Crenshaw eager to show off course he helped design

By Associated PressMay 27, 2010, 2:16 am

Champions Tour

PARKER, Colo. – Ben Crenshaw’s popularity on the practice green has soared in recent days as fellow golfers seek him out to possibly unlock the secrets to this challenging course.

The two-time Masters champion is happy to oblige, even if it takes away some of his inside knowledge.

After all, it’s a chance to brag about his baby.

Crenshaw and design partner Bill Coore are the architects behind the Colorado Golf Club, site of the Senior PGA Championship that begins Thursday.

All this week, Crenshaw has felt more like a tour guide than a tour pro, dispensing information he’s gleaned from his work on the course. Things like, don’t leave the ball above the hole on certain greens and the best angles to hit in from on various fairways.

“This is a different role for me,” said Crenshaw, who’s attempting to become the first to win the Senior PGA on a course he designed since Jack Nicklaus accomplished the feat more than 19 years ago at the PGA National Golf Club. “I want the guys to play well and have fun with it. I want them to shoot some good scores.”

A tough assignment.

At 7,490 yards on the scorecard, this is setting up to be one of the longest courses ever for a Champions Tour event. The sprawling design features plenty of rolling terrain, tricky greens and gullies that can swallow up a golf ball.


Ben Crenshaw smiles
Crenshaw is eager to see the challenge his co-design creates. (Getty Images)
That doesn’t even take into account the higher elevation (6,100 feet) and the blowing winds (gusting up to 50 mph Monday).


“Tricky,” Tom Kite explained after a recent practice round. “A lot of local knowledge is required for this course.”

No one really has any depth of knowledge. Only three years old, the course hasn’t been played all that often, outside of local golfers such as Mark Wiebe and Gary Hallberg, who are both in the field.

Even Crenshaw hasn’t played many rounds on the course, just enough to know the lay of the land. Just enough to know it’s going to take some imaginative shots to come away with a win.

The course definitely won’t play easy, especially if the wind keeps howling.

“But they’re pretty skilled at breaking down a golf course and seeing how it plays,” said Crenshaw, who also teamed with Coore to design the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii, which serves as the PGA Tour’s season-opening event.

Like a proud father, Crenshaw has been asking players for early comments on the course: How’s it playing? Is it challenging enough? Do the players like it?

Eduardo Romero couldn’t resist the chance at a good-natured barb.

“I told him, ‘Ben, it’s a great course—for cows,”’ Romero said.

Only then did Romero break into a grin, Crenshaw quickly following suit.

“It’s a great course,” Romero said. “A fantastic course.”

One that’s been a long time in the making.

Coore originally scouted the land in the mid ’80s, hoping to sculpt a course just like this, one that takes advantage of the natural features. Coore and Crenshaw even had a name to go with the property: High Prairie Club.

But it never materialized.

Shortly after inspecting the property, the project was scrubbed for equestrian lots.

“So kaput, there went our golf course,” Crenshaw said.

Nearly 20 years later, another investor contacted Coore and Crenshaw about designing a course in this area. In nearly the same spot, no less, just two miles down the road.

Same type of terrain, so they maintained the same type of approach: study the features and figure out a game plan. Coore even went so far as to examine the deer and cattle trails, just to see how the animals navigated through the area.

“We try to let the site guide us in terms of the character of the golf course,” Coore explained.

What emerged is a range of drivable par 4s (hole No. 14 is just 326 yards) and picturesque par 3s.

“There’s enough for players to have their hands full,” Crenshaw said.

Tom Watson won’t argue there, having become quite fond of Crenshaw’s coursework.

“He delivered the goods,” Watson said. “The golf course is a good test, has great variety to it. He gives you a safe side and a risky side. That’s the way golf should be played.”

To take advantage of this course, Crenshaw surmised, requires patience and someone with an all-around game. It doesn’t cater simply to big hitters or short-game specialists.

“A well thought-out and a well-planned shot will get you around the course,” said Crenshaw, who’s currently designing a course near Hong Kong. “It will be fun to see these guys play.”

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Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

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.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

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.

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Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

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.

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA 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.''

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Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

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.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

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.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

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.”