Notes Oakland Hills No Monster
Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton sees the venerable course a little differently these days.
He has played Oakland Hills numerous times in advance of the Sept. 17-19 matches, including 27 holes on Sunday. He says it requires restraint off the tee, and it will favor players who can manage their game.
'I'm not making it sound like a 94-pound weakling,' Sutton said Tuesday. 'What I'm saying is it's going to take management to play this golf course. It's not the monster that it used to be.'
The last major event at Oakland Hills, located in the Detroit suburbs, was the 1996 U.S. Open, where assistant Ryder Cup captain Steve Jones won at 2-under 278. Sutton had not played there since the 1985 U.S. Open, where he tied for 23rd.
'It's not what I remember it being,' Sutton said. 'But the greens are everything I remember them being. It will take a good iron player. You can't be a great putter if you putt from the wrong spot of the greens at Oakland Hills.'
The one place power might be a factor is at No. 6, the shortest par 4 on the course.
Sutton said the PGA of America has built a new tee that has been moved up 25 yards and will allow big hitters to try to reach the green. He said it will play about 310 yards up a slight hill.
BACK TO SCHOOL
Michelle Wie isn't the only member of the family who has to go back to school.
Her father, B.J. Wie, has been on a one-year sabbatical from the University of Hawaii, where he is a transportation professor. That ends when his 14-year-old daughter finishes her summer vacation by playing in the U.S. Women's Amateur next week, followed by the Wendy's Championship on the LPGA Tour.
'Right after that, I'll be in a lecture,' he said.
He only has two classes -- business logistics management and a graduate course in advanced tourism analysis -- but has to keep office hours all week. And that means sending his wife and daughter out on their own.
Wie's final LPGA Tour event of the year is the Samsung World Championship on Oct. 14-17 at Bighorn. Her father said he would fly to the Palm Springs area on Friday night before the tournament, fly back to Hawaii on Monday and then return for the final two rounds on the weekend.
'It will be quite challenging for me,' Wie said. 'I cannot be absent during the semester, so I'll be flying more.'
He takes care of all the travel arrangements, and that includes driving the rental car. Now, those duties fall to his wife, Bo, who drives sparingly at home and never on the road.
'Bo can drive, but Michelle doesn't trust Bo outside Honolulu,' Wie said with a laugh. 'We found a host family near the golf course (at Bighorn), so they can take a golf cart to the tournament.'
Wie dispelled rumors that a relationship with Nike Golf is imminent just because swing coach Gary Gilchrist left the David Leadbetter Academy in Florida to join International Junior Golf Academy at Hilton Head, S.C., where Nike is a business partner.
Gilchrist started working with Wie in May 2002, but Leadbetter became her exclusive teacher in November. Her father said Gilchrist continued to go to Wie's tournaments because Leadbetter was busy with other clients on the PGA Tour, such as Charles Howell III and Ernie Els.
'Last year in November, Gary brought Michelle to ChampionsGate (in Orlando, Fla.) and handed it over to David,' Wie said. 'Since that time, David is 100 percent in charge in terms of her golf swing. Gary was the assistant. It was a like a football team, head coach and assistant coach.
'But since Gary left the Academy, that two-tier system doesn't exist anymore.'
Fred Funk is feeling battered and bruised these days, in part from a rib injury that knocked him out of the Buick Open, in part from criticism of his decision to skip the British Open so he could try to earn Ryder Cup points at the B.C. Open.
'It wasn't unfair criticism,' Funk said. 'I expected to get it for skipping the British when you're exempt for it, and double whammy when I played an event opposite the British. That was like a double slap.'
But he makes no apologies. Funk is 48, and he realizes this is his last chance to play in the Ryder Cup.
What bothers him is the perception that he doesn't belong on the team.
Funk tied for second in Milwaukee -- a week after he tied for 40th in the B.C. Open -- to earn 85 points and move up to eighth place in the Ryder Cup standings.
Milwaukee had a relatively weak field, although Funk also earned points this year with top 10s at The Players Championship, MCI Heritage and the U.S. Open. A year ago, his nine top 10s included a tie for second in Phoenix, a tie for third at the Nissan Open, a tie for seventh at the PGA Championship, and a tie for ninth in the Tour Championship.
'Anyone who makes the team, you can't say they don't deserve to be on it,' he said.
John Daly's endorsements don't always go hand-in-hand.
On the lapel of his shirt is a logo for Trim Spa. On the sleeve of his shirt is his latest endorsement -- Dunkin' Donuts. The divergent sponsorship was not lost on Daly.
'That's like having Miller Lite and AA,' he said with a laugh.
The Toledo Mud Hens will see another golfer on the mound. Dottie Pepper will throw out the first pitch Friday night while at the Jamie Farr Classic on the LPGA Tour. Last year, Phil Mickelson tried out for the Mud Hens with hopes of pitching in a Triple-A game. ... Adam Scott will have to skip the Australian Open to play in the Skins Games, the second straight year he has missed his national Open. 'I need to increase my profile, and the Skins is an ideal vehicle,' Scott told the Australian Associated Press. ... Davis Love III is making plans to play in the Father-Son Challenge with his son, Dru, who will be 11 in December.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Tiger Woods has failed to win seven out of the last eight times he has shot all four rounds in the 60s.
