A Major Returns to Rochester

By Golf Channel NewsroomAugust 3, 2003, 4:00 pm
Royal St. Georges was an unfamiliar ' to most ' links layout, idiosyncratic in character. Olympia Fields was straight-forward, but a strange acquaintance nonetheless.
Enter Oak Hill Country Club, site of the 85th PGA Championship, and, in a way, a combination of its two major predecessors.
Oak Hill is a par-70 venue, extending 7,098 tree-lined yards. Built by Donald Ross in 1923, its traditionally tight with tumbling fairways and tiny greens.
Like Olympia Fields, it has a sit-in-the-front-of-the-classroom persona ' while Royal St. Georges is more of a class prankster.
But this years U.S. Open course lacked a professional link to those in the field. It had not hosted a major event on the regular circuit ' it was the site of the 1997 U.S. Senior Open ' in over 40 years.
Some, if only a few, had previously played Royal St. Georges in the 1993 Open Championship. The same can be said of Oak Hill, which hosted the 1995 Ryder Cup Matches and the 1989 U.S. Open.
The Rochester, N.Y. layout has also been the site of two U.S. Amateurs (1949 and 1998), two other U.S. Opens (1956, 68), a U.S. Senior Open (1984), and one PGA Championship (1980).
Charlie Coe captured the '56 U.S. Amateur, while Hank Kuehne came through the draw unscathed in '98.
Carey Middlecoff won the 56 Open, while Lee Trevino won over Jack Nicklaus in 68. Nicklaus exacted a bit of revenge on the course when he won the 80 PGA by a full seven shots.
Curtis Stranges fortunes were reversed in two Oak Hill appearances. He captured the 89 U.S. Open ' his second consecutive national championship, but went a dismal 0-3 as a captains selection in the 95 Ryder Cup.
Strange, needing only to halve his singles match with Nick Faldo to give the Americans victory, lost the final two holes; Faldo won 1-up, and the Europeans retained the Cup.
Perhaps that shocking moment will turn out to be a harbinger. Its been 73 years since a European-born player won the PGA Championship. Tommy Armour, the Silver Scot, won the 1930 PGA at Fresh Meadows Country Club in Flushing.
Neither Strange nor Faldo will make the return trip to Oak Hill, but several of their teammates will be in attendance, including Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Davis Love III, Colin Montgomerie, Loren Roberts, Brad Faxon, Jay Haas, Peter Jacobsen, Tom Lehman and Jeff Maggert.
Several other prominent golfing figures have ties to the area. Walter Hagen, who won five of his 11 major championships in the PGA, was a Rochester native. Jeff Sluman, the 1988 PGA champion, is a native of nearby Greece. Instructor Craig Harmon is the head professional at Oak Hill.
Then theres Sammy Urzetta. The East Rochester resident recorded a stunning victory in the 1950 U.S. Amateur Championship.
This is one of four majors to be contested in the Empire State in a five-year span. The 2002 U.S. Open was held at Bethpage in Farmingdale. It will return to Shinnecock at Southampton in 2004, and to Winged Foot at Mamaroneck in 06.
But for now ' and once again ' the major spotlight is cast down on Rochester.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage of 2003 PGA Championship
  • Oak Hill Course Tour
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    Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

    Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

    “While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

    It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

    “What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

    The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

    “I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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    Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:

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    Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

    The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

    Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

    Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

    1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

    2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

    3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

    4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

    5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

    6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

    7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

    8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

    9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

    10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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    Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

    It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

    Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

    "The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

    Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

    That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

    "You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

    "But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."