Bethpage Black Ballpark

By Rex HoggardApril 22, 2009, 4:00 pm
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USGA logo - 100x41Seems fitting that the same year the New York Yankees packed up their balls and bats and all those ghosts and moved into the new house across the street from the house that Babe Ruth built, the golf world would return to the citys other sporting cathedral.
In some ways, the 2009 version of Bethpage Black ' which Tiger Woods referred to as a big ballpark earlier this week ' will be akin to the new Yankee Stadium, that is to say bigger. The U.S. Golf Association and architect Rees Jones have quietly added 203 yards to the layout since 2002. Whether the added real-estate will make for a tougher test will depend largely on the weather the third week of June and the wherewithal of Mike Davis, the USGAs top set-up man.
The Bethpage Open will be Davis third championship as the associations top set-up man and the unassuming man from Far Hills, N.J., has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt following widely heralded stops at Oakmont in 2007 and last year at Torrey Pines.
Players may worry when they see a Black course that can be stretched past 7,400 yards, spooky stuff considering that Woods was the only player to finish under par the last time the Open was played at the games most public major venue. But Davis and Jones look at the nip/tucks and see options.
Its a lot of little stuff that means a lot, Jones said. I reacted to what Mike wanted which was more tee options and more opportunities for accessible pin positions. It makes the pros think more.
Jones said the course will probably not play longer than 7,300 yards, noting that Davis had some 7,600 yards of prime SoCal real-estate at Torrey Pines last year but didnt approach that distance during the championship. For its part the USGA normally doesnt tip its hand so far in advance of a championship, but even Davis concedes that just because he has 200 more yards to work with doesnt mean he will use it.
Were trying to mix teeing grounds up. Whether it plays a yard longer than it did in 2002, I doubt it, Davis said.
The new scorecard may scream more ' with new or extended tees at nine holes including an additional 51 yards at the 13th hole, 42 yards at the ninth and 36 yards at the seventh (the fourth-toughest hole in 02) ' but players will likely be pleasantly surprised to learn there also will be more fairway, more options and more scoring opportunities awaiting them at the years second major.
Davis said that at least one of the biggest concerns from the 02 Open was the carry to the 10th and 12th fairways. As a result, the fairway at the 10th has been moved 40 yards closer to the tee and he said the USGA will adjust the tee at the 12th depending on the conditions.
If its a cold, wet week we could have a new teeing ground that we never use, Davis said. The changes are not huge but Id like to think we made the course more playable.
The fairway at the seventh hole, a demanding par 4, may be the best example of the more user-friendly Bethpage. For this years championship the fairway will be twice as wide, from about 24 yards across to almost 50 yards, and a new tee box will create a different angle that will allow players to be more aggressive.
We are going to give you a beast of a hole but were going to give you some room to play it, Davis said.
Maybe the only thing that will be missing from the Bethpage set up will be the now-signature driveable par 4, a Davis staple at Oakmont (No. 17) and Torrey Pines (No. 14).
The 16th (at Bethpage) could have been the only place we could have a driveable par 4, but it just wouldnt have worked, Jones said. As Davis put it, we wont force it.
Davis even hand and penchant for late-round pyrotechnics aside, he counts the 2008 Open as a perfect storm that combined an ailing Woods, affable Rocco Mediate and flawless weather, more so than a layout that was set up for speed as well as comfort, as the primary reason last years championship may go down as one of the most memorable majors.
Perhaps, but then it was Davis push to play the South Courses finishing hole as a reachable par 5, instead of a rigorous par 4, that provided a fitting stage for that all-star cast.
While Bethpages finishing line would never lend itself to closing eagles the way Torrey Pines 18th did, A.W. Tillinghast would have none of that, but that doesnt mean Davis and Jones dont have options.
There will be a lot of excitement at 18 because its a swing hole, Jones predicts. Just take a look at what happened at Augusta National last week.
Prior to the 2002 championship, Jones may have been the first to dub the event the Peoples Open. Listening to Jones and Davis talk about this years tournament, the 2009 edition may go down as the Options Open.
Hole0209Difference02 rank
No. 32322052712th
No. 547845127Fifth
No. 752548936Fourth
No. 821023020Eighth
No. 94184604215th
No. 1049250816Third
No. 124995045Second
No. 135546055117th
No. 1647949011Sixth

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Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.

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Fleetwood 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.

Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

Joel Dahmen had a 64.

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''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

“At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.

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With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

“I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

“As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.

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Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

“I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.