Nicklaus to Redesign No 17 at Muirfield

By Golf Channel NewsroomMay 20, 2003, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) -- The 17th at Muirfield Village Golf Club has always been a good hole. It just wasn't good enough for Jack Nicklaus.
A superlative test for average golfers, but never a subject of postcards at one of America's premier courses, the 437-yard, par-4 hole effectively met an abrupt end last August.
'I've sort of felt like it's been a little bit of a blah,' said Nicklaus, the course designer and winner of 18 major championships. 'There's nothing wrong with the hole, but it's not very hard. I don't think there's as much excitement in it.'
Nicklaus destroyed it with bulldozers and earthmovers, almost on the spur of the moment. Muirfield greens superintendent Mike McBride said Nicklaus had been talking about starting over on 17 for the past few years, then tore up the existing hole in an eight-hour span late last summer.
Before the 2002 Memorial, Nicklaus said he was considering dramatic changes to the hole. He grinned as he said it all depended 'on what my mood is next week.'
In its place he created a 478-yard, par-4 that bears little resemblance to its predecessor. The new 17th will make its debut before an international field next week at the Memorial.
Nicklaus doesn't deny he's a perfectionist. He is constantly tinkering with Muirfield Village and the almost 300 other courses he and his design group have drawn up over the years. He'll build up a spectator mound here, deepen a trap there. Seldom do the changes take on the scope of this one, particularly in a year in which every green was reseeded and 10 of the 18 were torn up and recontoured.
Not everyone at Muirfield Village has the same vision as Nicklaus.
'He'll see something and he'll make a change. You're kind of going, 'Nah. I don't quite understand that,'' Muirfield Village pro Larry Dornisch said. 'Then when it's done, you'll go, 'Wow. That's just worked out great.''
The hole previously known as 17 had a waste bunker that hugged the left side of the fairway for more than 200 yards. The landing area fell away to a valley. On the other side of the valley was a docile, sloping green protected by deep bunkers.
Nicklaus said risk wasn't a factor on the old 17.
'I don't have any problem with birdies,' Nicklaus said. 'But there's not really a gamble of any kind there. It's a pretty good-sized fairway and the green is fairly benign. If you miss the green, you end up in one of the bunkers and then it's a pretty easy up and down.'
It was Nicklaus the player who provided one of the most memorable moments at his own tournament on the old 17th.
In 1984, he stepped to the 'blah' 17th tied for the Memorial lead with Andy Bean at 9 under. His drive sailed right, some 75 yards away from the fairway and near a fence that separates an upscale housing development from the course. The ball ricocheted high off the cart path, pinballed around a deck and ended up out of bounds under a picnic table. A bronze plaque still marks the spot where it came to rest.
'I couldn't believe I made that shot,' Nicklaus said later. 'The first thing that ran through my mind was that I was going to lose the tournament. I said to myself, 'The only way I've got a chance is to make birdie with the next ball.''
So he did.
Nicklaus reloaded on the tee and drove into the fairway this time, hit a 6-iron to 25 feet and holed the putt. Bean then missed a 4-footer for par on the final hole and Nicklaus won the sudden-death playoff on the third hole -- again the 17th.
'I had enough excitement on 17 myself -- the houses were too close for me,' he said with a smile.
So far this spring, members have recorded exactly one birdie on the hole.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.