Hawkins: Top-10 PGA Tour golf courses

By John HawkinsMay 2, 2012, 12:30 am

Back when there were no internet stories to write and no TV responsibilities to fulfill, Tim Rosaforte and I used to play a lot of golf on the road. We’d go to a tournament site and work hard for five or six hours. Around 3 p.m., Tim would make a phone call, and by 3:30, we’d be standing on the first tee of a premium layout maybe 10 minutes from the actual PGA Tour event.

They haven’t incorporated a city where Rosaforte couldn’t land the biggest fish in the pond. “You guys play better courses than we do,” veteran Scott Verplank once mused, and if that was truly the case, most of the time, it wasn’t when we went to Charlotte. Quail Hollow CC is without question one of the best locales on the schedule: great atmosphere, super-friendly for spectators, a sensible and very challenging design.

On that smiley-faced note, I take you on a trip through my list of the the Tour’s 10 best courses. Majors and rotating “specialty events” not included:

10. Harbour Town – Gets the nod over Torrey Pines and Greenbrier's Old White, although many Tour pros would have the Hilton Head track in the middle of the pack. A clever, unique voyage with a strong variety of holes. Could use a trimming of overhanging limbs in the fairways, but I’m a critic, not a landscaper.

9. Innisbrook – Perhaps no longer the most underrated course of the bunch, although the recently vacated title sponsorship could jeopardize the St. Pete/Clearwater stop. You have to remind yourself that it’s Florida. A meat-and-potatoes test with lots of trees and elevation change. Hopefully, this one sticks around.

8. TPC Sawgrass – Over-designed and pimped-up, in the opinion of many, but still a quality venue. The 16th is a fabulous par-5, the leadoff batter in the much-heralded closing stretch, but there are a half-dozen holes better than 17 and 18. The Stadium strikes me as an obstacle course for the big boys, which isn’t really a compliment.

7. Muirfield Village – Jack’s Place might deserve better, but I can’t go higher than seventh. Conceived to accommodate long hitters, it's not exactly the monster of yesteryear, and the targets are too ample for short irons. Nicklaus did an excellent job on an absolutely stellar piece of land. Time and technology are to blame here.

6. East Lake – An old-school ballpark with lots of muscle, and when the rough is up, good luck fellas. Position on the greens is essential to success. The par-3 18th doesn’t bother me; at least the millionaires have to hit a long iron in and wish upon a birdie. A stout collection of par 4s define this relatively simple design.

5. Firestone – If you’re among the cliché-thinkers who say this layout is boring, go play it three or four times. Nobody beats this place up, at least not when it’s suitably conditioned. No design stop has stood up to modern equipment longer or more adequately. Come back in 100 years and 12 under will still win half the time.

4. Congressional – I hemmed and hawed about including this one, but it’s a “regular” Tour stop that moved to Philly to make way for the softest U.S. Open ever played. If they ever figure out how to grow grass here, we’re talking about one of the top 40 courses in America. Strongest features are the awesome closing stretch and overall sensibility. It beats you up one stroke at a time.

3. Riviera – A daring, imaginative trip and forever a favorite among the Tour pros, Riviera is where class meets sass. Even in the heart of southern California’s muddy season, the George Thomas creation always shines. Just a very cool place to play golf. In the early fall, I’m thinking there isn’t a weak spot on the grounds.

2. Quail Hollow – It’s now hard to believe the Tour left this place in the mid-1980s, when it transferred the old Kemper Open to suburban D.C.’s vastly inferior TPC at Avenel. You would never get tired of playing Quail Hollow. Good golf is rewarded without exception, and bad golf will lead you straight to the bar. I’d point out the terrific finishing stretch, but it starts on the first tee.

1. Pebble Beach – A gem in every sense, an American treasure that can't be compromised because the layout would work anywhere. Presiding over the Pacific, however, Pebble is almost worth the two arms and three legs it costs to play. Small greens, strategic nuances galore, and from the 12th hole on, you'd better know what you're doing. Worthy of every golfer's bucket list, not just the guys who get paid to play for a living.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.