Players Bemoan Difficult Course Set-Ups

By Associated PressJune 3, 2008, 4:00 pm
Stanford St. Jude ChampionshipDUBLIN, Ohio -- Bay Hill was brutal one year. Shots into the firm greens looked as if they were bouncing off a trampoline, yet the grass was so lush in front of the green it was hard to get the ball close. No one shot better than 69.
 
One major champion unloaded in the parking lot that evening, calling the course a joke and wondering aloud if he would return. Just then, tournament host Arnold Palmer pulled up beside him in a golf cart and asked him what he thought.
 
He looked at the King, shrugged and slowly nodded his head.
 
Not bad, he said.
 
Jack Nicklaus couldnt stop laughing when he heard this story Sunday morning at the Memorial.
 
There was no shortage of media complaints about Muirfield Village, where Kenny Perry won with the highest score in 23 years. Nicklaus might be colorblind, but he can read black-and-white print in a newspaper.
 
The source of players aggravation was rough that might be as thick and long as they see all year. Combine that with the fastest, purest greens on tour and the results were predictable. There were more rounds in the 80s than the 60s. Players near the top of the leaderboard said it was tough but fair. Players near the bottom said it was ridiculous.
 
Nicklaus could relate to Palmer.
 
Not one player said a word to me, he said.
 
Course setups get about as much attention as slow play these days, and solutions are equally difficult to find. Nicklaus made it clear that he wasnt in charge of the way Muirfield Village played'that ultimately falls to the PGA TOUR staff'but it was no different from previous years, except for a wet spring that made the grass grow.
 
The rough, indeed, was troublesome. Mike Weir had a wedge to the fifth green in the final round and chipped out from the deep rough (he still made par). Phil Mickelson rifled a 3-wood some 290 yards to the par-5 11th green in the second round, and the ball rolled off the back into the rough. It was so deep he wound up scrambling for par.
 
I think one of the greatest shots in golf is the recovery, Nicklaus said. I hate it when youre hacking out, and theyre doing that at my tournament. I hate that. But I have no control over that.
 
The lawn mowers werent broken, but the grass was so thick it might not have mattered.
 
Some players felt as though they were at a U.S. Open, and maybe thats why Nicklaus was so amused to hear so much whining. He used to go to the U.S. Open, listen to players complain about the course, and figure those guys had no chance.
 
You have to learn to adjust, Nicklaus said. If I couldnt adjust my game to the conditions, I didnt deserve to do well.
 
The problem is whether the PGA TOUR is getting enough variety.
 
For all the complaining at Memorial, there were birdies to be made. Mathew Goggin made 15 over the first two days, along with his share of bogeys. Even so, Davis Love III has noticed the winning score getting worse in recent years.
 
Scores should be going down, not up, Love said. Thats a pretty good indication that its getting harder. Nobody ever shoots 20 under anymore. And players are a heck of a lot better. The fields are deeper.
 
Love said the course setup was a major topic at the players meeting last month in North Carolina. Why are courses so hard? What kind of show can they put on for the fans and a television audience when theyre scrambling for par?
 
And whos idea was this, anyway?
 
Its a four-letter word, Steve Flesch said at the Memorial. And he runs this place.
 
The mandate actually came from the PGA TOUR policy board nearly 20 years ago, with only a few instructions. Firm, closely mown grass on the tees, fairways and greens. Thick, evenly dispersed rough (when growing conditions allow).
 
The summation of that 1990 document was to have all courses play as difficult as possible while remaining fair. Exactly what that means, of course, is subject to interpretation.
 
Are course setups getting worse?
 
In 22 stroke-play events this year, 10 winning scores were higher, 10 were lower and two were the same.
 
I dont want to sound like the guy whos 44 and not playing good, said Love, who turned 44 in April and is not playing particularly well. But its really hard. It doesnt matter if its hard or easy'its the same for everybody. But is that what we want?
 
This follows a year in which average birdies were way down from previous years, along with TV ratings, and players began asking if fans might lose interest watching the best in the world hack it around every week.
 
I think Phil had the right idea when he said technology has gone two ways, Joe Ogilvie said. We have better balls, better drivers, better equipment. Johnny Miller talks about equipment almost as much as he talks about himself. But 15 years ago, they couldnt grow rough 10 inches. John Deere makes a hell of a tractor that cuts the greens lower and lower and lower.
 
It gets to the point when golf'even for us'gets pretty boring.
 
Next week is the U.S. Open, where the winning score has been 5 over par the last two years.
 
Ogilvie believes PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem, the USGA and other golf organizations want courses to be tougher than ever so fans wont think these guys are good simply because of the better equipment.
 
But at least, Ogilvie said, theyre not saying these guys are good because of HGH.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - St. Jude Championship
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

    Getty Images

    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

    Getty Images

    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

    Getty Images

    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.