How Tough is Torrey

By Michael CollinsJune 12, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's note: Michael Collins has been a stand-up comedian for 15 years and has more than seven years experience as a professional caddie. He currently covers the PGA TOUR as a correspondent with XM Satellite Radio and takes his turn on The Turn Mondays on GOLF CHANNEL.
The Open?
 
Its weird walking around Torrey Pines and seeing all the USGA signs around and no Buick signs. I know its the US Open but the way guy are talking about the set up, it feels wrong.
 
Everyone I talk too says this is going to be a fair test of golf with the graduated rough. I talked to one caddie who said if the wind didnt blow the winning score could be double digits! Of course this was after talking about his party days in the late 60s, and after he walked to his top ten world ranked player the caddie standing next to me leaned over and said, Thats got to be a little left over in his system from the 60s! We both laughed but agreed that the course is playable.
 
Caddies are talking about how this set up may play a little easier than when they were here earlier in the year. How you ask? Because in late January, early February, the greens are too soft and get extremely bumpy. The fairways are so wet that many times you get mud on your ball causing havoc with iron shots.
 
They all say yes the greens are fast but they are firm and running true and because of that when you get a putt on line it will stay on line. Different than earlier in the year when sometimes even 3-footers can be putt and hope.
 
The other thing is the first TWO cuts. The first cut just off the fairway has grass that is so dense the ball almost always sits up; something I dont know was done on purpose. The second cut is a coin flip (truly about 60/40), most players and caddies believe if you get in it, you can get enough club on it to get it to the green. Its the 3rd cut where players are going to be D-E-D dead.
 
I had a player tell me that on Monday he tried to hit a sand wedge out and only advanced it 15 feet! Whats that mean? It means the courses defense is length. Just over 7600 yards, but it doesnt necessarily favor the long hitter. Why? Because big hitters, miss big.
 
When in regular tournaments they can just muscle a 7, 8, or 9 iron on the green, this week theyre going to have to chip out sideways first. But the short straight hitter is still going to have to hit a 4 iron in to a green that is designed for a 7 iron.
 
The fairways are not running like weve seen US Open fairways run in the past. Were used to seeing guys hit drives that run 40 to 50 yards once they get on the ground... not this week, 15-20 max.
 
The last and I think most important thing about this week is familiarity. Guys came here expecting to see a different course and when they got here they went, Hmmm, this aint that bad. Expecting to see fairways that were as wide as sidewalks, instead seeing fairways that seem reasonable is giving these guys a little bit of confidence.
 
What they dont know is two holes will have greens with no actual holes in them, just a flagstick stuck in the ground. It isthe USGA and theyre going to get you somehow!
 
Ive decided what the TOUR needs. Permanent traveling barbershop. Last week when I was home I went to the barbershop for the first time in months and the two hours I spent hanging out there proved one thing to me. All the problems of the TOUR (and most of the problems of the world) could be solved in a barbershop.
 
Its amazing how after a good heated argument over Swiss cheese being better than provolone that the world can come into perspective. We then moved on to questions over what would happen if one week we made the TOUR play literally at a goofy golf course (miniature). How fun would it be to see if guys reacted the same after hitting the windmill three times as they would a three putt?
 
My grand plan:
 
There needs to be a tournament that the players have to caddie for their caddies and they have to carry the tour bag. I dont want to hear about, oh my back could get hurt, I could pull a muscle... you werent thinking about that when you loaded that bag up with rain gear, 2 dozen balls, and $30 dollars worth of change. And how would players react to their caddies doing unto them...
 
Would you watch?
 
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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.