Oakland Hills From Monster to Mecca

By Associated PressSeptember 16, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Oakland Hills' place in golf history was secure before the Ryder Cup arrived.
It has hosted six U.S. Opens, none more famous than the one in 1951, a layout Ben Hogan called a 'monster.' It also has been home to two PGA Championships, and will get another in four years.

But when the 35th Ryder Cup begins Friday on a course that once was a dairy farm, Oakland Hills will join some exclusive company as one of four courses to have held a Ryder Cup, U.S. Open and PGA Championship. Oak Hill, Pinehurst and Scioto are the others.
'Championship golf has been a part of Oakland Hills since its inception in 1918, and our membership has always viewed itself as stewards of a national golf treasure,' Oakland Hills chief operating officer Rick Bayliss said. 'Oakland Hills has played a significant role in golf's history, and it's part of our mission to make sure that's true in the years to come.'
The Donald Ross design, which opened in 1918, is an American classic with tree-lined, undulating fairways, subtle elevations and some of the most severely contoured greens in the land -- so much slope, in fact, that the U.S. Open has to keep the greens at a moderate speed to make it fair.
'It's hard to rank the historic courses, but there's no question that Oakland Hills is on the short list,' Jim Furyk said.
Furyk and the rest of the Americans will be playing at home, where it has lost the Ryder Cup just twice since the matches began in 1927 -- in 1987 at Muirfield and in 1995 at Oak Hill.
But while Hogan said he was glad to have 'brought this course, this monster, to its knees' a half-century ago, the 7,077-yard course at a par 70 is no longer as daunting because of the sport's new technology.
The key has always been -- and will always be -- keeping the ball below the hole on the greens.
'They are severe, but they are in great shape,' Stewart Cink said. 'So what you see for break, you're going to get.'
Jack Nicklaus, who won the 1991 U.S. Senior Open at Oakland Hills, once said the greens were more difficult than any other because of their speed and contour.
Unlike stroke play, the golf course has little to do with the Ryder Cup matches. The United States could play Europe at any municipal golf course and it would still come down to beating the other guys on that hole.
Of course, that doesn't make Oakland Hills -- ranked No. 8 among America's 100 greatest golf courses by Golf Digest -- and its 900 members feel any less special about hosting one of world's great sports events.
'Even though we've hosted many major events, this is a true treat,' Bayliss said.
John O'Hara, an 86-year-old member, said Oakland Hills is essentially the same as it was when he started playing it in 1926.
'When Donald Ross first came here to design the course he said, 'The Lord intended this to be a golf course,'' O'Hara said. 'He put bunkers behind the greens because in those days, we had to water the greens by hand with hoses, so they were as hard as concrete. Our irrigation system took care of that, but that's about the only major change.'
To get ready for the Ryder Cup and its 40,000 daily visitors, however, Oakland Hills and the PGA of America split $70 million in costs. The two entities also will share in the profits, not including the millions NBC pays the PGA of America to televise the event.
More than 800 semi-trucks delivered materials to build 325,000 square feet of tents, including a 3,500 square foot merchandise tent, and to bring nearly 5,000 pieces of furniture and 15,000 bleacher seats.
On Monday morning, the tear-down process will start and is expected to last four days.
'It's the quintessential moveable feast,' Bayliss said.
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    After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

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

    Each week, GolfChannel.com 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.

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    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.”

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    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.

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    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.”