Players Concerned Over Honda Course

By Associated PressMarch 10, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Honda ClassicPALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- The Honda Classic moves around almost as much as major championships, with the Sunrise Course at Mirasol the fifth location in the last 10 years.
 
And only at majors do players fret so much about a golf course before the tournament even starts.
 
'I think at the end of the week, you're going to see a lot more guys spent than guys having fun,' Fred Couples said Wednesday.
 
During a practice round, defending champion Justin Leonard hit his tee shot about 10 feet to the right of the flag. It landed safely, trickled to the right, then disappeared. A few seconds later, and about 15 yards away, the ball emerged from behind a mound and continued rolling.
 
Jeff Sluman hit a 4-iron from 183 yards into the wind to a front pin on the par-3 eighth. It landed 20 feet to the right, even with the pin, but not for long. It went down a steep slope into the rough. He hit what he thought was a good chip, only to see the ball roll slowly past the hole and keep going, some 30 feet off the green.
 
'It's hard,' Couples said. 'I wouldn't know where to start. It's in fantastic shape. It's just very, very hard. It doesn't matter what the wind does. It's hard to put any spin on a ball when you've got to hit it in one certain area, and if you don't, it just rolls ... am I saying anything different than anyone else?'
 
Most guys aren't saying anything at all, perhaps not wanting to find a letter from the PGA Tour in their locker informing them of a fine for disparaging comments.
 
'Are we off the record?' was a popular refrain leading up to Thursday's opening round at Mirasol.
 
Leonard was among the more diplomatic about the Tom Fazio design when he said that 'a couple of the greens are a little severe, but everybody is going to have to get through those holes.'
 
What did he mean by severe?
 
'Well, I think (No.) 3 is pretty severe for a 245-yard par 3,' he said. 'The right side of the green just goes up and down. It looks like something I skied down a couple of months ago.'
 
Still, everyone will be playing the same 7,468-yard course. And everyone will be chasing the $900,000 prize.
 
'It will be interesting to see the comments over the course of the week,' Davis Love III said. 'I think the lower your score, the better your comments will be, as usual.'
 
The Honda Classic, which gets under way on Thursday, has had trouble finding a permanent home in recent years.
 
It was played on the TPC at Eagle Trace near Fort Lauderdale in 1996 for the ninth and final time. That location was notable for the year Kenny Knox shot 80 in the third round and still won the tournament.
 
With so many water hazards, and so much wind in south Florida this time of the year, Greg Norman once referred to Eagle Trace as 'carnival golf.'
 
It switched to the TPC at Heron Bay for the next six years, and the course was so bland the players couldn't remember the holes.
 
The tournament moved to Mirasol last year and was played on the adjacent Sunset course, which was deemed too easy for a PGA Tour event.
 
Leonard won at 24 under par, and the next dozen guys behind him were at 20 under or better.
 
The next stop is the Sunrise course, for at least the next three years (with an option through 2010).
 
The intrigue about this Honda Classic is that no one has every played the Sunrise course in tournament conditions, and yet everyone seems to know what to expect.
 
'I watched last year and they were in the 20-unders,' Couples said. 'This would be one way of stopping that, to build a course like this. I think 75, if they put the pins in spots, is going to be a mediocre score.'
 
Because of the shaved slopes around the greens that spill into deep collection areas, there have been some comparisons to Pinehurst No. 2.
 
The grass is so tightly mown beyond the green that it's difficult to hit a flop shot with a sand wedge up the mounds. Instead, several players were using fairway metals to putt, or chipping with a 6- or 7-iron.
 
'It looks like someone tried to make it look like Pinehurst, and overdid it,' Brad Faxon said.
 
Pinehurst, where the late Payne Stewart won the '99 U.S. Open, was a Donald Ross creation with his vintage turtleback greens. The greens at Mirasol look like the back of a humpback whale.
 
The ninth green is the most peculiar, stretching some 50 yards diagonally, with large slopes front and back. The green has so many contours it looks like the fairways at Royal St. Georges.
 
'If we went and played Pinehurst next week, it would be a piece of cake,' Couples said.
 
The Honda Classic might resemble a major in one other aspect -- it's going to require a lot of patience when bad things happen to good shots.
 
'I kind of like this,' Faxon said. 'Because it's going to get a lot of guys (upset). And it's a $5 million purse.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - The Honda Classic
  • Full Coverage - The Honda Classic
     
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    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.

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    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

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    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.”

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    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.