Beast of a Course Awaits at Baltusrol

By Associated PressAugust 8, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PGA ChampionshipSPRINGFIELD, N.J. ' SPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- Chad Campbell stood next to his ball in the middle of the 17th fairway at Baltusrol when a man behind the ropes called out, Go for the green.
 
If he could have heard Campbells caddie, he would have known better to say such a thing.
 
Youve got 349 to the hole, the caddie said.
 
The PGA Championship on paper offers a dramatic finish at Baltusrol, with the only two par 5s on the final two holes. But the 17th is not the garden-variety par 5.
 
17th Hole - Baltusrol GC
The 17th hole at Baltusrol will measure in at 650 yards this week.
It measures 650 yards, the longest in major championship history. Most players believe Tiger Woods and John Daly, perhaps even Vijay Singh, are the only players who can get home in two if the conditions are ripe. For everyone else, it will be a conventional, three-shot hole.
 
Or maybe even worse.
 
That the only hole that doesnt make a lot of sense, Davis Love III said. If you miss the fairway by like 4 feet, it becomes a (par) 6.
 
The 17th is difficult from the start, a drive that is slightly crimped by two trees that looks like goal posts. Thick rough and trees line both sides of the fairway, and players must hit their second shot over cross bunkers.
 
Stephen Leaney of Australia hit a good tee shot and used a 3-wood to lay up about 110 yards short of the elevated green. Walking down the fairway, he took another ball out of his bag and threw it down short of the bunkers, hitting a long iron toward the green.
 
Leaney wanted to practice that shot in case he hit his tee shot into the rough. Some players wont be able to clear the cross bunkers, meaning they would have to play short of them and have a 230-yard shot to the green.
 
We dont play many par 5s like that, Leaney said.
 
Love and Justin Leonard could only think of one other three-shot par 5 they play on the PGA Tour, and that would be the 667-yard 16th hole at Firestone. But even there, Woods has reached in two.
 
This might be different.
 
Asked if anyone could reach the 17th in two shots, Campbell thought long and hard.
 
Tiger, if anybody. But I dont think anybody can, not to put anything past Tiger, he said.
 
He paused again, then added, Put Daly in there, too.
 
Indeed, it was a short list of candidates for a long course.
 
Daly is the only player to reach the green in two, with a 1-iron for his second shot in the 1993 U.S. Open, a shot that scampered through the bunker and onto the green. But the hole is 20 yards longer than it was a dozen years ago, and the heavy air of August wont allow the ball to go as far.
 
Im going to play 17 like 99.9 percent of everybody else, Darren Clarke said. Try and hit the fairway and try and leave yourself a sand wedge in. Its 650 yards and not an awful lot of roll on the ball. Even for the longest guys this week, its going to be a pretty tough hole to reach in two.
 
The hole doesnt really favor anybody the way its playing at the moment, he said. Its going to be a three-shotter for everybody.
 
Woods didnt get the chance Monday morning during a practice round for the PGA Championship. He hit his tee shot well into the rough and played it as a conventional par 5. And if he had hit the fairway?
 
Its 650 yards, said his caddie, Steve Williams, as if the question was the most absurd he had ever heard.
 
What about a monster drive and a 3-wood?
 
A 300-yard drive, you still have 350, he said. And then he repeated for emphasis, Its 650 yards.
 
That one hole says a lot for Baltusrol, which is the longest course of the majors this year at 7,392 yards, but still not as meaty as Whistling Straits (7,514 yards) in Wisconsin last year at the PGA Championship.
 
It only seems that way.
 
The air was thick and heavy with clouds that threatened to burst open with showers on the first full day of practice for the final major, keeping the ball from going great lengths. Love doesnt profess to be an expert in math, but the Lower Course felt much longer than when he played the U.S. Open in 1993.
 
I dont think it adds up to 7,400 yards, Love said. Youve got 17 and 18 that are 1,200 yards, and 6 and 7 are 1,000 yards.
 
Small wonder that when a spectator asked him what he thought about the course as Love played the eighth hole, he called out over his shoulder, Hit it 300 yards and straight every time and youll be perfect.
 
Thats what awaits the 156-man field of professionals when the PGA Championship begins on Thursday, the final major of a year dominated by a familiar face.
 
Woods already has won multiple majors for the third time in the last five years, adding to his cache by capturing the Masters in a playoff and the British Open wire-to-wire at St. Andrews, winning by five.
 
