Erin Hills receives raves for Amateur setup

By Randall MellAugust 29, 2011, 1:36 pm

ERIN, Wis. – The 15th hole at Erin Hills stands as testament to the brain cramps the golf course can cause players competing for championships. The short hole showed it can play as an itty-bitty par 4 and still be a beast.

U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis relished watching how Erin Hills challenged the thinking of players, and the 15th typified that. Davis likes how the course will set up when the U.S. Open is played there in 2017. He called it a 'great championship test' and compared it with Pebble Beach, Shinnecock Hills and Oakmont.

At 370 yards on the scorecard, the USGA moved the tees at No. 15 up to 252 yards for Sunday’s U.S. Amateur final. It will be remembered as the turning point where Patrick Cantlay lost the championship to Kelly Kraft.

The hole was set up shorter than a par 3 was set up at the Atlanta Athletic Club during the PGA Championship. The 15th hole at Atlanta Athletic Club was 260 yards.

In Sunday’s morning round at Erin Hills, Cantlay knocked a 3-wood over the 15th green with his tee shot and back down into a gully filled with deep fescue. He had an impossible play and pitched back through the green. He might have made double bogey if he hadn’t conceded the hole with a 15-footer for bogey still to play.

In the afternoon round with the tees in the same place, Cantlay tried to make the smart play with a 1-up lead and laid up with an 8-iron. He inexplicably pulled his tee shot and laid up into a nasty fairway bunker.

“I pulled it 15 or 20 yards,” Cantlay said. “I was in between hybrid and 3-wood if I wanted to go for the green.”

Davis said he loved the flexibility Erin Hills offers, the ability to dramatically change holes and make players think over shots.

It worked at the U.S. Amateur.

“It’s really cool what they’re doing,” U.S. Walker Cup player Jordan Spieth said midway through the competition. “They really keep you guessing. You get to a tee box and pull out driver and go, `Oh, wait a minute, I’m not sure that’s the play.’ You never know what they’re going to have up their sleeve next when you come out.”

Spieth said he enjoyed the test.

“I didn’t know what to expect coming here,” Spieth said. “After driving 45 minutes through corn fields and tobacco fields, here comes this monster golf course.”

Though at 7,760 yards the course was the longest in USGA championship history, length wasn’t the real challenge. The firmness of fairways and greens were with balls rolling out.

“This is like being at home,” said England’s Jack Senior, a semifinalist. “Where the Walker Cup is in two weeks' time, this is exactly like it. This is the exact style of course I play week in, week out, so this is a real home track for me.”

Davis said watching the U.S. Amateur, there will be tweaks for the U.S. Open in six years, mostly new tee boxes not designed to add length but to create more angles requiring even more thinking on certain tee shots.

Davis said the enormous size of the property, and the natural vistas for viewing, make it possible Erin Hills could be the first venue where U.S. Open ticket sales wouldn't have to be capped. Davis, however, said sales would be capped because of bus issues in transporting fans to the course.

“Think about a University of Michigan football game,” Davis said. “You could put that many people here and they could still move around fine. You wouldn’t even need bleachers.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm

Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.