'Other than my family, making that team is pretty much the most important thing in my life.' -- Jerry Kelly, on his bid to earn a spot on the Ryder Cup team.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Woods: New putter should help on slower greens
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods’ ice-cold putting showed at least a few signs of heating up earlier this month at The National, where he switched putters and ranked seventh in the field on the greens.
The mallet-style putter is still in the bag as Woods prepares for The Open, and he’s hoping the heavier model with grooves will prove valuable at Carnoustie.
“To be honest with you, I’ve struggled on slower greens throughout my entire career,” Woods said Tuesday. “So for me, it’s going to help on these greens, for sure.”
To combat the slower greens, Woods usually applied a strip of lead tape to his putter. But this heavier model of putter doesn’t need the extra weight, and the grooves on the putter face allow the ball to get rolling faster and hotter.
“You don’t necessarily have to do that with the grooves,” he said of the lead tape. “When I putted with the Nike putter, I didn’t have to put lead tape on the putter to get a little more weight to it. I could just leave it just the way it was. This is the same type.”
For all of the talk about his putting woes this season, Woods still ranks 56th in strokes gained: putting. More crucial this week: He’s 102nd in approach putt performance, which quantifies how well a player lag putts.
Woods: Open best chance for long-term major success
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods is more than a decade removed from his last major title, but he said Tuesday that The Open is the major that gives him the best chance for long-term success.
“I would say yes, because of the fact that you don’t have to be long to play on a links-style golf course,” Woods said during his pre-tournament news conference. “It certainly can be done.”
Woods pointed to the late-career success for both Greg Norman (2008) and Tom Watson (2009), both of whom challenged for the claret jug deep into their 50s.
“Distance becomes a moot point on a links-style golf course,” he said.
That’s certainly not the case, however, at the Masters, where bombers long have thrived, or the U.S. Open, which places a premium on long and straight driving.
“You get to places like Augusta National, which is just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately,” he said. “But links-style courses, you can roll the ball. I hit a 3-iron that went down there 330. Even if I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.”
"Vantage Point with Mike Tirico" set to debut Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel
Special Hour Complementing the Network’s Week-Long Golf Central Live From The Open News Coverage; Premiere Scheduled to Include Interview with 2014 Open Runner-Up Rickie Fowler On-Site from Carnoustie
Features Include Tirico and Curtis Strange Re-watching ’99 Open at Carnoustie & Jim “Bones” Mackay Facilitating Exclusive Conversation with Caddies Michael Greller, John Wood Recounting Final Round Pairing at 2017 Open
To help set the table ahead of The 147TH Open at Carnoustie, Golf Channel will premiere Vantage Point with Mike Tirico on Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET. An extension of the network’s week-long Golf Central Live From The Open comprehensive news coverage, Vantage Point will revisit landmark moments in The Open’s history, uncover personal stories relevant to the fabric of the week and feature a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year” on golf’s original championship.
“It’s a thrill to be going back to The Open again this year, which is a fitting setting to launch this new opportunity,” said Tirico, NBC Sports host who this week will celebrate his 22nd consecutive year covering The Open. “I love being a part of the Golf Channel team during golf’s biggest weeks, and anticipate contributing to our commitment to great storytelling with Vantage Point.”
Kicking off the premiere of Vantage Point will be Tirico’s exclusive interview with 2014 Open runner-up and 2015 PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler on-site from Carnoustie. One of Fowler’s favorite events, he has missed just one cut in eight previous appearances at The Open. Other highlights within the show include:
- Jim “Bones” Mackay facilitating an exclusive conversation between caddies Michael Greller (Jordan Spieth) and John Wood (Matt Kuchar) recounting the final round pairing at The Open last July.
- Tirico hosting a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year”: David Duval, Tom Lehman and Justin Leonard.
- A recollection of one of the most unforgettable collapses in major championship golf, when Jean van de Velde surrendered a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole in 1999 at The Open. Tirico and Curtis Strange – both on the live tournament broadcast that year for ABC/ESPN – recently re-watched the telecast together for the first time since calling it live.
“This is harder to watch than I thought it was going to be. I’ve never seen anything like
that in my life. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that again.” – Curtis Strange
“I think I got caught up in the whole deal and felt human for the guy.” – Mike Tirico
Vantage Point with Mike Tirico will complement the network’s Golf Central Live From The Open, which will feature nearly 60 hours of comprehensive news coverage from Carnoustie. In total, NBC Sports will dedicate more than 350 hours to showcasing the third men’s major championship of the year, including nearly 50 live hours of the network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage – annually the most live hours of coverage from any golf event – spanning from Thursday’s opening tee shot to Sunday’s final putt.
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.
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