PGA may be a Monster this year

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Rich Beem stood over his tee shot on the 18th hole during his final practice session for the PGA Championship, trained his eye down the narrow fairway squeezed between bunkers, waggled his driver and then backed off.
This is the hardest hole Ive ever played, he said Wednesday.
Then he smoked his tee shot with the slightest draw and saw it hop to the left on a canted fairway and disappear into the bunker.
And it just got harder, he said before walking off.
Anthony Kim
Anthony Kim practices on the eve of the 90th PGA Championship. (Getty Images)
That was just the 498-yard closing hole at Oakland Hills.
Beem and the rest of the field at the final major of the year havent found other parts of the course to be much easier.
Indeed, The Monster is more than a nickname at this PGA Championship, which starts Thursday.
This is as tough of a setup as Ive ever seen, Steve Stricker said.
The PGA Championship has been getting positive reviews over the last several years as the most fair of all the majors, particularly among the three in the United States. Phil Mickelson last week described the PGA as the major without an ego.
Now, the toughest test in golf could be the last one.
The usual setup for the PGA is more like a tough U.S. tour event, British Open champion Padraig Harrington said. Its nearly more U.S. Open-type that the U.S. Open is at the moment, if that makes any sense. Its actually like they switched the two of them around this year.
What makes it so difficult?
It starts with sheer length. The course has been stretched 318 yards since the 2004 Ryder Cup, measuring 7,395 yards, the longest in major championship history for a par 70. Two of the par 3s are over 235 yards, so long they have fairways.
This little pitch-and-putt? Chad Campbell said, rolling his eyes. Its brutal. The added length is very difficult.
But length is nothing new at majors, for just about every course is longer than it was. The trouble at Oakland Hills is the shape of the greens, which only look large. The Donald Ross design ' since worked on by Robert Trent Jones for the 1951 U.S. Open and most recently by Rees Jones ' have more contours than just about any course, including Augusta National. George McNeill hit putts on the 18th green that tracked in the shape of a parabola.
And on the way to the green is uniform rough that doesnt look that terrifying until a ball lands it in and sinks to the bottom. The great mystery this week are the rakes ' players have spotted course workers raking the grass toward the tee, making it stand up like a fresh crew cut on a Marine recruit.
It doesnt seem long because youve just come from Birkdale, Geoff Ogilvy said, referring to the site of the British Open. But its 4 inches, and thick enough. If youre more than 100 yards, youre not going to get to the green from too many lies.
Rocco Mediate was playing the 18th early Wednesday ' his only nine holes of practice ' when one of his tee shots strayed to the right. His caddie went looking for it, and when he finally found it, picked it up and said, No good over here. Make a note of that.
Predicting a score is pointless because no one knows how the PGA of America will set it up when scores start counting Thursday. But wherever they put the tees and pins, Oakland Hills has gotten the players attention.
The whole golf course really feels and plays like a major should, Ernie Els said before going out for one last look. So I think were in for a tough week. But a very fair week.
Els is among those trying to make sure his season does not end without a major. He finally won again in the United States at the Honda Classic, but hasnt done much since and is hopeful his recent work with Butch Harmon starts to take hold.
Harmon is a popular man these days. He also is working with Mickelson, the No. 2 player in the world and the betting favorite. And he spent Wednesday morning with Adam Scott, who has slipped to No. 8 in the world and is starting to feel the heat for never having seriously challenged in a major.
I can see some good scores, Scott said. But I can see it going the other way, too.
The last time over par won a PGA Championship was in 1976 (Dave Stockton at Congressional), giving it the longest streak of winner at par or better of any major. Over par has won at all the other majors within the last two years.
Might the PGA Championship join them?
This has the potential to play as the hardest major, Mike Weir said. And thats never the case. Usually of the four majors, if you played your best, you could score here. Now you could play great and 70 might be awesome.
Scott is among four players in the top 10 in the world without a major ' the others are Sergio Garcia (No. 6), Stewart Cink (No. 9) and Stricker (No. 10). The PGA Championship is known as Glorys Last Shot, and what gives this major even more of a sense of urgency is that players have to wait seven months until the next one.
Tiger Woods likely will be in the field for the Masters, so this also might be the last time not having to worry about him. Woods is the two-time defending champion of the PGA Championship, winning last year by three shots over Woody Austin at Southern Hills.
Its an opportunity for a lot of guys, Els said. You look at guys who have not won majors, who at my age (38) or even past my age who are playing well this year. They can break through. Theres a lot of guys playing very good golf.
From what theyve seen this week, they better be playing great.
Related Links:
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  • Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

    Masters victory

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    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

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    Man of the people

    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

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    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

    PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

    Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

    The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    The statement reads:

    The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

    The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

    The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

    The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.