ATT Championship prepares farewell to Oak Hills

By Associated PressOctober 28, 2010, 11:41 pm

Champions Tour

SAN ANTONIO – Bruce Lietzke understands the uncertainty that most players feel when a tournament moves to a new course, especially ones put together by Pete Dye.

The Champions Tour will move its AT&T Championship to the famed architect’s new TPC course next year in San Antonio, which means Lietzke and a field that includes Charles Schwab Cup leader Bernhard Langer will get one last shot at victory at Oak Hills Country Club this week.

“This became one of my favorite golf courses,” Lietzke said. “Just a golf atmosphere here. No condos left and right. There was always a hole in my resume because I didn’t win here.”

Defending champion Phil Blackmar and Kenny Perry, who tied for 35th in his Champions Tour debut a week ago, also are scheduled to play at Oak Hills. Seven of the Schwab Cup’s top 10 have entered the final stop before the season finale next week at Harding Park in San Francisco.

Also in the mix is U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin, who led through the first two rounds last week at the Administaff Small Business Classic before finishing fifth.

Oak Hills is being retired as a tour venue after nine years of Champions Tour events. There were another 23 years when Oak Hills was the site of the PGA Tour’s Texas Open, and even another year when the event that became known as the Tour Championship was conducted there.

Oak Hills has long been a favorite among Champions Tour players who also played here during the PGA Tour’s Texas Open until 1994, which is now played at the Greg Norman design at TPC.

Oak Hills is a 6,735-yard layout designed by A.W. Tillinghast, made cozy among century-old trees. Former winners are particularly fond of it, and Texas Open champions Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin, Corey Pavin, Mark O’Meara, Nick Price, Jay Haas and Blaine McCallister are entered for this week.

Trevino has been a vocal critic of the move away from Oak Hills.

“I ain’t playing no TPC,” Trevino said when the move was announced.

Lietzke assisted Dye on the design work at the TPC course. Lietzke said he gained a great amount of respect for Dye, who also laid out the bunker-ridden Whistling Straits that bedeviled Dustin Johnson this year at the PGA Championship.

But Lietzke formerly was in that group of players who had a hard time figuring out Dye. He once said that a rocky outcropping that Dye designed beyond a green could be mistaken for the San Diego Zoo – if only a polar bear were added.

“I’m happy to say I never got fined in all my years on the PGA Tour, and that was the closest I ever came to being fined,” Lietzke said. “I got in trouble.”

When Lietzke was a young player on the PGA Tour in the late ’70s, he became one of the first to take a shot at Dye’s controversial work when Preston Trail was the site of the Byron Nelson Classic. Lietzke, who had taken the first-round lead, said he was only repeating the line about the polar bear after he heard it from fellow player John Schroeder.

“I threw that line out there,” Lietzke said, “and you don’t get booed on the PGA Tour, but I could hear some boos and hisses. Then I went on to win the tournament. I probably wasn’t the most popular champion.”

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Koepka watches as named engraved again on U.S. Open trophy

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 18, 2018, 12:10 am

For the second consecutive year, Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open. So, once again he got to watch as his name was forever etched onto the trophy.

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Masters champ Reed: 'I definitely had a chance'

By Will GrayJune 17, 2018, 11:55 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Patrick Reed’s Grand Slam bid made it all the way to the closing stretch of the final round at the U.S. Open.

Reed had never cracked the top 10 in a major championship before a runner-up finish at last year’s PGA Championship, and he followed that with a convincing victory at the Masters in April. In the U.S. Open, despite starting the final round three shots behind a quartet of co-leaders, he made a concerted effort to add a second major title.

With Shinnecock Hills declawed in response to third-round conditions that bordered on unplayable, Reed birdied each of his first three holes and five of his first seven to move to 1 over and within a shot of Brooks Koepka’s lead. He could get no closer, though, as three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on Nos. 9-12 effectively ended his title bid.

Reed finished alone in fourth place at 4 over, three shots behind Koepka after closing with a 2-under 68.

U.S. Open: Tee times | Full coverage

“Of course, Grand Slam would have been nice. But you know, I mean honestly, to me, that was really the last thing on my mind,” Reed said. “It was go out, play some solid golf, try to post a number and see if you can get the job done. I had a chance. I definitely had a chance.”

It’s the third top-15 finish at the U.S. Open in the last four years for Reed, who tied for 13th at Chambers Bay and finished T-14 last year at Erin Hills.

Reed was bidding to erase a nine-shot deficit after 36 holes, which would have been the second-largest comeback in tournament history. He was also looking to join Craig Wood, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth on the short list of players to capture the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year.

“Of course it’s disappointing,” Reed said. “But at the same time … To finish in the top 10 my last three majors, and to have a chance to really win all three of them and to close one off, it means a lot.”

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Watching Koepka, Fleetwood knew he was one shot short

By Will GrayJune 17, 2018, 11:33 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – In the end, even a record-tying performance wasn’t enough for Tommy Fleetwood at the U.S. Open.

Fleetwood started the final round at Shinnecock Hills six shots off the pace, but he quickly moved up the board with a run of four birdies over his first seven holes. He added four more in a row on Nos. 12-15, and he had a 9-footer for birdie on No. 18 to become the first player to ever shoot a 62 in the U.S. Open.

He missed, and that proved to be the difference – for both the record and the tournament.

Fleetwood waited around in player hospitality for the next three hours while the leaders finished, alternating between watching the golf (with sandwich in hand) and playing with his newborn son, Frankie. He was on the chipping green when Brooks Koepka completed play at 1-over 281, successfully defending his title and finishing one shot ahead of Fleetwood.

“Brooks kept giving me like a little bit of hope, and then he’d hole a putt just to stab you in the stomach a little bit,” Fleetwood said. “I always just had that feeling that I was one shy, so I never really got massively, massively excited.”

U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage

This was the first year the U.S. Open would have gone to a two-hole, aggregate playoff, so Fleetwood needed to stay loose for a possible overtime that in previous years would have instead been an 18-hole playoff on Monday. He emerged from the locker room and headed to the range to warm up after Koepka birdied No. 16 to take a two-shot lead with two holes to play.

“I just thought, 'I should really go up, because you never know,'” Fleetwood said. “I mean, the worst thing that could happen is if something did happen and I wasn’t really ready, so it’s better warming up with that intention.”

The solo runner-up is a career-best major finish for Fleetwood, who also finished fourth last year at Erin Hills. He now shares a piece of tournament history, becoming just the sixth player to shoot a 63, joining a list that includes Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller, Vijay Singh and Justin Thomas.

And after torching a demanding layout to the tune of eight birdies, he insisted he won’t dwell much on the final putt that got away – even though Koepka’s closing bogey meant that it ultimately made the difference.

“The putt on 18, I actually wanted more for the 62 at the time, and then it became a thing for the tournament,” Fleetwood said. “Obviously, that’s the putt that will play on your mind because that was the last shot you hit and that was your chance. But I missed some putts in the week, and I made some putts. I think everybody did. And your score is your score. And for me, just getting that close to winning a major again, I think that is the ultimate thing I’ll take from it.”

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DJ and more congratulate Koepka on social media

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 17, 2018, 11:31 pm

Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive U.S. Open title at Shinnecock Hills. Dustin Johnson, his friend and playing competitor on Sunday, was quick to congratulate Koepka. And he wasn't alone.