TPC at Avenel to Get Overhaul

By Associated PressJune 23, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Booz Allen ClassicPOTOMAC, Md. -- The first year the PGA Tour played at the TPC at Avenel, Greg Norman suggested setting dynamite to the ninth hole. A few years later, Nick Price advocated the same for No. 13, calling it a 'goofy hole' that was unfair.
 
They might finally get their wish.
 
After years of such complaints, organizers of the Booz Allen Classic - the new name for the tournament long known as the Kemper Open - are planning an overhaul to draw more marquee players.
 
'I don't know why a lot of guys don't like the place,' said Frank Lickliter II, whose victory at the event in 2001 gives him an obvious bias. 'I like the golf course the way it is. There's a lot of tradition here. And now to come in and add 800 yards to it doesn't make sense to me.'
 
The changes may not be that radical, but a one-year move to prestigious Congressional Country Club in nearby Bethesda next year gives officials time to give the course a shakedown. Players are being asked this week what they would like changed, although the ones who have decided to play naturally are more inclined to like it the way it is.
 
'I would just tweak it here and there,' said Fred Funk, a local favorite and former golf coach at the University of Maryland. 'It's not a rerouting deal.'
 
The course changes are part of a two-prong strategy by the tournament's new sponsor to draw bigger names to the PGA Tour's only stop in the Washington area. The other way to raise the profile, they say, would be to get a more consistent spot on the tour's calendar.
 
The tournament is typically held one to two weeks before the U.S. Open, seemingly a prime spot for players wanting to tune up for the second major of the year. But it also usually comes after the popular Memorial and Colonial tournaments, which makes it a tempting rest week.
 
This year is even worse. For the first time in its 25-year history in the Washington area, the tournament is being held the week after the Open. It seems everyone needs a rest after the grueling test at Shinnecock Hills, leaving just Adam Scott and Jonathan Kaye as the only golfers among the world's top 30 who will be teeing off Thursday.
 
'After they've been beat up like they were last week, the last thing they want to do is look at a golf course,' Lickliter said.
 
The tournament attracted bigger names when it was played at Congressional from 1980-86. It moved to Avenel 1987, and nearly everyone agrees in hindsight the course simply wasn't ready for professional golf that first year. The instant bad rap hurt the event for years, even though improvements were made.
 
'They rounded the edges to make it better,' said Scott Hoch, who has played this event every year but one since the move to Avenel. 'The greens were too hard and fast. You really couldn't hit shots to them.'
 
Hoch and Funk aren't big fans of the par-3 ninth, in which the tee shot is the rough equivalent of hitting a ball off a cliff, but neither is sure how it could be fixed. The 301-yard No. 14 has been criticized as being too short for a par 4, yet Funk and Rich Beem called it one of the great short holes on the entire tour.
 
Of course, Beem will always play this tournament, no matter what. His first win came in 1999 at Avenel, and he was quick to give advice to anyone thinking of changing it.
 
'Don't do it,' he said.
 
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    Watch: Daly makes an ace at the Chubb Classic

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2018, 9:01 pm

    John Daly won't walk from the Chubb Classic with the trophy, but he certainly deserves recogition for his Sunday scorecard, which came complete with a hole-in-one.

    Daly aced the 154-yard par-3 16th on the Talon Course at TwinEagles, when his ball carried the froont bunker and tracked right to the hole.

    Two holes later, Daly signed for a final-round 67 that included four birdies, three bogeys and two eagles, which both in the span of four holes on the back nine.

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    Gustafson shares stuttering success video

    By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 8:31 pm

    Sophie Gustafson shared a breakthrough Sunday morning on YouTube.

    Gustafson, a five-time LPGA winner and 16-time Ladies European Tour winner, shared her news in a 4-minute and 15-second video.

    She did so without stuttering.

    And that’s the nature of her breakthrough, something she is sharing in hopes that it will help others who stutter.

    “I’m certainly not perfect, and the next time you see me, I am going to stutter, there is no question about that,” she says in the video. “But I am excited, because I am going in the right direction, and I believe I have found the solution that works for me.”

    For someone who has struggled with stuttering all of her life, Gustafson has touched so many with her ability to communicate. She has entertained her legion of Twitter followers with her sense of humor. She also has written articles.

    Back in 2011, Gustafson touched Golf Channel viewers when she opened up about her stuttering in an interview that was aired during the Solheim Cup. Her courage in sharing her challenges was recognized the following year, when the Golf Writers Association of American presented her its Ben Hogan Award, an honor bestowed to someone who has persevered through physical ailment. She also won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award that year.

    Gustafson, 44, left the game as a player three years ago to become Beth Allen’s full-time caddie on the Ladies European Tour. She explains in the YouTube video that she is making her breakthrough with the help of Steve Gill, a team member with Tony Robbins’ life and business strategy group.

    Gustafson said Gill led her to breathing, meditation and incantation exercises that have helped her since they began working together eight months ago.

    “If you know anyone who stutters, tell them to breathe in and then speak,” Gustafson said. “I tried it the other way for 44 years, and it's just not working.” 

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    J.Y. Ko wins her first start as an official LPGA member

    By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 4:09 pm

    Make way for Jin Young Ko.

    The South Koreans keep delivering one new star after another to the LPGA ranks, and they aren’t going to disappoint this year.

    Ko made some history Sunday winning the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, closing with a 3-under-par 69 to claim a wire-to-wire victory. She became the first player in 67 years to win her LPGA debut as a tour member. Beverly Hanson (1951) is the only other player to do so.

    Hyejin Choi, an 18-year-old who just turned pro, is yet another emerging South Korean star looking to crack the LPGA ranks. She finished second Sunday, three shots back after closing with a 67. She played on a sponsor exemption. She is already No. 11 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and likely to move up when the newest rankings are released. Had Choi won Sunday, she could have claimed LPGA membership for the rest of this season.


    Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open


    Ko, 22, moved herself into early position to try to follow in Sung Hyun Park’s footsteps. Park won the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards last year. She joined Nancy Lopez as the only players to do so. Lopez did it in 1978. Park shared the Player of the Year honor with So Yeon Ryu.

    Ko said winning the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award is a goal, but she didn’t come into the year setting her sights on Player of the Year.

    “I haven’t thought about that yet,” she said.

    Ko finished at 14 under overall.

    It was a good week for rookies. Australia’s Hannah Green (69) finished third.

    Ko claimed LPGA membership this year based on her victory as a non-member at the KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea last fall. She’s already a star in South Korea, having won 10 times on the Korean LPGA Tour. She is No. 20 in the world and, like Choi, poised to move up when the newest world rankings are released.

    Former world No. 1 Lydia Ko closed with an even par 72, finishing tied for 19th in her 2018 debut. She is in next week’s field at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

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    Luiten takes title at inaugural Oman Open

    By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 3:25 pm

    MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten of the Netherlands won the inaugural Oman Open on Sunday to break a title drought of nearly 17 months.

    The 32-year-old Dutchman shot a 4-under 68 to finish on 16-under 272, two shots ahead of his friend, England's Chris Wood (69).

    It was Luiten's sixth European Tour title and the first since the 2016 KLM Open.

    Frenchman Julien Guerrier (71) virtually assured that he would not have to go to qualifying school for the 12th time with a third-place finish after a 13-under 275.

    Luiten started with three birdies in his first four holes, but bogeys on the seventh and eighth set him back. On the back nine, he made three birdies, including a key one on the 16th, where he made a 30-foot putt.

    ''It feels great. I didn't know what to expect when I came here but to play a course like this which is in great condition - it's a great technical golf course as well - it was beyond my expectation and to hold the trophy is even better,'' said Luiten, who is expected to rise to No. 65 in the new rankings on Monday.

    ''I had a great start, that's what I was hoping for. I hit some nice ones in close and rolled in a couple of nice putts and that gets you in the right position, where you want to be.


    Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic


    ''Unfortunately, I had a couple of bogeys as well on the front nine, but I recovered from that with a couple of nice birdies on the back nine and it was a good battle with Woody.''

    Playing one group ahead, England's Wood was right in the mix and tied with Luiten at 15-under when their fortunes went in opposite directions almost at the same time. On the 17th hole, Wood drove his tee shot into the hazard left and could do no more than chip his ball out for a bogey. Luiten, meanwhile, drained his 30-footer birdie putt on the 16th for a two-shot swing.

    Recovering his form after a series of disappointments, Wood was let down by the loss and said: ''It's golf isn't it? You are never happy.

    ''I played poorly for six or eight months. Would have never thought I would have put myself into contention. And when you do, you feel gutted when you don't win. I am pretty down really, but in the grand scheme of things, when I reflect after a couple of days, I will think it is a big step in the right direction.''

    Luiten's win also got him into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai, securing him a start at the WGC-Mexico Championship in two weeks.

    Frenchman Alexander Levy (70), who was hoping to finish in the top five to push into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai and grab the WGC-Mexico spot himself, did manage a joint fourth place at 11 under, but Luiten's victory kept him 11th.

    The European Tour next moves to Doha for the Qatar Masters starting on Thursday.