Players greeted with big changes at TPC Scottsdale

By Associated PressJanuary 29, 2015, 2:34 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Tom Weiskopf borrowed a design element from Oakmont when he replaced the left fairway bunker on TPC Scottsdale's par-4 18th hole.

Out of respect for the historic Pennsylvania club's Church Pews bunker, the course architect refers to the four long, thin strips of raised, turfed ground as islands.

''That's reserved for Oakmont. There is only one Church Pews,'' Weiskopf said. ''Those are islands in there. Four islands. Big islands. Some people call them church pews. They can call them whatever they want. You don't want to be in there.''

At the Phoenix Open this week, players will face a 300-yard carry over the left-side water and need to fly it 340 yards to clear the bunker. The previous bunker ended at 310 yards.

The punishing islands are the key feature.

''Oh, my gosh, that went through a process of about two months, because the islands were actually a little higher. They were very nice,'' Weiskopf said. ''You know, I had enough controversy as a player. I didn't want controversy. So, we toned them down. I wish we wouldn't have, to tell you the truth.''


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The 72-year-old Weiskopf, a 16-time winner on the PGA Tour who has designed close to 70 courses, directed the $9.2 million renovation that was completed in November. He relished the chance to update the city-owned Stadium Course he teamed with Jay Morrish to design nearly 30 years ago.

''I felt lucky to be approached and asked to be involved,'' Weiskopf said.

Weiskopf's team moved four greens, resurfaced all of the putting surfaces, reshaped and moved bunkers and tee boxes and replaced the irrigation and drainage systems. The clubhouse also was renovated, bringing the cost to $15 million.

Weiskopf used ShotLink data from the last five years to put the fairway bunkers back in play for even the longest hitters. He cut the number of bunkers from 73 to 66 and filled them with white sand that area tour players tested for two years on the back range.

''I thought the most important thing that we could do for this tournament was to challenge the tee shot more,'' Weiskopf said.

To reduce frost, the second and third greens were shifted to create better angles to the morning sun. The fourth hole was completely rebuilt, with the green moved away from the hotel, and the 14th green was shifted to a hilltop.

''I always thought the 14th green should be up on the hill in a location where you look behind that green and you can see the famous Superstition range behind it,'' Weiskopf said. ''More importantly, we needed to get away from a very tight situation with the road.''

Mark Calcavecchia set the tournament record of 28-under 256 in 2001 and Phil Mickelson tied it two years ago. The course record is 60, set by Grant Waite in 1996 and matched by Calcavecchia in 2001 and Mickelson in 2005 and 2013.

''I would hope we never see the 20s,'' Weiskopf said.

Mickelson said he has always liked Weiskopf's work.

''He has great strategy from a player's standpoint,'' Mickelson said.

The greens are better than he expected.

''The first year you always have to cut some slack because the greens are firm and unreceptive because the roots haven't had a chance to grow in,'' Mickelson said. ''Surprisingly, the greens are putting very true and in wonderful shape.''

Keegan Bradley also praised the work.

''They did an unbelievable job,'' Bradley said. ''A lot harder, but still very fair. I think this is a great test.''

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.