Pinehurst No 2 Was Hard Test With Few Complaints

By Associated PressJune 21, 2005, 4:00 pm
Tom Meeks was only half-joking when he suggested the ideal ending for his 10 years setting up the U.S. Open would be for the players to gather around for a big group hug.
He got the next best thing - silence.
No one beat par at the U.S. Open for the first time in seven years. Even more surprising was that complaints were about as rare as birdies on Pinehurst No. 2.
Jerry Kelly gave Meeks a thumbs-up after finishing last at 25 over par. Rocco Mediate saw the USGA's senior director of rules and competition standing beyond the 16th green in the third round, walked over to congratulate him on a challenging test, then three-putted for bogey.
And yet, there seemed to be enough evidence the golf course was out of control.
The final pairing Sunday - two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen and feel-good story Jason Gore - played the final round in 25 over par with only one birdie between them. Goosen simply chalked it up to a bad day at the office. Gore wasn't sure what happened, but he sure did have a good time.
'Going from here to anywhere is going to be easy,' Stewart Cink said after a 69, one of only four scores under par in the final round. 'Somebody is going to light it up next week because they're so happy to be out of Pinehurst.'
Maybe so.
But most of them can't wait to come back.
'I think the two Opens they've had here have been great,' Davis Love III said. 'It's definitely a patience test, and that's what they want.'
Such universal praise can only mean two things:
- The players realize the USGA is going to punish them over four days, so they might as well get used to it.
- The USGA has found an ideal spot for the toughest test in golf along the sandhills of North Carolina.
Pinehurst has a way of examining every facet of the game.
The fairways were so firm that tee shots not only had to find the short grass, they had to land at the proper angle to avoid running into the rough. The turtleback greens, which Donald Ross designed and Rees Jones took a little over the top, demanded so much precision that anything missing its mark by as little as 3 feet to the wrong side of the hole often rolled off the green.
Don't have a short game? Don't expect to survive Pinehurst. Players used clubs ranging from fairway metals to long irons to wedges to putters. Imagination was the 15th club in the bag.
'Think about it,' Tiger Woods said after finishing two shots behind Michael Campbell. 'There's really no rough around the greens. I enjoy the opportunity of not having to pull a lob wedge every time I miss a green at the U.S. Open. That's kind of fun. We get to play shots. We're able to have no rough around the greens, and even par is the winning score.'
Meeks and Mike Davis, his successor as senior director of rules and competition, deserve some credit, along with the rest of the staff in khaki pants and starched white shirts.
USGA president Fred Ridley and vice president Walter Driver, who served as chairman of the competition committee, were out early Saturday morning checking out the course conditions and hole locations, making sure it was a stout test without becoming a silly one.
They are helped with a couple of new toys.
One has tentatively been called the 'Thumper.' It measures the firmness of the turf to see how a ball bounces off the fairway and lands on the green. The idea is to make conditions uniform.
'The USGA and everyone should be happy about the play for four straight days,' two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen said, calling the conditions as consistent 'as I've seen them play in any U.S. Open I've played.' (And speaking of consistency, he shot 74 all four rounds).
The other gadget is called the 'Smart Tool,' and it looks like a level used by construction workers. Meeks brought that with him while deciding on Sunday hole locations. It measures the grade of the slope at perpendicular directions, and the idea for greens running at 11.6 on the Stimpmeter is keep the combined slope at a 5 percent grade.
That would have been nice to have in 1998 at Olympic Club, when Payne Stewart's 8-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole of the second round turned away from the cup and didn't stop rolling until it was 25 feet below the hole. Asked what the measurement would have been there, Meeks smiled and said, 'Probably 99 percent.'
Ridley circled every green, showing where not to miss. And he was quick to point out that while several holes were on the edge of the putting surface to invite disaster, every player had the option of hitting into a flat spot away from the hole to give them a chance at birdie - not a short putt, but a safe one.
The USGA waited only six years to return to Pinehurst, the quickest turnaround for a U.S. Open in nearly 60 years. It will have to wait at least eight more years this time - 2013 is the next opening.
'Going back over the last 10 U.S. Opens that I've played, I think it's probably the best,' Cink said. 'You have to execute your shots. You have to plan your shots well. To me, it's the ultimate place for a U.S. Open.
'And I hope they don't come back too often,' he added, 'because I haven't played it too well.'
That's as close to a complaint the USGA heard all week.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Levy wins Trophee Hassan for fifth European Tour title

By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 6:32 pm

RABAT, Morocco - Alexander Levy finished with a 2-under 70 Sunday to win the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco by a shot from overnight leader Alvaro Quiros.

One off the lead overnight, Levy made two of his four birdies in his first five holes to hit the front and stayed ahead for the rest of the final day at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course.

It was the 27-year-old Frenchman's fifth European Tour victory and he will take winning form to Beijing next week when he defends his China Open title.

Levy ended 8-under 280 overall, one ahead of Spain's Quiros, who closed with a second straight 72.

Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II

With his chasers pushing hard, Levy kept his cool after dropping a shot on No. 16. He birdied the short, par-3 No. 17 and made par at the last.

Quiros birdied his last two holes to make sure of second place outright. He needed an eagle on No. 18 to force a playoff.

A group of four players finished in a tie for third, including Italy's Andrea Pavan, who finished with a brilliant 6-under 66. Swedish pair Joakim Lagergren (70) and Alexander Bjork (70) and Finland's Mikko Ilonen (72) also shared third.

Levy had three other top 10 finishes in his five previous events this season and moved up to ninth on the European Tour's Race to Dubai points list.

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(Not that) Jutanugarn shares lead with (not that) Ko

By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 1:58 am

LOS ANGELES - A player eager for her first win and a rookie top the leaderboard at the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open. Lurking two shots back is a Hall of Famer.

Winless Moriya Jutanugarn overcame a poor start and birdied the 18th for a hard-earned 1-under 70 to tie rookie Jin Young Ko at 9 under on Saturday at Wilshire Country Club.

Ko shot a 66 in her bid to become the year's first two-time LPGA winner. She won the Women's Australian Open in February, her first victory as an official tour member after a successful run on the Korean LPGA circuit.

''I'm ready for win or top 10, so maybe tomorrow I will really focus on shot by shot,'' said Ko, who added an exclamation point to her golf bag for each of her wins on the KLPGA. ''I won 11 times, so if I win tomorrow, maybe I change to 12. I need more, I need every time motivation.''

Jutanugarn is trying to match younger sister Ariya as a tour champion. Seven-time winner Ariya was tied for 27th after a 72 in the third round.

Usually when one of the Thai sisters is in the lead, the other will watch when her round is finished.

''If she's not too lazy, she is probably going to come out,'' Moriya said about Ariya.

Playing in an all-Korean threesome, Hall of Famer Inbee Park was two shots back in third after a 69. Her birdie putt for a share of the lead on 18 slid just by the hole. The group drew a large contingent of Korean fans.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

''I kind of started off a little bad. I was able to come back strong, so I'm really happy with that,'' Park said. ''I left a few putts out there. The greens around this golf course are just really tough. You just don't know what's going to happen.''

Moriya Jutanugarn's round included a double bogey on the par-4 first hole and a bogey on the par-4 sixth. She eagled the par-4 14th after holing out from the fairway 93 feet away. The ball took once bounce and went in, eliciting a stunned look from Jutanugarn before she high-fived her caddie.

''Today was kind of a pretty rough day for me with not a very good start and like trying to come back,'' Jutanugarn said. ''I just try to play my game and be patient out there I think is the key.''

Jutanugarn, the second-round leader, read the break perfectly on a long putt to make birdie on 18 and share the lead with Ko.

Playing two groups ahead of Jutanugarn, Caroline Inglis also eagled the 14th from 180 yards. She briefly jumped up and down and smiled after three bogeys and a double bogey. She shot a 69 and was four shots back in a tie for sixth with Minjee Lee.

''It was like one bounce and then it like trickled in,'' Inglis said.

Aditi Ashok eagled 14 early in the round.