He again is the prohibitive favorite at Baltusrol because of his sheer power, although he left the course just before lunch after sticking two tees in the turf the width of his putter and working on his putting, the same drill he used in the days leading to the British Open.
 
Still, Woods is no longer considered unbeatable like he was in 2000, when he won the final three majors and nine of the 20 tournaments he entered on the PGA Tour.
 
There definitely was a perception if he was in the field he was going to win'at that time, Lee Janzen said. I think the perception now is that hes the guy to beat, but I dont think guys think its a given that hes going to win. But hes definitely the player to beat. He just thinks differently than the rest of us do.
 
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    Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

    Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

    But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

    "Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

    Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

    Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

    "I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

    Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

    "I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

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    Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

    Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

    Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

    But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

    "Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

    It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

    "I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."

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    Kang (69) wins Buick LPGA Shanghai by two

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:11 am

    SHANGHAI - Danielle Kang shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win the LPGA Shanghai by two strokes for her second career title.

    Kang, who started the final round one stroke off the lead, offset a lone bogey on the par-5 fourth hole with four birdies after the turn to finish at 13-under 275 and hold off a late charge by Lydia Ko, who had the day's lowest score of 66.

    ''I hope I win more,'' Kang said. ''I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.''

    Ko, who had seven birdies and a lone bogey, tied for second at 11 under with a group of seven players that included Brittany Altomare (71), Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and overnight co-leader Sei Young Kim (72).


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    Carlota Ciganda, who also held a share of the lead after the third round, shot a 73 to fall into a tie for ninth with Bronte Law and local favorite Lu Liu.

    Paula Creamer carded three birdies against a pair of bogeys for a 71 to finish in sole possession of 12th place.

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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    New world No. 1 Koepka already wants more

    By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 8:48 am

    If there is a knock on Brooks Koepka, it’s that he’s a little too cool.

    Gary Woodland, who threw 11 birdies at Koepka on Sunday and still finished four shots back, inadvertently captured that exact sentiment after Saturday's third round.

    “You know," he said, "Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much."

    In context, Woodland meant that there was little anyone in the field could do to rattle the 54-hole leader. (He proved himself right, by the way.)

    And out of context, the comment speaks to the general narrative surrounding Koepka. That he’s just detached enough for fans to have trouble attaching themselves to him. That he’s just a jock here to cash checks and collect trophies, to kick ass and chew bubblegum.

    But for a few moments Sunday in South Korea, it became clear that Brooks Koepka does care. Crouched on the 72nd green with some time to stop and think as Ian Poulter lagged a bit behind, Koepka finally let a moment get to him. Cameras caught the three-time major champion appearing unusually emotional.

    Of course, less than a minute later, those same cameras caught him yawning. The contrast was almost too perfect. It was as if he knew he had just been found out and needed to snap back into character – which he did.

    He promptly poured in an eagle putt to cap off a final-round 64, to win the CJ Cup by four, and to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.


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    “To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said on the 18th green, moments after closing out his fifth PGA Tour victory and third this year. “I don't think this one's going to sink in.”

    What is beginning to sink in is that Koepka now unequivocally belongs in the conversation, the one golf fans and analysts have been having over and over since Tiger Woods fell from golf's greatest heights.

    Who’s the best at their best?

    In the two years between his first PGA Tour win and his first U.S. Open victory, Koepka was touted as having the kind of talent to compete with the game's elites. It took a little while for him to get here, but Koepka has taken over as the latest player to look like he’ll never lose again. Just as it was for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas before him, this is Koepka's moment. This is his run of dominance.

    It’s a run that will have to end at some point. Every one of the guys just mentioned did cool off eventually. Koepka will, too. Maybe it will be fatigue, maybe it will be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is simply too deep for anyone to remain on top for too long.

    But what Koepka has done this year – in defending his U.S. Open title, in staring down Tiger at the PGA, in claiming the Player of the Year Award, in ascending to the top of the world rankings – is put his name at the forefront of the conversation. If he was unappreciated at times before, those days are behind him. He's already accomplished too much, proven himself too good to be overlooked any longer.

    And he’s far from done.

    “For me, I just need to keep winning,” the new world No. 1 said Sunday. “I feel like to win a few more regular Tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game's set up for that. I've gotten so much confidence off winning those majors where, it's incredible, every time I tee it up, I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my A-game or not. It's something I'm so excited [about] right now, you have no idea. I just can't wait to go play again.”