Dye 10-Under-Par Possible at PGA

By Associated PressAugust 10, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 PGA ChampionshipHAVEN, Wis. -- All the clamoring about Whistling Straits being a torture test has course owner Herbert Kohler Jr. and course designer Pete Dye quite amused.
I think these boys, who hit it as far as they do and as straight as they do, they shouldnt have any trouble at all, Dye said.
Kohler, who hired Dye to turn the former military base, toxic waste dump and drug trafficking point into a world class golf course, said he expects it to be a fair test of golfs greatest players.
Regardless of how much it rains and how much it blows how much the sun shines, this course is going to be a strong test and fair test and its going to hold its own, Kohler said.
Kohler never meant to make his masterpiece uncomplicated.
Im a character that likes to see stresses and strains, especially among those players who are he best in the world, Kohler said. We can watch them week in and week out and we dont see ordinarily the kind of challenge that a major can bring out.
And we dont have any score in mind necessarily. We just want to see the best players in the world tested so that we can see aspects of their mental makeup, their emotional makeup and their courage.
Dye said he expects somebody will shoot a 65 or 66 on the 7,514-yard layout that plays to a par 72. And the winning total? With the weather thats forecast, 8- or 10-under par, he predicted.
Kohler said the course isnt set up as hard as it could be, and Dye agreed, saying the rains have kept the unwatered fescue fairways moistened.
This will be a popcorn, Dye said. Sometimes people choke on popcorn.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre hates training camp, and he still wouldnt trade places with the golfers at Whistling Straits this week.
No. I dont feel like hiking, he said Tuesday. You walk that course, its like hiking. Thats too much work. Those caddies down there earn their money, I can assure you of that.
The Straits Course, site of the 86th PGA Championship, features more than 1,400 sand bunkers, some no bigger than a coffin, in a magnificent moonscape that stretches across two miles of Lake Michigans rugged shoreline.
Favre, an avid golfer with a 2-handicap who often works on his putting after practice, has played the course several times and said even the worlds best will have trouble with the Irish-like links layout.
Good luck to em is what I say. Good luck to em. Its extremely difficult, he said. Im not a pro golfer, but in my opinion, over par is going to win it. That is a difficult course. I dont know if they can make it any harder.
Tiger Woods wouldnt say whether he likes the course, saying it all depends on whether the wind blows this week or not.
Favre has news for Woods: Ive heard people say, If the wind is a factor, its going to be difficult. Its always a factor there. Always. Its a great course, but its a beast.
And how has Favre faired on the crushing course?
My score? Ah, its been several years since I played 18 there, and we played the up tees, Id say late 70s, early 80s, he said.
About what he expects to see plenty of this week.
Bob Sowards, who won the PGA Club Professional Championship, isnt just happy to be here.
Up until this year, my main goal was to make the cut, Sowards said. This year, I feel like my game is so much better. Im going to try to get into contention. I feel I should see my name on the leaderboard.
Sowards is confident even though this is the first links-style course hes played.
The top 25 finishers at the 37th PGA Club Professional Championship in Nashport, Ohio, in June earned spots at the PGA Championship. Sowards made up eight shots on the front nine for a one-stoke victory.
Sowards isnt about to be intimidated by the course or the field.
I feel like Ive played my best on harder golf courses throughout my life, he said. Even when I had really no game, the harder the golf course, the closer to even par the winning number, the better I do.
I feel like I can make pars chipping and putting with the best of them, and so the whole key is ... hitting it where Im looking, trying to pick out the right targets and hitting it where Im actually looking.
Sowards, a 36-year-old assistant pro at Wedgwood Golf and Country Club in suburban Columbus, Ohio, and his two dozen club pro colleagues are at a distinct disadvantage this weekend.
Its not our jobs to be out there practicing our game eight hours a day; were in the shop eight, 10 hours a day teaching, he said. What I have been doing is trying to practice a couple hours here and there.
The golf course has already proven hazardous for spectators, several of whom slipped and fell on the sloped fescue grass Tuesday as they attempted to climb the hundreds of hills to watch the pros practice.
Course owner Herbert Kohler has a bit of advice for the rest of the week:
Wear your golf shoes, he said.
If you get some that grip, youll be a lot better off because there are some magnificent viewing spots all over this course, Kohler said. If you notice on 17, there are no stands and yet its one of the most remarkable holes on this course. But there are no stands because of the natural viewing areas.
There are several spots where spectators scaling the highest hills can see three or four holes at once.
So, I think golf shoes and a walking stick or an umbrella with a seat on it are the cats meow, Kohler said. Thats what youll need at this course and youll have a better seat than you will at any course.
Related Links:
  • Photo Gallery - Whistling Straits
  • Tee Times
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Course Tour - Whistling Straits
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