Ko did some scrambling of her own. Her ball found a sandy hazard on the 17th with a scoreboard and a winding creek in between her and the green 190 yards away. Her approach landed just off the green and she made par. Her round included six birdies and a bogey on 16.

Eun-Hee Ji (70) and American Marina Alex (72) were tied for fourth at 6 under.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng shot a 70 and was in a six-way tie for 12th at 2 under.

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Defending champs Singh, Franco take senior lead

By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 12:15 am

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco took the third-round lead Saturday in the windy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Singh and Franco shot a 7-under 47 in wind gusting to 20 mph on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to get to 19-under 145, a stroke ahead of the teams of David Toms-Steve Flesch and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett.

''It was a tough day,'' Singh said. ''The wind was swirling, have to get the club right and we made some putts. Carlos played really well on the back nine and I played really well on the front nine, so we ham-and-egged it a little.''

Toms and Flesch also shot 47, and Broadhurst and Triplett had a 33 on the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course.

''We just paired well together,'' Toms said. ''I don't think either one of us played great. We picked each other up out there.''

Wind and rain is expected Sunday when the teams finish at Top of the Rock, again playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

''Make as many birdies as possible and see what happens,'' Singh said. ''That's all we can do.''

Singh and Franco are trying to become the first to successfully defend a title since Jim Colbert and Andy North in 2001. Singh won the Toshiba Classic in March for his first individual senior title.

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

Flesch won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic last week in Georgia for his first senior victory.

Tom Lehman and Bernhard Langer had a 34 at Mountain Top to join Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal at 17 under. Jimenez and Olazabal had a 33 at Mountain Top.

''It's great for me to be able to play with him as a team member,'' Olazabal said. ''We do have great memories from the Ryder Cup and other events, and it's always a great pleasure to play with a great player and a friend.''

Langer took the final-round forecast in stride.

''We've done it hundreds of times before and we'll probably do it again,'' Langer said. ''We'll make the best of it. We both have a good attitude. We're known to play in all sorts of weather and I just look forward to playing one more day with my partner here.''

Wisconsin neighbors Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly were 16 under after a 48 at Top of the Rock.

John Daly and Michael Allen, the second-round leaders after a 46 at Top of the Rock, had a 37 at Mountain Top to drop into a tie for seventh at 15 under.

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Landry shares Valero lead, eyes first career win

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 11:15 pm

After coming up just short of a breakthrough win earlier this season, Andrew Landry has another chance to earn his maiden victory at the Valero Texas Open.

Landry came within inches of winning the CareerBuilder Challenge in January, ultimately losing to Jon Rahm in a four-hole playoff. He struggled to find form in the wake of his close call, missing the cut in each of his four starts following his runner-up finish in Palm Springs.

But Landry took some time off to welcome his first child, Brooks, last month and he made it to the weekend in his first start back last week at the RBC Heritage, where he finished T-42. He made a move up the standings Saturday at TPC San Antonio with a bogey-free 67, and at 13 under shares the lead with Zach Johnson heading into the final round.

"I just did everything really good," Landry told reporters. "I was staying patient and just trying to make a bunch of pars. This golf course can come up and bite you in a heartbeat, and I had a couple bad putts that I didn't really make. I'm happy with it, it's a good 5-under round. Gets me in the final group tomorrow and we'll see what happens."

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Landry started the day one shot off the pace and in the final group with Johnson and Ryan Moore, and at one point he took sole possession of the lead after birdies on three of his first six holes. Now he'll have another chance in the day's final tee time where he's grouped with Johnson and Trey Mullinax, who sits one shot back after firing a course-record 62 in the third round.

For Landry, it's another opportunity to break into the winner's circle, and it's one for which he feels prepared after coming so close three months ago.

"I mean, I don't want to go too deep into it because I don't want to sound cocky or anything, but I just believe in myself. There's no other explanation for it," Landry said. "You can totally get out here and play with Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore, two top players in the world, and you can go out there and fold under pressure or you can learn a lot.

"Zach's always been a role model to me the way he plays golf, I feel like we have very similar games, and it's just going to be fun tomorrow getting to play with him again."