Trip Dispatch: Great golf is always around the bend in Central Oregon

By Brandon TuckerMay 8, 2013, 1:39 am

Click here for part one of Brandon Tucker's golf trip to Oregon in Portland and the Columbia River Gorge. 

BEND, Ore. -- On a clear day, you can see the 11,200-foot-high Mt. Hood from what seems like practically anywhere in Oregon. In order to make the trip from the Columbia River Gorge to the golf-loaded central region, I'd have to drive the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway: a winding, two-lane road that ducks through forest curves around the volcano. It eventually emerges along the Deschutes River, which heads past Redmond into Bend, the heart of this outdoor mecca home to 30-plus golf courses. 

Central Oregon is the perfect antithesis to Bandon Dunes: while Bandon's weather is infamously unpredictable, central Oregon's dry, sunny climate yields a long golf season and optimum conditions, not to mention a cycling, hiking and skiing-mad populous that's about as outdoorsy as anywhere. The area has numerous courses that warrant Top 100 consideration, and each is totally different from one another in landscape and design: Pronghorn's Nicklaus and Fazio courses, Crosswater at Sunriver, Brasada Canyons and Tetherow Golf Club. 

Day 4: 36 holes at the Lodge at Eagle Crest

Eagle Crest

The Ridge Course at Eagle Crest Resort in Redmond. 

As good as the top shelf is, Central Oregon's middle class golf scene has a steady roster of affordable courses that pack a punch for a little less cash. In the smaller, working town of Redmond just north of Bend, you'll find a sleeper pick for a fantastic golf-til-you-drop resort, the Lodge at Eagle Crest. Here, there are two wonderfully walkable, full-length 18 hole courses, the Ridge and the Resort. I played the Ridge, which features gorgeous holes hugging Juniper-dotted foothills that offers long views of the Cascades. It's a beautifully playable yet challenging course that epitomizes 'fun-for-all' resort golf. 

In addition to these two full-length courses, Eagle Crest features the par-63, 4,160-yard Challenge Course that I found to be the perfect three-hour round to help iron out some kinks in my game. There's also an 18-hole grass putting course, not to mention all sorts of other outdoor activities here the whole family can enjoy if you need away from the sticks. Unfortunately, my itinerary didn't have the time for a mountain bike excursion like my last trip here; duty called down in Bend: 36 holes on my final day.

Day 5: Widgi Creek and Brasada Canyons

Brasada Canyons

Brasada Canyons: one of Central Oregon's newest standouts.

Just up the road from Tetherow on the road to Mt. Bachelor is one of Bend's affordable mainstays for over 20 years now, Widgi Creek Golf Club (summer rates: $49-75). Play someone who has a season pass at Widgi Creek and chances are they know how to hit a reliable tee ball. Tall pines line every hole, making the Robert Muir Graves design one of Bend's toughest tests, particularly off the tee. The pines also make for a shady, peaceful round entirely different from what the more high profile Tetherow offers just a mile away, and from the par-3 16th tee you can see the Deschutes River Canyon tumbling well below. Hopefully by the 18th you've honed your driver, because the finisher begs for you to take a rip at the green just over 300 yards away, but trouble lurks everywhere. 

For my last round of the trip, I had to see a course that's received loads of buzz in recent years. Having stay-and-played at Pronghorn twice already, i drove past it and out to Brasada Ranch, an isolated former ranch set on slopes of Powell Butte overlooking the valley below. I stayed in a suite, but guests can rent out full cabins or groups can even take over the entire ranch. 

The course, Brasada Canyons, is an absolute joy. A recurring theme on this Peter Jacobsen design is cart paths that wind uphill between green and tee. The result is lots of elevated tee boxes played to spacious fairways, plus greens with surreal settings with either long views or mountain backdrops. Despite playing most of the round from the 6,500-yard black tees, I couldn't help but let it rip from the signature Jacobsen tees on a few holes whose views were simply too appetizing. 

So is Brasada better than the Top 100-rated Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn? That's hard to say (Pronghorn is my favorite Nicklaus course I've played thus far), but Brasada's terrain and scenery is more varied to the lower-lying juniper forest at Pronghorn. Either resort is a more than fitting climax to a golf trip in Oregon. 

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.