A Fine Mess at The Tour Championship
Mother Nature has more than compensated for the drought she wrought the area this summer. Nearly 13 inches of rain have fallen since mid-September at East Lake. It continued Monday and Tuesday, and more is expected before Thursdays opening round of The Tour Championship.
Its more than just a little wet. Its a quagmire out there right now, said 1999 champion Tiger Woods. Its going to be amazing to see if they can actually get this course playable so we dont have to play lift, clean and cheat.
PGA Tour and tournament officials havent yet said whether or not they will in fact play lift, clean and place ' as its more diplomatically known ' or lift, clean and replace.
The difference between the two is in the replacement of the ball once it has been wiped clean. In lift, clean and place, a player can replace his ball within one club length of the original position. In lift, clean and replace, the ball must be put back in its exact spot.
'I would be surprised if it got anywhere near dry,' said Phil Mickelson. 'It was playable (Tuesday), but it was playable at lift, clean and place.'
Woods is one who hopes the elite field of 30 will have the opportunity to play the ball where it lies.
I totally understand it, he said in relation to the tour implementing either version of lift and clean. I just think that if you get a professional with a ball in the hand, you know, the scores are going to be really low. It takes a lot of understanding and feel and talent to play with mud on your ball, and a lot of luck, too, by the way.
Scores have been particularly low the last two weeks on tour, primarily because players have been able to lift, clean and place.
The field got to do it while playing the Palm Course over the first two days of the Disney Golf Classic, where Bob Burns won with a 25-under total. Jonathan Byrd then won the Buick Challenge with a 27-under tally while playing all four days under those rules.
And even though a thick, wet rough will be present to penalize players this week, low scores are again expected.
The difficulty in the past with East Lake has been the pitch in the fairways, making it very difficult to hit; and then the ball goes in the rough and you have bunkers in front of the green that you have to carry out of the rough, Mickelson said.
You have to look at, well, about 3-under being par, and realistically, 5- or 6-under a day being about what you should expect to shoot, which would put the winning total around 20-under.
Mickelson isnt the defending champion, but he is the last man to win this event at East Lake. He came from behind to defeat Woods in 2000, becoming one of only four players ever to topple Tiger when he held a 54-hole lead.
The two will be paired together in the opening round.
Mike Weir won the tournament in a playoff a year ago at the Champions Golf Club in Houston. However, the Canadian is mired in 77th place on the money list and is sitting at home this go-around.
The $5 million Tour Championship is for the top 30 players in earnings. There are nine first-time participants vying for the $900,000 winners check.
East Lake, as a result of the event being sponsored by Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, is now the tournaments primary host. Champions Golf Club will again be the venue in 2003, but it will return to Georgia in '04 and 05, and possibly beyond.
East Lake hosted the event in 1998 (won by Hal Sutton) and 2000. Champions was the site in 1997 (David Duval), 99 and 2001.
This years venue is steeped in tradition and change. It is the home course to Bobby Jones, and the clubhouse is saturated with his memorabilia.
But over the years the course, which hosted the 1963 Ryder Cup, deteriorated along with its surroundings. As middle-income housing gave way to low-income renters locals literally feared for their lives while trying to play the haggard layout.
Stories of golfers being accosted and threatened at gunpoint finally turned to ones of inspiration when a local charitable foundation purchased East Lake in 1993. A year later, Rees Jones restored Donald Ross original course design. The East Lake Community Foundation was also formed to revitalize the neighborhood. All profits from the club, as well as charitable donations, support the foundation.
Statistical preview for the Tour Championship
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates. And click here for the full collection of articles.
No. 1: Dec. 18