Plenty to Play for in Puerto Rico

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PGA Tour (75x100)RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico - Tiger Woods is elsewhere, leaving a void in star power at the inaugural Puerto Rico Open.
 
Enter Donald Trump.
 
Woods and the worlds best are at Dorals Blue Monster in Florida for the CA Championships. The rest of the PGA TOUR is competing at Trump International Golf Club.
 
During Wednesdays pro-am, Trump used a 6-iron to slide in a twisting 15-foot par-saver on the sixth hole. He added another par on the par-3 eighth.
 
After his long drive on the ninth, Trump told his bodyguard, When you outdrive everybody by 60 yards, thats good right? Trump followed with a nifty approach to about 10 feet, which did nothing to diminish his bravado.
 
Trump can play, huh? he said.
 
Donalds a good player, said Tom Kite, the course designer and Trumps pro partner. He hits the ball well and has a good short game.
 
The highest-ranked golfer at the Puerto Rico Open is Jerry Kelly, No. 63 in the world. No. 62 Pat Perez was to play but was among several withdrawals that also included Chris DiMarco.
 
They may be no-names to a lot of people, but theyre not no-names to us, Kelly said. We know everybody out here and we know they can all play.
 
First prize in the $3.5 million event is worth $630,000 and 2,250 points toward the FedEx Cup.
 
When Kite took on this design job, plans called for a simple resort course with forgiving fairways, easy bailouts and manageable greens. Then came the possibility of the PGA TOUR and Kites team cranked up the difficulty.
 
Its an ongoing process, Kite said. This is the first step to get things where we want. But if this tournament is well received, then the tour will want to have it here for a number of years.
 
That, Kite says, would justify tweaking things even more.
 
Kite and Trump have gotten nothing but raves about the course from the pros. Framed between the mountainous El Yunque rain forest and the blue-green Atlantic, the views are breathtaking.
 
Teeing it up is another matter. On this day, a brisk wind tilted palm trees and kept golfers guessing.
 
The course is hard, Billy Andrade said. Its long. Depending on the wind if we play some of the tees we played today, its going to be quite a test.
 
The tournament also serves as a salute to Chi Chi Rodriguez, the Puerto Rican golf great whose swashbuckling putter routine always wowed the crowd.
 
Rodriguez hasnt lost his touch. When asked his age, he said, Seventy-two. Im even par.
 
To have the golf tour on the island is a tremendous privilege for us, said Rodriguez, who won eight times on the tour. I think its going to create a lot more interest among the young people.
 
The fans out for the pro-am proved that. They swarmed Bill Haas for autographs and pictures as if he were his more famous father, Jay.
 
The early support has Trump thinking that one day this tournament will have a weekend all to itself.
 
Everybody loves it. Everybody wants to be here, Trump said. Yes, I can absolutely see that.
 
And that would only increase the wattage of the star power.
 
I think its going to flourish, Rodriguez said. And maybe someday we could get Tiger Woods to come down.
 
Related Links:
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