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
  • 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.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: