Shinnecock Poses Stern Test

By Associated PressJune 15, 2004, 4:00 pm
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. --Shinnecock Hills Golf Club only gets better with age.
 
And tougher.
 
After going 90 years without a major championship, it allowed only one man to break par -- Raymond Floyd -- in the 1986 U.S. Open. When it returned in 1995, Corey Pavin became the first player in 16 years to win the U.S. Open at even par. If the wind blows all four days this time around, some believe no one will break par.
 
And yet players known to complain about something during a U.S. Open have nothing but praise for the 113-year-old course on the eastern end of Long Island.
 
Scott Verplank spoke for many when he said Shinnecock was simply the best he has ever played.
 
Asked why, Verplank offered an incredulous stare.
 
``Have you ever been there?'' he replied.
 
Not much has changed since Floyd's victory in 1986, and changes since Pavin won in 1995 have been mainly cosmetic.
 
``We've done very little to Shinnecock since the last time it was there,'' said Tom Meeks, the USGA's senior director of rules and competition who has been setting up U.S. Open courses since 1996. ``Other than three new tees and eliminating the back tee on 17, there wasn't much done at all.''
 
When Mark Michaud took over as course superintendent in 2000, he had his crew take down a few trees, clear out a lot of underbrush and level hillsides to open up spectacular vistas of an already breathtaking piece of property. From some holes, the entire golf course is visible.
 
And what a sight.
 
While Pebble Beach has the Pacific and Pinehurst No. 2 is famous for the turtleback greens conceived by Donald Ross, the image of Shinnecock Hills is a contrast of colors -- green fairways, framed by brown waves of fescue and bluestem grasses.
 
``I love the definition of the golf course, the way the bunkers are, the way the fescue and the grass grows, the difficulty of the greens, the wind,'' he said. ``I think it's going to test the players' overall game. We've had some tests at the U.S. Open that are very one-dimensional -- can you hit the fairway, can you hit the green. I think at this year's Open at Shinnecock Hills, short game will be a big factor.''
 
The biggest surprise is that more U.S. Opens have not been played at Shinnecock Hills.
 
The second U.S. Open was played at Shinnecock in 1896. James Foulis won the 36-hole tournament with a 152 on a course that stretched all of 4,423 yards.
 
Now, the par-70 course with plenty of doglegs, 164 sand bunkers and two water hazards will play at 6,996 yards, just 84 longer than it was in 1986. There will be seven par 4s over 435 yards, and the fairways will be about 26 yards wide, with typical U.S. Open rough -- 4 inches -- waiting to swallow up errant shots.
 
The fescue can be punishing or forgiving.
 
``The clearing of brush allowed the native grasses to grow to maturity,'' USGA agronomist Tim Moraghan said. ``Where Bethpage had thick strands of rye, you get off line (in the fescue) and the ball can be findable, retrievable, and sometimes you get lucky and there's not a lot of grass to grab the hosel of the club.
 
``Then again, there's a chance you could wind up in the thick stuff and have no shot.''
 
Jack Nicklaus hit his ball in the yellowish fescue on the 10th hole and never found it. Tiger Woods hit into the rough as a 19-year-old amateur in 1995 and tore wrist ligaments trying to hack out. He had to withdraw.
 
``We're not trying to come up with rough to injure anybody,'' Meeks said. ``The rough will be tough but we don't want to make it all pitch out or sand wedge. We hope they'll be challenged to make a shot out of there.''
 
Don McDougall, the head pro at Shinnecock for 43 years and just one of three men to ever hold that position, said the winning score will be determined by the weather.
 
``If we have rain, wind and cold weather that makes everything a little tougher at Shinnecock,'' he said. ``I would guess a score of 2-under would win if the weather stays the way it normally is. A calm day is a plus for the players. Hopefully they'll have good weather but not too good. We want to make a tournament out of it.''
 
Vijay Singh is among those with plenty of local knowledge.
 
``I think it's one of the best golf courses in the world I've played,'' he said. ``I've played many a times after the tournament. I was a member there, and I've gone and played quite a lot of times. It just excites you to go and play Shinnecock. Every hole is different, it's tough. You know it's going to be a hard week.
 
``If the wind blows, it's going to be almost impossible. I know even par out there could be winning the tournament.''
 
The Open was on Long Island just two years ago at Bethpage Black, a public course where golfers often slept overnight in their cars to try to get a tee time.
 
Things will be different at Shinnecock.
 
``For being an hour and a half away from Bethpage, it's a whole different world,'' said John Cook, who played in the '86 and '95 U.S. Open. ``You throw away the yardage book. It doesn't matter how far you hit it. If you don't hit in the fairway, you'll look stupid. You better be prepared to see some stuff you've never seen before.''
 
In Shinnecock's case, seeing is believing.
 
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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.