Why Tiger Might Play Barclays

By Brian HewittJanuary 30, 2008, 5:00 pm
The wooing of Tiger Woods has officially begun. Now that New Jerseys prestigious Ridgewood Country Club has acquired the rights to host The Barclays, which will also serves as the FedExCup playoff opener in late August, the drive is on to get the worlds No. 1 into the fold.
By all accounts, Ridgewood Country Club, a classic 27-hole A.W. Tillinghast design complex in Paramus, N. J., is golf in its purest form. There is an East nine, a West nine and a Center nine. The tournament course will be a composite of seven holes from the East, five holes from the Center and six holes from the West. That configuration will play 7,304 yards to a par of 71.
It will flow very well, said David Reasoner, Ridgewoods head pro. And that particular composite course will allow us to handle the infrastructure concerns.
One high-ranking USGA official told GOLF CHANNEL that room for corporate tents and other on-site support trailers and equipment could be a problem at Ridgewood. But that same official said it wouldnt matter what 18 holes the TOUR selected for The Barclays. Theyre all great, the official said.
The USGAs headquarters are also in New Jersey. So are other Tillinghast designs at Baltusrol and Somerset Hills. Tillinghast also designed Winged Foot across the state line in Westchester County.
The sixth hole for the Barclays (normally the third hole on the Center nine) is a drivable 294-yard, par-4 and Ridgewoods signature hole. In the old days the members called it the five and dime because most played it 5-iron off the tee and a 10-iron (now a wedge) into the green. Woods, who recently began designing courses himself, is on record as saying golf courses should have a drivable par-4.
Woods tied for fourth at the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol and missed the cut by three strokes, not long after the death of his father, in 2006 at Winged Foot. But Woods has often spoken fondly of his rounds at the San Francisco Golf Club when he was a member of the Stanford Golf team in the mid-90s. San Francisco Golf is also a Tillinghast design.
I believe Tiger would love Ridgewood, Reasoner said. Its an old, traditional, tree-lined course and you have to be able to work the ball both ways.
It was no secret that Woods didnt like the layout at Westchester Country Club which preceded Ridgewood as The Barclays venue. And to be sure, if he decides to skip The Barclays this year it might be purely a matter of scheduling and have nothing to do with Ridgewoods relative merits.
But if he stays away, most course critics will tell you, he will be missing something special. Ridgewood is not overly tight, Reasoner says. But it has incredible green complexes.
It will be months before Woods commits himself, one way or the other, on Ridgewood and this years Barclays. Meanwhile Reasoner will be excused if he takes Sunday off to watch the Super Bowl.
Hes a Giants fan. And he gives the occasional golf lesson to New Yorks coach, Tom Coughlin. As you might imagine, Coughlin doesnt find the time to play a lot of golf. But every once in a while, Reasoner says, Ill get a call from him and hell say something like, Ive got to play in this outing coming up. Can you help me get the ball airborne?
The problem for Reasoner Sunday is the opponent. I come from New England, he says. And most of my family will be rooting for the Patriots.
On another football/golf front, officials of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am will have their cell phones set on the loudest ring tone Sunday night.
They are still waiting to hear from New England quarterback Tom Brady and his coach, Bill Belichick. Both have been invited to play in their event which begins with practice rounds the day after the Patriots-Giants game.
We can wait until Sunday night if we have to, said tournament official Steve Worthy. Obviously wed like to know before then.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, Worthy said, has already committed to play in the Pro Bowl, which is the same Sunday (February 10) as the final round at Pebble Beach. Brady, if he gets league clearance due to injury, could skip the Pro Bowl and play in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Brady indicated at Tuesdays Super Bowl media day that he probably will not make it to the Monterey Peninsula next week.
If Brady and Belichick dont make it, the tournament will go to the top of a very long waiting list and pick two local amateurs as invited guests. The tournament doesnt release the going rate. But the downstroke for an amateur to play in the event is believed to be somewhere between 10 and 15 thousand dollars.
One of the last calls Tiger Woods made after destroying the field at Torrey Pines and before getting on the plane to Dubai was to instructor Hank Haney, who had left California a day earlier.
All he wanted to talk about, Haney informed me, was what he could improve on for next week.
Meanwhile, Haney remains sensitive to criticism of Tigers accuracy off the tee. And it speaks, among other things, to how fiercely loyal he is to Woods.
Tiger finished 59th in driving accuracy at the Buick Invitational but he tied for second in greens in regulation. Haney repeated that when Woods hits a drive, say, three degrees off line its more likely to end up on the first cut of the rough than a player who carries the ball 30 yards less off the tee and stays in the fairway.
Geometry, Haney said emphatically.
Tiger has been working hard on his short game, Haney added. And he had two chip-ins at Torrey and a great bunker shot on the last hole on Friday. It is always nice to see hard work pay off.
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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

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    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”