Doral redesign has Stricker, others starting fresh

By Doug FergusonMarch 4, 2014, 11:37 pm

DORAL, Fla. – Steve Stricker usually doesn't show up at a tournament on Sunday. He made an exception for the Cadillac Championship, and it made perfect sense.

And not just because snow is in the forecast at home in Wisconsin.

This is the 20-year anniversary of the first time Stricker played the Blue Monster at Doral.

Now it seems as if he's on a blind date.

''You know you're at Doral, but it doesn't feel anything like it,'' Stricker said Tuesday. ''A few holes, they haven't changed. But then you step up there, and 80 percent of them look different from the tee.''

And that was before he saw the Trump helicopter in all its glory to the left of the 10th tee.

''Isn't that something?'' Stricker said. ''That was probably the first thing they built, that helipad.''

Donald Trump bought Doral and is putting a golden touch on the resort, which includes the Blue Monster (now officially known as Trump National Doral). He brought in Gil Hanse, the architect who is designing the Olympic golf course in Rio, for a makeover the likes of which the PGA Tour has never seen.


WGC-Cadillac Championship: Articles, videos and photos


Some things haven't changed – the tropical warmth, and jetliners soaring over the golf course every minute as they descend on Miami International Airport. Trump didn't get the flight patterns changed. Not yet, anyway.

But with few exceptions, it's a brand new course.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain is in his first year on the PGA Tour. He only moved to Miami in December. He has played Doral four times, making this the one course he knows better than the other 68 players in the field, who are getting to know it for the first time.

''That's the feeling I have everywhere I go,'' he said. ''Now they know how I feel.''

The opening hole used to be one of the easiest par 5s on tour. A big tee shot in the fairway would leave a short iron into the green for the second shot. Making par felt like losing a shot to the field.

Stricker played a practice round with Jim Furyk, a past champion at Doral. Furyk hit a tee shot down the middle and had his head down as he walked toward the ball. Finally, he looked at his next shot – just under 260 yards to go, down and to the right with water wrapping around the right side of the green and bunkers dotting the landscape.

''Wow,'' Furyk said.

''You're going to be saying that a lot today,'' Stricker told him.

Whether the changes are for the better won't be known until Thursday when the scores count, and even then the opinions will vary. Odds are the player with a 68 might have a different answer from the guy who shot 75.

It's longer and stronger. Perhaps the biggest change on any section of the golf course is the 15th and 16th holes.

The par-3 15th is only about 150 yards, but water wraps around all but the far right side of the green. Jordan Spieth hit an 8-iron to the far back of the green. It landed about six paces from the back and wound up down the bank and into the water.

The short par-4 16th is a driver over the water, unless a player chooses to lay up with an iron to the right.

Spieth was stunned to learn the lake wasn't there before.

This is one time the 20-year-old Texan has an advantage. He knows the course about as well as anyone, which is not very well at all.

''Everyone's experience is gone,'' Stricker said.

As for Tiger Woods?

He is a four-time champion at Doral. He often talks about putting from memory, which will do him little good on a course where the greens have been redone. The shape of some holes is entirely different. There are slopes on the greens that weren't there before.

Woods was not at Doral on Tuesday, and the tournament was still awaiting word on whether the lower back injury that led him to withdraw from the Honda Classic on Sunday will be healed enough to play. If he does, he'll get one practice round on the Blue Monster before he defends his title.

''It's going to be a bit of a shock to him, I think because it's just such a different look,'' Jason Day said.

Justin Rose, who won at Doral two years ago, would rather a course go through a massive overhaul than just a few tweaks.

This was an overhaul. Trees are gone. Others have been planted. There are bunkers where there had been grass (left of No. 3). There is water where there wasn't water.

''So you don't get the sense of being on the same golf course,'' Rose said. ''I think if they had just reworked the greens and everything else looked identical, that might mess with your instincts more. But I think you really just view this as a new golf course. I didn't bring my yardage book from the past number of years. So it's a clean sheet.''

The busiest guys all week have been the caddies.

Jimmy Johnson, who works for Stricker, went back to the course Monday evening after a practice round to study. He normally would have been out there by himself. But when he arrived at the par-5 eighth hole – a completely different look with carry-over water for the second shot – he found three other caddies and joined them in stepping off the yardage for the best place to lay up.

''It took us 40 minutes,'' he said.

 

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen: