No 6 Players Shinne-cooked on Sunday

By Mercer BaggsDecember 23, 2004, 5:00 pm
2004 Stories of the YearEditor's note: We are counting down the top 10 stories in golf for the 2004 season. This is Story No. 6.
It was to be for better, not worse. But it was for worse. For far, far worse. And it all went to hell in a golf bucket in just one day.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club and the United States Golf Association joined hands to enter into a week-long commitment in the middle of June to host the U.S. Open.
They seemed like the perfect couple, seeing as the two had twice before entered into this agreement over the past two decades, with glowing success.
Early in the week, things again appeared to be going quite lovely. In fact, Wednesday was a big ole lovefest between the players and the links-style course and the organization running things.
I don't think you're going to talk to many people in this field that have anything bad to say about the golf course. It's a fantastic course. It's in unbelievable condition, said defending U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk.
It feels like England out here, said two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els. It's such a great layout. It's great to be back.
The course looks fabulous, said reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson. Im very pleased with the way the course sets up.
This is going to be a fantastic tournament with the golf course the way it is, the way it's set up. I mean, it's one of the best setups I've ever seen, said two-time winner Tiger Woods.
For the first three days of the tournament, the reviews were still pretty much the same; though, players could see a storm brewing in Saturdays sugar skies.
Prior to the final round, the field seemed primarily troubled with one hole ' the 189-yard, par-3 seventh. It was a hole that ran from front-to-back and was designed to be played into the wind ' not a crosswind, which was what the players were dealing with. Its landing area was also quite unreceptive.
Now, every hole seemed a concern. The wind was to blow a little harder on Sunday, and the greens were already desert dry. And, with third-round leader Retief Goosen five strokes below their precious par, the USGA had no intentions of going out of their way to give the players a bit of a break.
It's going to be interesting to see what's out for us tomorrow, Goosen said.
Interesting like sleeping-in-a-haunted-house interesting.
J.J. Henry and Kevin Stadler were the first group out on Sunday. Henry, who shot 86 in Round 3, played his first six holes in 5 over. Then came the seventh. After hitting his tee shot into the left greenside bunker, Henry left himself 15 feet for par. He missed the par save ' and the green. His putt rolled off the severely baked-out surface and back into the left bunker. He went through the same routine and eventually two-putted for a triple-bogey 6.
Stadler, too, made a 6 on the hole, when his short par putt also ran off the green.
After the second twosome came through, and still no one had made better than bogey, the USGA decided to syringe the green ' a fancy way of saying that they sprinkled a little water onto the putting surface in between some of the groups.
The seventh wasnt the only farcical ' or syringed ' hole on Sunday. And there were more tales of golfing horror in the wake of Henry and Stadler.
Tom Kite, a veteran of 33 Opens and the 1992 winner at Pebble Beach, made four double bogeys and a triple bogey in a stretch of seven holes.
I cant remember doing that when I was 6 years old, he said after his 84.
Joakim Haeggman twice putted his ball off the 10th green on his way to a quintuple-bogey 9 and a round of 83. Billy Mayfair made a bogey putt at 18 to break 90 by a stroke. Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia both shot 80. No one broke par.
Overall, 28 players in a weekend field of 66 failed to break 80 on this Shinne-cooked Sunday. The field scoring average was 78.73. Robert Allenbys even-par 70 was the low round of the day.
It was the highest final-round scoring average at an Open since 1972 at Pebble Beach, when the field combined for a 78.80 average.
But that Sunday, the winds, upwards of 35 mph, were much stronger than the ones experienced this time at Shinnecock.
The winds may have been a contributing factor, but when players walked ' or staggered ' off the course, they groused about the greens, and the fact that the USGA did very little to keep them true ' or even alive.
Ive never seen greens like this, said Furyk, who had a 79.
Any sane person can be the judge of how the greens played and realize that it's a little ridiculous, said Jeff Maggert, who shot 72.
(The USGA) lost control of the golf course, Woods said after his 76.
This is not the superintendents fault. Its the USGAs fault, and it is every year, said Jerry Kelly, who shot 81. Theyre ruining the game. The organization is not respecting the game; theyre not respecting this golf course.
If they were smart, theyd realize they look really stupid.
Walter Driver, the chairman of the USGA championship committee, pleaded his organizations case after the carnage concluded.
We start setting courses up for championships four and five years in advance, said Driver, and you cannot change an Open course setup in 12 hours. It's not possible.
So we went from having lots of compliments for what we did for three days, and then the wind blew harder and in a different direction than we anticipated, and you simply can't go redo the greens in 12 hours.
Driver even invoked the words of former USGA president Sandy Tatum, saying: We werent trying to humiliate the best players in the world; we were trying to identify them.
Asked if he thought the course presented a stern, but fair challenge on Sunday, runner-up Mickelson said:
I hit some of the best shots, I putted better than I probably ever have putted, and I still couldnt shoot par. So you tell me.
Related Links:
  • 2004 Year in Review
  • Full Coverage - 2004 U.S. Open
  • Luke List, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood and Tiger Woods at the 2018 Honda Classic Getty Images

