay Hill Invitiational.
 
Harrington says Ireland has always had world-class golfers.
 
'I think what's happening now is maybe there's more access to playing a worldwide schedule,' Harrington said. 'In the times of Des Smyth when he was playing well in his early years and Christie O'Connor Jr. they didn't get the opportunity to show their game but in a Ryder Cup or one or two events.
 
'We've got more opportunity to play around the world,' he says, 'and that's why we're probably showing up a little bit more.'
 
DIVOTS
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said that as the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass celebrates its 25th year, the Tour will look at some 'infrastructure renewal' projects at its TPC clubs across the country to make sure they're up to modern-day standards. ... It seems only the weather can derail Vijay Singh's tournament preparation. Rain and thunderstorms in the area kept him to only 15 holes and little range time at The Players Championship before Wednesday. 'Hopefully, it doesn't rain so I can get prepared properly,' he said. ... Darren Clarke says he'd use whatever club off the 18th tee that would go straight. How about a putter, it was suggested. 'I can't hit that straight either,' Clarke laughed.
 
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''