San Francisco Bay area golf has championship pedigree

By Travel ArticlesMarch 16, 2012, 4:00 am

When it comes to championship venues, the San Francisco Bay area has it over southern California: More tournaments on more courses, more history, more memories and even more opportunities for avid golfers to sample.

This overview doesn't include the Monterey Peninsula and courses like Pebble Beach and Cypress Point. These are courses in the San Francisco Bay area proper and includes its newest member, TPC Stonebrae, a private course atop the Hayward hills overlooking the entire bay. It is the site of the TPC Stonebrae Championship held in April on the Nationwide Tour.

From the start Stonebrae promised to be unique. Just coming to life included an appeals process that took more than 20 years. But the result is a stunning, memorable, trying course by David McLay Kidd, who also designed the first course at Bandon Dunes.

Kidd's rolling, swooping, climbing and descending routing features devilish greens, deep bunkers and, on about 14 holes, amazing views of the bay. There are five bridges in the San Francisco Bay and Stonebrae is one of the few places in the region you can see all five.

When the Nationwide pros play it, the tour flips the nines so the tournament ends at the temporary clubhouse overlooking what is the members' ninth green. It measures 7,133 yards from the tips, but even the Nationwide pros don't usually play it that long.

Capable of bedeviling even the most talented young pro, Stonebrae requires long carries on some tee shots but also on two second-shot forced carries on par 5s. The sloping terrain enabled Kidd to expand his greens to include shallows and ridges like few courses in the world. Stonebrae challenges better golfers every day and is one on which higher handicappers have to approach with diligence.

Stonebrae ranks as one of the toughest courses on the Nationwide Tour, but challenging championship venues are part of the Bay area tradition. Consider:

The Olympic Club, San Francisco

History: The Olympic Club held the 1955, '66, '87 and '98 U.S. Opens and will hold its fifth this June; it also hosted the 1981 U.S. Amateur and '93 PGA Tour Championship.

Of note: Mike Davis, the head of setting up courses for the U.S. Golf Association, has said that Olympic in 2012 will be the most difficult Open course in years.

Need To know: The Olympic Club is a private athletic club dating back to the 1860s and its first course opened in 1919. It has three, the Ocean, a par 3 and the Lakeside, which hosts the championships. Playing down slopes to Lake Merced (hence the name), the doglegs force golfers to shape tee shots to stay in the fairway (which the USGA just loves). Add in small greens protected by flaring bunkers, you get a demanding test.

Harding Park, San Francisco

History: Held 2005 American Express Championship, the 2010 President's Cup, several Charles Schwab Cups and will also be the site for a WGC event in the next two or three years. Harding Park also held the PGA Tour's Lucky Open in the 1960s.

Of note: From the 17th tee you can look across Lake Merced and see the 15th tee at Olympic Lakeside. Harding Park is the home course for the City Championship, an amateur tournament that attracts the region's best. The 1956 final had Ken Venturi and E. Harvie Ward in front of a gallery of 10,000.

Need to know: Harding Park opened in 1925 and always has been a public entity. After a remodeling headed by former USGA President Sandy Tatum, it now ranks as the best urban public course in the country.

Silverado Resort, Napa

History: Silverado served as the site of the Kaiser Open on the PGA Tour in the 1970s and the Transamerica Open on the Champions Tour.

Of note: This resort features two courses, the North Course, originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and recently upgraded by Johnny Miller, and the South Course, which Jones did most of the work.

Need to know: After golf, this resort serves as a fantastic jumping-off point into the famous Napa Valley wine region.

CordeValle, San Martin

History: Host of the Open on the PGA Tour.

Of note: CordeValle has hosted the Open on the PGA Tour for two years. This resort course opened in 1999 as a sort of 'country club for a day' for Silicon Valley executives. Since then it has evolved into one of the country's best, if relatively unknown, high-end resorts.

Need to know: Tiger Woods brought lots of attention to this Robert Trent Jones Jr. resort course south of San Jose when he returned to PGA Tour play in the fall of 2011.

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.