    Honda leaders face daunting final day

    By Randall MellFebruary 25, 2018, 12:46 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The winner may need a cut man in his corner more than he needs a caddie on his bag in Sunday’s finish to the Honda Classic.

    Smelling salts might come in handy, too.

    “It just feels like you are getting punched in the face every single hole here,” Daniel Berger said of the test PGA National’s Champion Course offers. “Every single shot is so hard.”

    Final rounds have been especially rough and tumble since the Honda Classic moved to PGA National in 2007.

    That usually makes Sundays here as much about who can figuratively take a punch as who can throw one.

    Luke List will have his jaw tested after taking sole possession of the lead Saturday with a second consecutive round of 4-under-par 66, but he can take comfort in the fact that punishment is doled plentifully around here.

    “Just realizing that everyone is facing the same obstacles out there is huge,” List said. “You're not alone out there, if you make a bogey or a bad swing here or there.”

    At 7-under 203, List is one shot ahead of a pair of major championship winners, Justin Thomas (65) and Webb Simpson (66). He is two ahead of Tommy Fleetwood (67), the reigning European Tour Player of the Year, and Jamie Lovemark (68).

    List, 33, is seeking his first PGA Tour title in his 104th start. He will have to hold off some heavyweights, including Tiger Woods (69), who is seven shots back but feeling like he has a chance again. Woods closed with a 62 here six years ago when he finished second to Rory McIlroy.

    “You never know what can happen the last few holes here,” Woods said. “A lot of things can happen and have happened in the past.”


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    Crazy things have happened here.

    Three years ago, Padraig Harrington was five shots down with eight holes to play and won. He made two double bogeys in the final round but ended up beating Berger in a playoff.

    Berger, by the way, was nine shots back entering the final round.

    That was the year Ian Poulter took a share of lead into Sunday, hit five balls in the water and still finished just a shot out of the playoff.

    Last year, Rickie Fowler made four bogeys and a double bogey in the final round and still won by four shots.

    List will have a heavyweight playing alongside him in the final pairing, with 24-year-old Justin Thomas looking to claim his eighth PGA Tour title. Thomas was last season’s PGA Tour Player of the Year.

    List has never held a 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event.

    “You guys build up certain players,” List said. “I know I'll be an underdog going against Justin Thomas and guys like that, which is fine.”

    There is some inspiration for List in what Ted Potter Jr. did two weeks at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Potter, largely unknown even though he already had a PGA Tour title to his credit, held off stars Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day in the final round to win. 

    Thomas earned the right to play alongside List in the final pairing Sunday with his 65, which equaled the low round of the tournament.

    Thomas makes his home in nearby Jupiter and knows the punishment the Champion Course can dish out.

    “It's a difficult course,” Thomas said. “If you let it get to you, it can be frustrating, but if you go into it understanding and realizing it's difficult, you just kind of embrace it and deal with it.”

    Thomas played the Bear Trap’s trio of daunting holes (Nos. 15-17) in 2 under on Saturday. He birdied the 15th and 17th holes.

    Fleetwood got in contention Saturday with a pair of eagles. He’s a four-time European Tour winner.

