Numerous sand traps haunt players at Whistling Straits

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2010, 12:17 am

2010 PGA Championship

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – The muted green sign among the native grasses invites golfers into Whistling Straits. Just ahead the raised bunkers that dot the hill to the clubhouse look less hospitable.

While the most prominent feature that’ll be displayed this week at the 2010 PGA Championship will be the wind-swept views with Lake Michigan glistening in the background, all the sand will likely torment the pros.

“As soon as you drive through the gates, there’s bunkers there staring you in the face. So, I don’t see a golf course anywhere near there,” Hunter Mahan said. “They’re everywhere, really. I mean, I feel bad for the fans because it seems like you could be walking and all of sudden you’re falling in a hole of sand and don’t even know it.”

The number of bunkers at architect Pete Dye’s 1998 creation isn’t known. A recent Golf Digest article concluded there were 967.

“There’s so many of them. In a four-day tournament, you’re bound to be in some,” Zach Johnson said.

Course maintenance manager Michael Lee says the number of bunkers isn’t a secret.

So how many are there?

“It’s truly a fluid number because the property is so vast. What is along the lake? What is on the golf course? What’s on the (neighboring) Irish Course? Are the entry road bunkers part of the Straits course? Probably not. So, do you count those?” Lee said.

Nature also plays a role in reshaping the course every winter when the snow comes and goes.

“The winds blow here and it just blows the snow and sand right off the golf course,” Lee said. “You have bunkers that are created and some that are lost.”

In truth, there are less than 100 sand traps in play when the pros tee it up, but it’s no easy business getting it ready. Every day, Lee’s crew of 32 hand rakes every bunker inside the ropes for more than two hours beginning at 5 a.m.

“It’s a work in progress, you’re never finished taking care of a golf course,” Lee said. “It’s a matter of setting priorities. For resort play, we hand rake all the ones in play: those are the ones along the fairway, the greenside ones every day. Today, you’ll see a little bit wider version of that, everything inside the ropes.”

There’s so much sand, players start to admire the traps. One bunker getting the most attention is at the sixth, where a giant 6-foot trap cuts through the green, dividing it.

Phil Mickelson said he likes the hole layout that will punish a wayward wedge shot.

“It’s a really cool bunker and a really cool hole,” Mickelson said. “It is a huge penalty if you mishit your wedge and go in that bunker.”

Lee, who has been part of the golf course since its inception, said Dye’s vision has made the course firm, but fair and contends pros who finds themselves in the deep bunker should be able to play out.

“It is very difficult for any human being to visually sort out the sand here that comes into play. I think as the players go through the week, they will get accustomed to looking at all that sand and really get to know the Straits better and be able to tune some of that out,” Lee said.

For the moment, players are still trying to wrap their minds around just how many traps dot the course.

“There are some very small bunkers out there. To get a 1,000 of them out there, you have to have some pretty small ones,” Justin Rose said. “You just have to accept sometimes that when we’re in a bunker, we expect to get it up and down. That might not be the case this week.”

And being off line could mean a long day.

“If you get out of position on this golf course,” Graeme McDowell said. “You’re in a world of pain, no doubt about it.”

And trying to count all the sand traps proves pointless – even on a fact sheet handed out by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. It lists the details of the types of grass, water sources, green sizes and soil mix.

As for bunkers? “Numerous.”

A giant understatement.

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Ahead by four, No. 1 ranking within Koepka's grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One behind overnight leader Scott Piercy to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under. Cabrera Bello will round out the final tee time with Koepka and Poulter.

Best of the rest: Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama and Emiliano Grillo signed for 66. Casey went seven straight holes without a par, Matusyama was bogey-free, and Grillo did all his damage on the back nine after nine consecutive pars on the front.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.

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Watch: Koepka flies ball 330 yards, drives green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 4:44 am

It's a good thing par doesn't actually matter in tournament play, because if it did, the PGA Tour would have to consider 350-yard par-3s, and even those might not stop Brooks Koeopka.

Already ahead by two during Saturday's third round at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka drove the green at the par-4 14th, carrying his ball 330 yards to the front edge.

The back-to-back U.S. Open champ would go on to two-putt for birdie and push his lead to three.

... The USGA is going to try that 350-yard par-3 idea, isn't it?

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Bend it like Garcia? Sergio scores in player-caddie soccer match

By Grill Room TeamOctober 20, 2018, 2:44 am

Sergio Garcia has always been able to work his golf ball from left to right, but he's also - apparently - proficient at playing a draw with a soccer ball.

This year's Adalucia Valderrama Masters is suffering through some weather issues. But the highlight of the week - and, according to the Felipe Aguilar, "the year" - was always going to be the event's player-caddie soccer match, which you can see here:

The standout highlight? This bending, left-footed(!) strike from defending champion Sergio Garcia:

"Just a little bit of fun with the caddies and some of the players," Garcia nonchalantly says in the video. "Yeah, just a little bit of running and it was good fun."

Garcia, a diehard Real Madrid fan who kicked off El Clasico in his green jacket back in 2016, has previously appeared in professional matches for CF Borriol, a Tercera Division club in Spain. 

"It's good fun and whenever I'm around I get to practice with them a little bit and play a little bit here and there. This season, I've played probably five games, so not a lot, but I enjoy it," Garcia told CNN back in 2013.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.