Tiger Adopts Bunker Mentality

By Associated PressJuly 13, 2005, 4:00 pm
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- The names Tiger Woods must master at this British Open are not the usual suspects he faces at other major championships, like Vijay Singh or Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els.
 
Tiger Woods and caddie
Tiger Woods and caddie plot their Old Course strategy during Wednesday's practice round.
It's Sutherland -- not Kevin or David, but the tiny pot bunker that looms large on the fourth fairway at St. Andrews.
 
There is Cartgate and Coffins, Cat's Trap and Lion's Mouth, Kruger and Mrs. Kruger.
 
And, of course, there's Hell.
 
The strongest line of defense at any British Open is the wind that whips across links courses, although make no mistake about the Old Course. It's all about avoiding the brutal bunkers, 112 of them in all, some of which can't be seen until a player gets to the green and looks behind him.
 
Woods won five years ago at St. Andrews by failing to hit into a single bunker over four days, which helps explain why he set a major championship record at 19-under 269 and finished eight shots ahead of anyone else.
 
'That's how golf is meant to be played,' Woods said. 'You have to think about your placement. You have to picture a trajectory and shape and try to hit that shape and that trajectory on your spot, and it will be fine. If you don't, there's a chance that you can get some pretty bad spots out here.'
 
Woods will try to avoid them again when the 134th British Open begins Thursday at St. Andrews.
 
This figures to be a momentous occasion, as it usually is when the oldest major returns to the home of golf. For starters, Jack Nicklaus is playing his 164th and final major championship.
 
Nicklaus once said there were three types of British Opens -- those in England, those in Scotland and those at St. Andrews.
 
As much as he has played the Old Course -- this is his eighth Open at St. Andrews -- he sounds as though he has developed a close and personal relationship with its bunkers.
 
'I don't know all the bunkers, obviously, but I know a fair number of them,' Nicklaus said. 'I guess not many courses have names, but I go through the golf course and I name 15 or 20 bunkers, however they pop out of my head. I would never think of that in any other place.'
 
The bunkers can be so treacherous that Nicklaus and Gary Player, who had nearly a century of major championship golf between them, asked a rules official in 2000 whether they were allowed to take an unplayable lie out of a bunker, and whether hitting the sodden wall in the backswing was a penalty.
 
Woods said his legacy at St. Andrews -- no bunkers -- required no small amount of luck. There was that tee shot on the 10th hole in the final round that was headed for three pot bunkers when it skipped over them.
 
'I should have been in probably three or five bunkers, easily,' he said. 'Just off the tee shots alone, it happened to hop over a bunker and catch a side and kick left or right of it. That happens. Fortunately for me, it was happening that week. I got
lucky a few times.'
 
Nick Faldo almost set the standard when he won in 1990 at 18-under 270. Woods broke his record in relation to par by one shot, and the difference might have been the one bunker Faldo found that year.
 
'The strategy of this golf course is respect for the bunkers,' Faldo said. 'When I won it, I hit it in one. And that's the whole key to this place. Anything can happen. You get under the lip, and you have to come out backward or whatever, and you can't even get to it.'
 
Nicklaus knows that all too well.
 
It was in 1995 when he hit his second shot on the par-5 14th into Hell Bunker, a massive sand box with 6-foot walls that feel like a crudely made prison, which might be how it got its name. Nicklaus took four shots to get out on his way to a 10.
 
The most infamous incident took place at the most famous bunker on the Old Course -- the Road Bunker that fronts the 17th green. Tommy Nakajima was in contention in the '78 British Open and seemingly safe on the green when his first putt was struck too hard and went into the bunker. It took him four shots to get out, and he fell out of the hunt.
 
Asked if he lost concentration, Nakajima replied, 'No, I lost count.'
 
David Duval suffered a similar fate in 2000, although his four swings from the Road Bunker for a quadruple bogey in the final round only cost him second place.
 
That will be the trick at St. Andrews this week, as it always is. It might be slightly easier to avoid the bunkers if the warm sunshine and slightest breeze remain through the end of the tournament.
 
That's how it was when Woods and Faldo won so easily.
 
Woods hasn't always had it this good. He played St. Andrews as an amateur in 1995 and tied for 68th in windy conditions. He also played the Dunhill Cup in 1998, another wind-blown occasion, when he lost to Santiago Luna of Spain in the semifinals.
 
'This golf course, it's kind of funny,' Woods said. 'You play along here and you think, 'What is a bunker here for?' And all of a sudden the wind switches and you go, 'Oh, there it is.' That's the beauty of playing here. You always discover some new bunkers, just because the wind conditions change.
 
'I've played here in '95 and '98 and then 2000, and I've had all types of wind,' he said. 'I've got to experience some bunkers that I didn't think would ever come into play.'

Justin Leonard played five holes in his practice round before he finally went into a bunker. The shot was familiar -- a blast out of the sand, with the ball bounding off the wall with topspin to roll down the fairway.
 
As he climbed out of the pit, Leonard was asked if he knew the name of the bunker.
 
'No,' he replied. 'I've lost track.'
 
Nicklaus played two practice rounds earlier this week and dropped a few balls in the bunkers, a reminder he didn't need that they are not where he wants to be.
 
'You don't play any golf course like this one,' Nicklaus said. 'There's just no other golf course that is even remotely close.'
 
Related Links:
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    Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

    By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

    A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

    The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

    The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

    Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

    Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

    "This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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    LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

    By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

    The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

    While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

    The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

    The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

    An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

    The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

    The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

    “Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

    While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

    The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

    The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

    For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

    Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

    Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

    Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

    Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

    March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

    March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

    March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

    March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

    April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

    April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

    April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

    May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

    June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

    June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

    June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

    June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

    July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

    July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

    July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

    Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

    Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

    Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

    Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

    Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

    Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

    Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

    Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

    Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

    Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

    Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

    Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

    Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

    And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

    Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

    Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

    Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

    Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

    In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.

    THE MAJORS

    Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

    Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

    Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

    Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish

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    U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)

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    The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

    Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

    Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

    Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

    Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

    Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself

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    PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

    Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


    TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS

    AT&T Pebble Beach

    Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

    Travelers Championship

    Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

    Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts


    FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE


    PHOTO GALLERIES

    Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret

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    Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm