Restoring the Masters Roars
And there may be a solution.
A source close to the officials who control the course set-up at Augusta National thinks he has the answer: Multiple tee boxes.
Currently Augusta has a Members set that measures approximately 6,400 yards and a Masters set that comes in at 7,445. And thats it.
The source stopped just short of predicting Augusta National will build intermediate tee boxes to create flexibility. But, he said, he wont be surprised if thats exactly what happens.
When contacted by GOLF CHANNEL Steve Flesch, who finished T5 at Augusta, was all over the concept of multiple tee boxes, both on the long par-4s and all the par-5s.
The whole idea behind creating the flexibility is that it allows officials to adjust the length of the holes to the conditions before a round on short notice. Flesch said the Masters tee boxes at the par-5 13th and par-5 15th holes this year were just 20-25 yards long. He said when he got to Amen Corner on Thursday it was, like a funeral out there, nothing but people clapping for pars.
Added Flesch, I wouldnt trade playing in the Masters for the world, but if youre looking for excitement, there needs to flexibility in course set-up.
In other words, if a stiff Sunday wind is making the 510-yard 13th play more like 570 yards and a foolish gamble to reach in two, there should be an up tee box to bring eagles and two-putt birdies back into play.
The irony of all this, in the context of major championship golf, is that the USGAs inner circle appears to be ahead of the curve. At the urging of senior staffer Mike Davis, the 18th hole at Torrey Pines will play as a par-5 at the U.S. Open in June. Initially the USGAs braintrust wanted the final hole there to play as a long, difficult par-4.
But Davis, who thought the hole was boring as a par-4, convinced Jim Hyler, chairman of the USGAs championship committee; and the 18th as a shortish par-5---thanks to multiple tee boxes---was fait accompli.
We still want the U.S. Open to be the sternest test of the year, Davis said. But when we can, we love to create risk-reward.
And, perhaps, more roars.
Consistent with its approach to create more risk-reward and less sheer terror, the USGA, as earlier reported in this space, has actually widened four fairways at Torrey Pines South in comparison to their width when the players were there for the Buick Invitational in January.
Now comes word that the USGA has targeted the intriguing par-3 third hole for championship week. Visitors at Torrey Pines South have the option of playing five tee boxes. At the third hole those distances range from 198 yards to 113 yards.
The second-shortest option is 142 yards and the teeing ground'dead downhill and straight into the teeth of the prevailing wind'is completely exposed to the elements. Hit it long left and you are in the barranca. Hit it long-long and you are over the cliffs and heading for the Pacific Ocean.
We just dont seem to have enough short par-3s, Davis said, adding that the gradient from tee to green makes the actual distance measure more like 126 yards. Under the right conditions it will play very much like the infamous 107-yard par-3 seventh hole at Pebble Beach.
It should be great fun to watch those guys (the U.S. Open field) play that hole from that tee box, Davis said.
Annika Sorenstam, currently ranked No. 2 in the Rolex Womens World Golf Rankings, is closer in rankings points average to No. 832 (Mami Matsubara) than she is to No. 1 (Lorena Ochoa).
PLAYERS FOR PLAYERS:
This weeks EDS Byron Nelson Championship will mark the end of qualifying for THE PLAYERS early next month. A total of 69 players in the field in Texas can get into THE PLAYERS with a win at the Nelson.
Those names include Corey Pavin, Frank Lickliter and Paul Azinger..Only three Texans'Ben Crenshaw (1983), Billy Ray Brown (1992) and Scott Verplank (2007) have won the Nelson.
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McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School
One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.
McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.
It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.
McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).
Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).
Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.
Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award
The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.
The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.
Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.
The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.
A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.
Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4
Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.
Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.
South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.
Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.
The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout
It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.
Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.
Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.
"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."
Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.
Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.