Stay out of the sand at Wentworth Golf Club in Tarpon Springs

By Travel ArticlesJanuary 12, 2012, 5:00 am

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. -- Florida is known for its beaches, but you can see a lot of sand with an afternoon at Wentworth Golf Club.

The golf course, about 20 minutes north of west Tampa, is known for its ferocious bunkers that dot every hole and swallow balls quickly, normally requiring a high blast over a steep edge just to get the ball in play. They are not exactly pot bunkers, but the effect is the same: If you enter, you might not escape.

'The bunkers are the key to defending the course,' said Frank Reynolds, head professional at Wentworth Golf Club. 'The course is always in great shape and there isn't a lot of water, but the traps can hurt you.'

Wentworth is not an overly long course (6,459 from the tips), but it plays longer since the bunkers are strategically placed. Most of the holes have a slight bend, so crafting tee shots is the best way to get around because going too far on a straight shot will put you right into one of the beaches. Playing a draw or a fade when needed is key at Wentworth.

The course twists and turns along a property that features homes, but they don't get in the way except on the most errant tee shot. There are plenty of trees on every hole, and the bunkers -- rather than the water -- are what make Wentworth dangerous yet fun at the same time.

Florida golf architect Steve Smyers designed Wentworth in 1990 as a private course, but it has recently gone semi-private. It is family owned, and operated by Ace Golf. With its elegant English manor-style clubhouse, it doesn't look much like a typical Florida course.

A recent visitor to Florida during a holiday vacation gave Wentworth some rave reviews.

'This is my first time in Tampa,' said Sam Carlson, of Syracuse, N.Y. 'I've played a few courses this week and this is the best. It's worth coming back to Tampa just to play this one again.'

Another benefit at Wentworth is that walking, which is usually forbidden at any upscale Florida course, is allowed. The walk, however, can be tough since the fairways undulate.

Wentworth begins with a tough 361-yard par 4 that bends to the left and has bunkers on the right and trees to the left. The second is a 453-yard par 4 that is the No. 1 handicap hole on the course. It's a long hole that has an extreme cut to the left and a foreboding bunker straight ahead. Hitting to the right is not an option unless you want to go squirrel hunting. The key is the approach, but the green is surrounded by a couple of massive bunkers on the left and another on the right. There's little lay-up room, and going for the green and ending up short means sand or a huge ditch on the right.

After a few breaks, No. 6 makes things tough again. It offers one of the tightest fairways on the course. The 420-yard par 4 plays long, so only the most confident drivers should consider taking a huge chunk off the tee.

The back side is much the same as the front, with No. 11 being the toughest challenge. At 410 yards, it doesn't seem long, but don't try to drive it. It is one of the few holes at Wentworth that puts water into serious play as it runs the entire right side of the fairway.

Wentworth's hardest challenges are the par 4s. The par 3s and par 5s can be tricky, but the greens are mostly benign; it's simply a challenge to keep it in the fairway and to plot the approach before going off the tee.

There's one more thing that makes Wentworth one of Tampa's better golf outings. Sports restaurant Mulligans is one of the better 19th holes in the area. Wentworth also offers an excellent driving range and putting facilities.

Wentworth Golf Club: The verdict

With so many choices for golf in Tampa Bay, it's tough for one to stand out, but Wentworth Golf Club offers great facilities and a challenging course that requires every club in the bag. Just remember to stay out of the sand. There's plenty of that about 10 minutes away on the Gulf of Mexico.

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.