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Facing criticism, Hanse defends TPC Boston changes

By Rex HoggardAugust 31, 2017, 9:45 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Opinions have ranged from simply bad to downright awful this week as players have gotten a look at the redesigned 12th hole at TPC Boston.

From Dustin Johnson to Paul Casey, players have questioned why officials had Gil Hanse redesign the 12th and 13th holes. In specific, they have taken issue with a collection of fairway bunkers on 12 that first force players to carry the ball more than 260 yards but no further than 300 yards, where a pair of principal’s nose-like bunkers await.

On Thursday at the Dell Technologies Championship, Hanse explained the need for the tinkering and the philosophy behind the changes.

“Part of what we didn’t like about the two holes was the distance from 12 to 13 tee. It was a big jigsaw puzzle,” he said. “What we came up with is connecting that ridge, and looking at where that landform fell and how it made sense naturally.

“It would be right where the longest hitters that, if we kept that all fairway, would be catching that downslope and going all the way down and have a 70-, 80-yard advantage over guys who couldn’t hit it that far. The concept was just stop the fairway.”

Hanse and his team originally shaped a wide fairway that he said felt too “spacious,” which led to the bunker complex that is now in the middle of the fairway at around 300 yards off the tee.

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“The expectation was it would take several rounds for these guys to learn how to play it and how they wanted to tackle it,” he said. “Unfortunately, some of the early reaction came after one practice round.

“The conversation we’ve had with three or four players is, 'Listen, just give it three or four rounds. Try to figure it out.' If we build a golf hole that the players can figure out after one round, then we probably haven’t done our job challenging them.”

Hanse also adheres to the philosophy of pacing a round, with difficult stretches of holes followed by scoring opportunities. Under this concept, the idea was to create a more demanding hole at No. 12, which played the 12th-hardest last year during the Dell Technologies Championship, that put players in position to hit a long- to mid-iron approach shot.

Hanse also pointed out that while the fairway is relatively generous from 250 to 290 yards off the tee, it narrows to about 31 yards wide from 300 to 339 yards, which is where the fairway drops dramatically into a wild area that’s dotted with rocks.

“This golf course, rightfully or wrongly, has always been characterized as a bomber’s golf course,” said Hanse, who lengthened the 12th by 50 yards. “So when you’re making alterations, you have that in the back of your mind, and you don’t want to be seen increasing that advantage. We felt like the positioning of these hazards gives the average guy room to hit the ball. But as you want to push around 330, it gets more narrow.”

Hanse, who received widespread praise last year for his work on the Olympic Golf Course  in Rio, is no stranger to player pushback. In 2012, Luke Donald inadvertently tweeted a criticism of Hanse’s work at TPC Boston before deleting the tweet; he later apologized.

“If you are going to put your work on this stage, there are going to be opportunities for guys to criticize. We want to build holes that are interesting and require thought and learning to figure it out,” Hanse said.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.