    “I would love to get my first win on the PGA Tour this week,” he said. “It’s just great to be out here. It's great to be playing on courses like this that are such a test of every part of your game.”

    Alex Noren, a nine-time European Tour winner, is also seeking his first PGA Tour title. He is three shots back. He lost in a playoff to Day at the Farmers Insurance Open last month.

    Though this is just Noren’s second start at the Honda Classic, he knows how wildly momentum can swing on the Champion Course. He shot 65 Saturday after shooting 75 on Friday.

    “I’m a few back, but anything can happen,” Noren said.

    That’s the theme around here.

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    Thomas: Winning hometown Honda would 'mean a lot'

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:53 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas is trying to join Rickie Fowler as a winner of his hometown event.

    Thomas will play in the final group alongside Luke List on Sunday at the Honda Classic after matching the low round of the week with a 5-under 65. He is at 6-under 204, one shot back of List.

    The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year is one of several residents of nearby Jupiter. After Fowler won last year, Thomas (who missed the cut) returned to the course to congratulate his neighbor on his fourth Tour title.

    “I hope I give him the opportunity or the choice to come back,” Thomas said. “But I’ve got a lot of golf in front of me before I worry about him coming here.”

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    More important to Thomas, however, is winning this event, which is played at PGA National, one of the most difficult non-major courses on Tour.

    “It would mean a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to win any golf tournament, but it would mean more because of how prestigious this golf tournament is and the list of winners that have won this event, how strong of a field it is, how difficult of a golf course.

    “A decent number of my wins have been on easier golf courses, so it would be cool to get it done at a place like this.”

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    Woods paired with hotshot rookie Burns at Honda

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:38 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rookie Sam Burns will be in the biggest spot of his career Sunday – playing alongside Tiger Woods.

    Burns, the reigning Nicklaus Award winner who turned pro after two standout years at LSU, will go off with Woods at 12:45 p.m. at the Honda Classic.

    Burns, 20, who earned his Tour card via Q-School, is playing this week on a sponsor exemption, his fourth of the season. He is 13th on the money list this year, after a tie for second two weeks ago in Colombia.

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    Burns and Woods are tied for 11th, at even-par 210.

    Sunday is an important round for Burns, who can earn a spot into the Valspar Championship with a top-10 finish here.

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    List leads Honda; Thomas one back

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 11:25 pm

    Luke List, one of a legion of PGA Tour players who live in Jupiter, just two exits up I-95 from PGA National, shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Honda Classic. Here's how things stand going into the final round at PGA National:

    Leaderboard: Luke List (-7), Justin Thomas (-6), Webb Simpson (-6), Tommy Fleetwood (-5), Jamie Lovemark (-5), Alex Noren (-4) 

    What it means: Leader List has played well this season, with no finish lower than T-26 in six starts. Thomas, of course, is the reigning Player of the Year. The next best pedigree among the leaders belongs to Simpson, winner of the 2012 U.S. Open and three other PGA Tour titles.

    Round of the day: Thomas and Noren both shot 5-under 65s. Thomas made two of his six birdies in the Bear Trap (at the par 3s, Nos. holes 15 and17), while Noren played that stretch (15-17) in 1 over. Noren made his hay elsewhere, including an eagle at the last that canceled out his two bogeys.

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    Best of the rest: List, Simpson and Kelly Kraft all shot 66.

    Biggest disappointment: After an opening 76, Jimmy Walker probably thought he was back on track with a 68 that allowed him to make the cut. Alas, the improvement was temporary, as he ballooned back to a 74 on Saturday.

    Shot of the day: Tommy Fleetwood hit a fairway wood from 282 yards to within 8 feet of the cup on the 18th hole. He then made the putt for his second eagle of the day.

    Quote of the day: "The course played a fair bit easier with not as much wind." - Thomas

    Biggest storyline going into Sunday: List may be in the lead, but most eyes will be on Thomas, a five-time winner last year who has yet to lift a trophy in 2018. And of course, more than a few people will be keeping tabs on Tiger Woods. He'll begin the day seven shots back, trying to channel Tiger of 2012 - when he posted a 62 on Sunday at PGA National (which was good only for a runner-up finish to Rory McIlroy).