Getting a Feel for Winged Foot

By Mercer BaggsJune 12, 2006, 4:00 pm
U.S. OpenMAMARONECK, N.Y. ' Tiger Woods appeared calm and relaxed on the practice putting green, joking with instructor Hank Haney while wrapping up a brief, afternoon rehearsal session Monday at Winged Foot Golf Club.
 
By sight, everything seemed business as usual.
 
Of course, thats hardly the case.
 
Hank Haney and Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods walks the course during Monday's practice round with swing coach Hank Haney.
Woods is making his first competitive start in nine weeks, his longest such layoff since turning professional. The U.S. Open will mark his first event since the Masters Tournament ' his first event since the death of his father on May 3.
 
He played nine holes on the West Course, doing so alongside Charles Howell III, Bo Van Pelt and Jeff Sluman, before heading to the practice area.
 
Woods, who previously tested the venue a few weeks ago, didn't address the media. He's scheduled to do that in a press conference at 1:00 p.m. EDT Tuesday.
 
Monday was a busy day at Winged Foot as most of the field of 156 was on hand to get in an extra look at the testy layout which will host the seasons second major championship.
 
This is the fifth time the classic AW Tillinghast design has hosted a U.S. Open, but the first time since 1984.
 
Peter Jacobsen competed in that U.S. Open, and hes back again 22 years later.
 
Jacobsen won the 2004 U.S. Senior Open to qualify for the regular U.S. Open in 05. He then finished among the top 15 at Pinehurst to earn a return trip this year.
 
He said that he got a chance to play nine holes Sunday and found the layout equally as attractive as it was more than two decades ago, but even more diabolical.
 
The length, thats a big difference. Obviously, theyve added a tremendous amount of yardage to almost every hole, said Jacobsen, who tied for seventh in the 84 Open. I played the front nine and it seems theyve added 40, 50, 60 yards to just about every hole.
 
It isnt quite that much, but this year, by the card, the West Course will play nearly 300 yards longer than it did in 84. The official count then was 6,940 yards; now, its 7,264 ' both times playing to a par 70.
 
The West Course also held the 1997 PGA Championship, where it measured 6,980 yards (par 70), and the 2004 U.S. Amateur Championship, where it measured 7,266 (par 70).
 
But even more so than a distance disparage, there is noticeable difference between 84 and 06 in relation to the rough.
 
The rough is tougher, Jacobsen said. (United States Golf Association, Executive Director) David Fay told me yesterday that theyre trying something new.
 
That new thing is a graduated rough. As opposed to past years, the rough will be shortest nearer the fairway and increase in length the further out you go. The first 6 feet off the fairway will measure 1 inches; the next cut of rough, the primary rough, will be double that; and the secondary rough will grow from 6 to 8 inches.
 
It is tough, very tough, said reigning U.S. Amateur champion Eduardo Molinari. But the course is very fair, a great test of golf.
 
Molinari has already gotten in 27 holes worth of practice on the West Course. He played nine holes last Tuesday, nine holes last Wednesday and nine more this Monday. Thursday, he will tee it up alongside Woods for the second time in as many majors. He shot 80-77 grouped with the worlds No. 1 at Augusta. The Italian feels better prepared to handle the situation this time around.
 
Obviously, you learn a lot of things playing in the Masters with Tiger. Theres a lot of people watching, which is one of the highest pressure situations you can be in, he said. I think I learned a lot from that and Im expecting to play a better tournament.
 
No one may be more excited this week than Andy Svoboda, because no one is more familiar with the layout than is he.
 
Svoboda is a club member at Winged Foot and made it through the qualifying to earn his first spot in a U.S. Open. The 26-year-old competed in the 04 Amateur at Winged Foot and called that experience the highlight of his golfing career ' until now.
 
Im really living a dream here, he said. I grew up playing this course since I was 10 (years old), and Ive never seen it in better shape.
 
Svoboda estimates that hes played, on average, 150 rounds a year at Winged Foot. Multiply that by 15 years and he figures to have more than 2,000 rounds of experience to his credit.
 
But the current Hooters Tour professional knows the course will play far different from the way it has in the past. And hes not experiencing visions of grandeur just yet.
 
Im not going to let myself get ahead like that, he said. Im just going to go about my business out there, and whatever happens, happens. Its going to be great.
 
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  • Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

    By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

    Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

    Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

    What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

    Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

    Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

    Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

    Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

    Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.

    Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

    While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

    Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

    By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

    The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

    The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

    Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

    Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

    ''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


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    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

    Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

    Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

    ''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

    The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

    ''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

    If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.