Australias Nullarbor course to be 842 miles long
BRISBANE, Australia ' Hit a few loose shots or three-putt the first green at Nullarbor Links and youll have plenty of time to think about your errant ways before teeing off at the second.
Thats because No. 2 is 42 miles down the highway.
Billed as the worlds longest golf course, Nullarbor is set to open next month ' an 842-mile trek through the desolate Outback of Australias Nullarbor Plains, starting at Ceduna in the state of South Australia and finishing at the mining town of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.
The course is a novelty, for sure, but its organizers reckon the par-71, which includes holes borrowed from existing golf courses and others built from scratch near motels and tourist attractions, is sure to bring out the adventurous player.
I dont think there is any two ways about it, it will be unique, Alf Caputo, the courses project manager said in a telephone interview from the western city of Perth, where he is organizing the finishing touches on the course for a planned Aug. 15 opening. The scenery along this stretch of the Eyre Highway is unlike anywhere else in the world.
Ditto the golf course. The seven holes taken from existing golf courses include some with sand greens that are raked, oiled and then rolled to maintain their smoothness.
The first two holes are among them, and they have natural grass fairways, but the 11 holes that are being built for Nullarbor Links will have synthetic tees and synthetic greens ' the most workable plan from a maintenance standpoint due to the lack of rainfall in the flat, dry land of south-central Australia.
In between the tees and green, well leave it as natural terrain, although well clear the debris, said Caputo, a former local council member. Well leave trees and natural hazards there, because we dont want to do anything to affect the beautiful scenery.
The cost of the course came in at a relatively reasonable $640,000, with about a third of the funding coming in a grant from an Australian government department which promotes tourism.
It sounds like a bit of a pipe dream, but when we checked it all out, it was so basic, Caputo says. It doesnt involve any million-dollar spending. We had the infrastructure at some of the holes already, and well pass along proceeds from the green fees to the roadhouses and motels to ensure that maintenance is kept up.
When the course opens, green fees will be a modest $40. A certificate will be issued from tourism centers at Ceduna in the east and Kalgoorlie in the west to those who have their scorecards stamped for all 18 holes.
Bob Bongiorno, a former roadhouse/motel manager at Balladonia, which will host one of the holes, came up with the idea for the course.
I first thought about it nine or 10 years ago, Bongiorno told the AP from Kalgoorlie. I had lived on the Nullarbor for 10 years, and I always felt that people just connected east and west along our highway, and traversed the distance quickly.
They endured rather than enjoyed the trek. They missed what I called a lot of the self-find stuff along the way. The whole idea was to try to create something to slow people down, and make it part of the holiday.
So far, so good in that department. The golf courses Web site had more than 15,000 hits in the three days after word of it first appeared in local media.
The idea took shape when Caputo and Bongiorno, now good friends, sat in a bar and brainstormed over a glass or two of red wine, Caputo said. All good ideas come out of a glass of red, dont they? Out of that session came the setup of the course and the thought of working with local motels and tourist attractions.
Caputo says the average group of golfers will take about four days to complete the course, which, at its most eastern point at Ceduna is 1,300 miles west of Sydney. More than 250,000 tourists annually make the trip across the hot, arid Nullarbor on the Eyre Highway, and there soon could be more: Caputo says a British travel promoter wants to put together a 10-day package which includes Nullarbor Links and topflight courses in Adelaide and Perth.
Included on the Nullarbor journey is the longest stretch of straight road on any highway in Australia. After golfers leave the par-4, 340-yard hole at the Caiguna roadhouse, they wont have to turn their steering wheels for 90 miles.
When they arrive at the next hole at the Balladonia Motel, they can take a side trip to an area commemorating the July 1979 fall to earth of the NASA research laboratory Skylab, which landed in fiery chunks around Balladonia. U.S. President Jimmy Carter is said by locals to have phoned the motels manager to apologize, and the areas shire ranger, David Somerville, was photographed giving a NASA official a littering ticket, which the council later waived.
The next hole is a par-3, 155-yarder at the Fraser Range ' home of the largest eucalyptus hardwood forest in Australia, some trees more than 100 feet tall. Theres also a working sheep station nearby.
Since the holes are designed to be played from either direction, they are not numbered. So the hole at Caiguna near the long stretch of road is called Ninety Mile Straight, followed by Skylab, and then Sheeps Back.
And dont forget Caputos and Bongiornos favorite hole ' the 19th.
Weve got a great bar at either end in Ceduna or Kalgoorlie, but the beauty of this course is that every hole has a 19th hole, says Caputo, laughing. Some just steps from the green. How good is that?
Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.
Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.
''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''
Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.
Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.
Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.
''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.
Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.
''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''
Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.
''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''
Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.
Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.
Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.
''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''
In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.
Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.
''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.
McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.
Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.
''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''
Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.
''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''
Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.
McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.
''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''
McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.
''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''
McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.
McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.
Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.
''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.
Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.
''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''
Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial
The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.
Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.
Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.
Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.
Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).
This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.
Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting
Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.
Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.
“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."
It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC.
Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.
“I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”