Numerous sand traps haunt players at Whistling Straits

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2010, 12:17 am

2010 PGA Championship

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – The muted green sign among the native grasses invites golfers into Whistling Straits. Just ahead the raised bunkers that dot the hill to the clubhouse look less hospitable.

While the most prominent feature that’ll be displayed this week at the 2010 PGA Championship will be the wind-swept views with Lake Michigan glistening in the background, all the sand will likely torment the pros.

“As soon as you drive through the gates, there’s bunkers there staring you in the face. So, I don’t see a golf course anywhere near there,” Hunter Mahan said. “They’re everywhere, really. I mean, I feel bad for the fans because it seems like you could be walking and all of sudden you’re falling in a hole of sand and don’t even know it.”

The number of bunkers at architect Pete Dye’s 1998 creation isn’t known. A recent Golf Digest article concluded there were 967.

“There’s so many of them. In a four-day tournament, you’re bound to be in some,” Zach Johnson said.

Course maintenance manager Michael Lee says the number of bunkers isn’t a secret.

So how many are there?

“It’s truly a fluid number because the property is so vast. What is along the lake? What is on the golf course? What’s on the (neighboring) Irish Course? Are the entry road bunkers part of the Straits course? Probably not. So, do you count those?” Lee said.

Nature also plays a role in reshaping the course every winter when the snow comes and goes.

“The winds blow here and it just blows the snow and sand right off the golf course,” Lee said. “You have bunkers that are created and some that are lost.”

In truth, there are less than 100 sand traps in play when the pros tee it up, but it’s no easy business getting it ready. Every day, Lee’s crew of 32 hand rakes every bunker inside the ropes for more than two hours beginning at 5 a.m.

“It’s a work in progress, you’re never finished taking care of a golf course,” Lee said. “It’s a matter of setting priorities. For resort play, we hand rake all the ones in play: those are the ones along the fairway, the greenside ones every day. Today, you’ll see a little bit wider version of that, everything inside the ropes.”

There’s so much sand, players start to admire the traps. One bunker getting the most attention is at the sixth, where a giant 6-foot trap cuts through the green, dividing it.

Phil Mickelson said he likes the hole layout that will punish a wayward wedge shot.

“It’s a really cool bunker and a really cool hole,” Mickelson said. “It is a huge penalty if you mishit your wedge and go in that bunker.”

Lee, who has been part of the golf course since its inception, said Dye’s vision has made the course firm, but fair and contends pros who finds themselves in the deep bunker should be able to play out.

“It is very difficult for any human being to visually sort out the sand here that comes into play. I think as the players go through the week, they will get accustomed to looking at all that sand and really get to know the Straits better and be able to tune some of that out,” Lee said.

For the moment, players are still trying to wrap their minds around just how many traps dot the course.

“There are some very small bunkers out there. To get a 1,000 of them out there, you have to have some pretty small ones,” Justin Rose said. “You just have to accept sometimes that when we’re in a bunker, we expect to get it up and down. That might not be the case this week.”

And being off line could mean a long day.

“If you get out of position on this golf course,” Graeme McDowell said. “You’re in a world of pain, no doubt about it.”

And trying to count all the sand traps proves pointless – even on a fact sheet handed out by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. It lists the details of the types of grass, water sources, green sizes and soil mix.

As for bunkers? “Numerous.”

A giant understatement.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

 

 

Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.