Pebbles tricky 14th hole causing fits at US Open

By Associated PressJune 19, 2010, 6:00 am

PEBBLE2010 U.S. Open BEACH, Calif. – Standing in a sand trap, Scott Verplank poked his head up over the high, grassy ridge that blocked his view of the 14th green as he tried to get a feel for the pin placement on what has turned into one of the trickiest holes at the U.S. Open.

It’s a frustrating spot on Pebble Beach’s back nine. The hole of doom, to do it proper justice.

“If you’re in that bunker, you’re not seeing much, you’re just seeing the rescue,” Verplank said. “It’s tough.”

Verplank wound up with a double-bogey on the par-5, 523-yard hole Thursday. It caused Yuta Ikeda absolute fits, too. And many others. Golfers often have to contend with hitting into the wind on No. 14.

It didn’t get any easier Friday.

This is one hole that everybody in the 156-man field would probably prefer to scratch from the course and tournament altogether if they could.

No. 14 has been brutal for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am held here each February – and for the U.S. Open, a major, it’s tougher still.

The rolling green sits atop a plateau and gives golfers very few spots to safely place the ball. There’s often the risk of watching a shot trickle off the green and back down the slope any which way, sometimes right back to a player’s feet. That was the case for Paul Casey on Friday morning, when he triple-bogeyed 14.

Later in the day, Zach Johnson made a 9 to move him from 4 over to 8 over. He punched from the back of the green, caught a ridge and his ball went down the slope and settled in front of the sand trap. His next attempt traveled over the slope on the left side, and his next back down the slope again.

Kenny Kim, Ian Poulter and Y.E. Yang were also all over the place. They each scored 8. Poulter watched his chip go up the slope and right back down.

“We’ve talked about that all week, it’s probably the hardest third shot in all of golf,” Tiger Woods said. “The way the green is right now, during AT&T it’s no big deal, it’s just going to plug up there, but not right now. It’s very tricky.”

Nick Faldo knows this spot all too well. It was in the second round here in 1992, back two Opens ago played on the picturesque Monterey Peninsula, that Faldo had to go into the oak tree to the left of the green looking for his ball. He shook the branches and never did retrieve it, and instead was forced to play his provisional.

Dustin Johnson, winner of the past two AT&T’s here, four-putted on 14 during Thursday’s round for a 7. He was near the top of the leaderboard after shooting a 1-under 70 on Friday, and would surely have been in better shape with a lower score on the 14th. Johnson made par on 14 Friday.

“It becomes a tough hole if you get too aggressive,” Tim Clark said. “It’s one of those if you do take on the flag and make a mistake you can bring in a big number.”

He doesn’t have to remind Ikeda.

An Open first-timer from Japan, he chipped up his third shot Thursday only to see the ball land short and roll all the way back down the slope some 20 feet to his right, setting up a tougher one still. Then, on his next try, he chipped too hard and the ball traveled down the hill on the far side of the green back toward the fairway. He was baffled, in disbelief at his suddenly lousy fortunes.

Ikeda tapped his right foot and held his hands together behind his back as he waited for the others to finish up following his 8 for triple-bogey.

“I’m sure there will be plenty more,” Adam Scott said. “If you play good shots and they don’t pan out, you pay a big penalty there. So, frustration.”

Casey, who was in a three-way share of the lead after the opening round, hit his third shot to the middle of the green, it spun back more than 100 feet and traveled down the front slope. Then his next chip did the same thing and Casey had to hop out of the way as the ball settled right back in front of him. He hit his fifth shot over the green, then needed three to finish.

Scott’s first-day playing partner and fellow Aussie Geoff Ogilvy chopped his iron several times through the grass when his third ball at 14 didn’t cooperate, settling to the left in the second cut of rough below the green.

Scott didn’t like his shot, either, and tossed his club at his golf bag standing nearby. Both stood in silence, arms crossed as they waited.

“You have no option, really. You have to try to hit it up on the top shelf there because if you’re on the right side it comes down the front,” Scott said. “You have to hit a good shot – pinpoint accuracy. It’s probably going to play one of the toughest this week.”

Matt Bettencourt didn’t even bother getting angry when his flop shot from the rough came up short. He signaled to the ball with his right hand as if to guide it as it rolled right back to him.

The USGA has no plans to make the 14th much different in the later rounds, either.

Mike Davis, the USGA’s senior director of rules and competition who set up the course, said all four days will feature pin placements in the upper left quadrant of the green.

“That right section just has too much slope to use it,” he said. “You’re going to see the same thing on the eighth green, where we really can only put it on that ridge in the middle, same thing on the 11th green on the ridge, same thing on 13th down left. It’s the nature of Pebble Beach’s greens.”

Woods played his first two shots Thursday at 14 perfectly, then his third wedge shot went long and over the green. Some golfers opted to putt off the rough and made par. In hindsight, Ikeda probably wishes he’d done just that.

K.J. Choi concentrates on making a right-side lie – though he still scored a double-bogey there Friday.

“It’s very tough on the left side, so it’s a very scary shot to the left,” Choi said.

Verplank insists it takes near-perfect shotmaking on this pesky hole.

“You just have to hit good shots,” he said. “I thought I hit a good third shot. To be honest with you, actually I hit it perfect, and it went about 10 yards shorter in the air than I thought it was going to and plugged in the lip. Then I was done. I couldn’t even get it out. Unfortunately, that’s how that hole is sometimes.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.