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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    Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

    Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

    “While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

    It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

    “What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

    The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

    “I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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    Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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    Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

    The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

    Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

    Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

    1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

    2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

    3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

    4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

    5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

    6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

    7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

    8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

    9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

    10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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    Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

    It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

    Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

    "The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

    Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

    That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

    "You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

    "But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."