Fight to the finish: Great finishing stretches about in Naples

By Travel ArticlesOctober 24, 2012, 4:00 am

NAPLES, Fla. -- Naples is known for a lot of things -- mostly shopping, beautiful white-sand beaches and great food -- but it also has become a major golf destination with some of the best golf courses in Florida.

Naples is quickly making its mark as the Ponte Vedra Beach or Orlando go-to place in southwest Florida. There are plenty of courses for any skill level. Some try to break you down the stretch, while others want you to go home happy.

The final three holes are the ones that can make or break your round. Here are some of the toughest finishing stretches in Naples.

The Rookery at Marco

Like most courses in the Naples area, The Rookery at Marco can make you look for that extra sleeve of golf balls. There is water everywhere, which makes the final three holes as tough as any course in Naples.

The trouble starts on No. 16, a 165-yard par 3 with no bailout. It's a forced carry to a peninsula green that has three pot bunkers in the back and water up front. The green is flat but small, so accuracy is everything.

At 390 yards, the 17th hole doesn't seem long, but it's a monster with water down the right side and bunkers all the way down the left.

The 441-yard 18th has water all the way down the right side with a lateral hazard on the left. There's a forced approach from about 170 yards and there's a bailout area, but it still requires a carry to the green that is one of the smallest on the course. The 18th is one of the toughest finishing holes in the state, said Bryan Berryman, the head professional at The Rookery at Marco.

'It's as tough as it gets,' Berryman said. 'Our closing holes don't make it easy, but they are fair.'

Eagle Lakes Golf Club

Josh Brunot, the head professional at Eagle Lakes Golf Club, says this course might be the toughest in Naples -- especially over the final three holes.

Eagle Lakes plays to 7,186 yards from the tips, but you have to keep it straight off the tee. No. 16 requires a carry of at least 250 yards over water and some tough rough. With water down the right and a narrow fairway, this 504-yard par 4 usually plays into the wind. It's one of the longest par 4s in Florida.

No. 17 doesn't sound long at 419 yards, but it has another narrow fairway with out of bounds on the left side and water on the right. Use a 3-wood off the tee, to be safe, and set up an easy approach to a tiny green. The greens at Eagle Lakes are fast and there are bunkers everywhere.

The 18th hole is a 576-yard par 5 with pot bunkers in the middle of the fairway. Most players lay up to avoid the bunkers and just try to shoot for par.

Flamingo Island at Lely Resort Golf & Country Club

With new greens, Flamingo Island at Lely Resort Golf & Country Club is becoming one of the top destinations in Naples during its busy fall season. The final three holes at Flamingo Island are challenging, but the Robert Trent Jones Sr. design is fair.

The 16th hole is a long par 5 with bunkers everywhere. If your name isn't Bubba Watson, it's best to lay up for a short third shot to the pin.

No. 17 is a 422-yard par 4 with water down the left side and a forced carry to a narrow green.

The closing hole has one of the smallest greens on the course. At 411 yards, it doesn't seem long, but keep the driver in the bag because there's water on the left side and it's not worth the risk to try to gain a few extra yards.

Arrowhead Golf Club

Arrowhead Golf Club isn't going to beat you up; in fact, it gives you a bit of a break on the closing holes. That's not to say it makes things easier, but you can catch a break and put up a decent score during your stay in Naples.

'We have some of the easier closing holes around,' said Arrowhead Head Professional Dan O'Neill. 'The course is tough, but it doesn't beat you up too badly.'

No. 16 is a 398-yard par 4 with bunkers on the left. It's a pretty straight drive, but even long hitters shouldn't try to cut off too much for their approach. There's water on the right, so a decent drive that offers an approach of about 140 yards is the best bet.

Next comes the 401-yard 17th, which O'Neill said is the toughest hole coming down the stretch. Water is all the way down the right side, and a decent drive leads to an approach to a tight green.

The final hole is a 494-yard par 5 reachable in two with a wide-open fairway off the tee. There's water surrounding the green on the approach, but it's a great closing hole for the ambitious.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.