Par 3s long and daunting at Oakland Hills

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Paul Azinger stepped to the tee at Oakland Hills par-3 ninth and his caddie told him how far it was to the front of the green.
 
As he tapped the 3-wood in the bag, he said: 247.
 
Azinger laughed, grabbed the recommended club and hit a spectacular tee shot onto the green that wound up very close to the pin.
 
Theyre going to erect a statue of me here, Azinger joked to the gallery Wednesday during a practice round for the PGA Championship that starts Thursday.
 
The Monster, though, got the last laugh because Azinger missed the putt.
 
Oakland Hills new-look par 3s'the 257-yard ninth and 238-yard 17th'are so long they have fairways.
 
Theyre supposed to be short holes, right? Woody Austin asked. Isnt that what a par 3 is? Short?
 
How the best players in the world cope with a 3-wood, hybrid or fairway metal in their hands'maybe even a driver if the wind is in their face at No. 9 ' might decide who wins the years final major.
 
Its going to be a huge factor, Kenny Perry predicted.
 
As Azinger showed, just getting to the putting surface is only part of the challenge at the storied course that is hosting its third PGA Championship and has been the site of six U.S. Opens, including 1951 when Ben Hogan famously said he was glad to bring The Monster to its knees.
 
Jack Nicklaus, who won the 1991 U.S. Senior Open at Oakland Hills, has said the shaped greens were more difficult than any others because of their speed and contour.
 
On Wednesday, Tommy Armour III and Pat Perez practiced flopping shots from one high tier of the 17th green across it to the lower level.
 
Yeah, were going to have to do that because you cant putt it across these greens, Perez said after tapping a putt to the left and watching it break hard downhill, catching the edge of the cup before rolling past. But you cant really chip it, either.
 
Perez did chip in once from the rough in his practice round, adding that might be his best chance at a birdie at the hole that will be even more difficult if the wind is blowing in players faces on the tee as it was on Monday.
 
To avoid two- or three-putting, some players were practicing laying up their tee shots at No. 9 because they might have a better chance to get closer to the pin with a second shot and escape with a par.
 
These greens are unbelievable, Perez said. And in only one day, its crazy how much faster and harder they are.
 
The PGA of America might initially give the field a break in the first two rounds by saving the back tees for the weekend at Nos. 9 and 17, both of which are 38 yards longer than they were during the 2004 Ryder Cup thanks to Rees Jones redesign.
 
Nine and 17 are very, very difficult, Jim Furyk said. They were already tough holes when we had, say, a 4-iron in our hand. But now with 3-woods, theyre very difficult.
 
The other par 3s will also be tests.
 
At No. 3, the 198-yard hole has an undulating green surrounded by five large bunkers. The 191-yard 13th is encased by deep bunkers around a classic Donald Ross green, featuring a hollow in the front that is about 4 feet below the upper plateau.
 
Three is the easiest of the group, Justin Leonard said. But this is certainly the hardest group of par 3s Ive ever played.
 
Jones might have overdone it, Leonard acknowledged, but hes trying not to worry about that.
 
We all have to play them, he said.
 
Sergio Garcia said he will probably need a 5- or 6-iron to reach No. 3, a 6-iron for 13 and a 5-wood for both 9 and 17.
 
You know if youre hitting those clubs, youre going to miss some of those greens, Garcia said. Even hitting a good shot, youre going to miss some of those greens.
 
Then it can get quite tricky around the greens. Chipping can be quite tricky around it, and even putting can be quite tricky around it.
 
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    Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

    John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

    The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

    That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

    He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

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    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.