Rakes Make Memorials Bunkers Tougher

By Golf Channel NewsroomMay 30, 2006, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio - Jack Nicklaus turned to an Amish community for the latest weapon to combat low scoring in golf.
Its called a rake.
This isnt the garden variety rake, but a wooden one with tines that are 21/2 inches apart. Nicklaus ordered 150 of them for the bunkers at Muirfield Village, then made a slight adjustment so they would be more potent.
As I was testing them on Saturday, I found that once the bunker was raked the second time, the rake was too narrow and it just went right back to a smooth bunker, Nicklaus said. So I said, Lets take every other tooth out.
The rakes create furrows in the sand, so the ball will sit atop a slight ridge or nestle between them. It makes it difficult to get any spin on the ball, therefore making it tough to get the ball close to the hole.
OK, so its not as high-tech as titanium, not as sophisticated as sub-air pumps.
Still, the gap-toothed, wooden rakes being used this week at the Memorial might be enough to bring scores down, or at least make world-class players think twice about hitting into bunkers.
And thats the whole idea of a bunker, isnt it?
Nicklaus has designed hundreds of golf courses around the world, and he could think of three reasons why an architect would put in a bunker'it looks nice, it helps define the shape of the hole and it penalizes an errant shot.
To this point in time, theyve been aesthetically pleasing and they guide you around the golf course, Nicklaus said. But they havent been penal. So I think that third element needs to come into it. I thought that for a long, long time.
Nicklaus, the tournament host who is not playing the Memorial for the first time, spoke for nearly an hour Tuesday and not once did he say anything about the golf ball going too far.
He long has lamented that technology has required courses to spend millions of dollars lengthening the golf course to make it more challenging. And all he needed to do was build a new rake?
Whether it does any good will be determined over four days at Muirfield Village, where the winning score as been double digits under par every year since 1990. Not that theres anything wrong with that.
But it speaks to the notion that making golf tougher might mean making conditions more ragged.
One reason driving distance has increased so much over the years is that fairways are firmer and tighter than carpet in a five-star hotel. Elaborate lawn mowers can make greens smoother than a billiard table. And the sand is raked so smooth that players dont even wince when they see their balls disappear into a bunker. More times than not, theyre relieved.
Brad Faxon and Jerry Kelly got their first look at the furrows in the bunkers during a morning practice round.
Its a hazard, Faxon said.
Of greater concern to Kelly was the methodology in the art of raking a bunker. When the furrows run toward the target, players at least have a chance of getting their club on the ball. When the furrows are perpendicular, players have to hit behind a clump of sand, and they cant get much'if any'spin on the ball.
And from a fairway bunker?
Its a wedge out, Kelly said. You might be able to move an 8-iron.
Indeed, this was a dominant topic of conversation in the locker room and in the practice areas, driven by curiosity whether this is a new twist to the Memorial or if players can expect to see this every week.
No decision has been made longterm, said Henry Hughes, chief of operations for the PGA Tour. Its strictly a test.
Ironically, Nicklaus takes the blame for bunkers being so perfect in the first place. Years ago, he wanted a clean look in the bunkers and his staff developed a rake often seen throughout the PGA Tour'round, with tines about 11/2 inches long.
Now, all the bunkers are so perfect, theres no penalty anymore, he said.
Paul Azinger, one of the best bunker players on tour, doesnt necessarily agree. Azinger noted that he was 0-for-10 in sand saves at the Memorial a year ago. I thought they were hard enough, he said.
And while the corn-row look in the bunkers should make them tougher, it could eliminate some of the excitement. In the most exciting finish of this prestigious event, Azinger holed out from a greenside bunker at No. 18 for birdie to beat Payne Stewart in 1993.
In these bunkers, hes probably lucky to be within 20 feet.
When Jim Furyk won here in 2002, the pivotal shot was holing a bunker shot on the par-5 15th for birdie.
The pin would have to be pretty sturdy, he said with a smile.
Defending champion Bart Bryant was asked the last time he saw bunkers like the ones at Muirfield Village.
A little nine-hole golf course in New Mexico, he said. We had one bunker out on the course that never got raked.
He was kidding, but not much.
Whether this becomes part of the tour landscape remains to be seen, like when the tour started putting the flags three and four paces from the edge of the greens in 2003.
Nicklaus doesnt recall any ridges in the bunkers since Oakmont in the 1962 U.S. Open, which he won in a playoff over Arnold Palmer. The furrows were so deep there that the best anyone could do was pitch out sideways.
He doesnt think these ridges are that bad.
Matter of fact, I was in two bunkers when I was out there Saturday, he said. And I got both up-and-down.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.


Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.

Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.

Here are some other social media posts that have surfaced:

Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

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.''