Shoal Creek set for golf major comeback

By Associated PressMay 5, 2011, 1:51 am

Champions TourBIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Picturesque Shoal Creek is finally hosting another major golf tournament.

And many of the familiar faces are back for the Champions Tour’s Regions Tradition, from Fred Couples to Hale Irwin, Nick Price to Tom Watson.

The site of two PGA Championships, Shoal Creek rejoined the pro circuit Thursday with the start of the first of the five Champions Tour majors.

“It feels like a major venue,” said Kenny Perry, who teamed with Scott Hoch to finish second two weeks ago in the Legends of Golf. “It feels like par is a good score this week. Majors on the regular tour, par is the number you’re after. If you can make a couple of birdies, you try to make them, just hang in there with them, hold on to them and not let them go. I think this week’s going to be a similar kind of situation.”

Perhaps it will be a little calmer situation than the last time some of these guys visited, the 1990 PGA Championship.

Before that tournament started, controversy erupted over its all-white membership – and the founder’s comments that the club wouldn’t be pressured into accepting blacks.

For the players and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, the past issues seem to be buried about as deep as the Bermuda rough that plagued participants in the 1984 and 1990 PGA Championships.

Finchem called the 7,234-yard, par-72 course, which is nestled between the lush Oak and Double Oak mountains, “by all estimates a significant, supreme test” and “famous around the world.”

But outside of golf circles, at least, it became known in 1990 for founder Hall Thompson’s remarks on black members just before the PGA Championship. Thompson, who later apologized, died in October.

The 600-member club now has a handful of black members, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a Birmingham native and honorary chair of the tournament.

“We certainly have no hesitation of playing here and haven’t had for a number of years,” Finchem said. “Actually, the last five or 10 years we’ve had a couple of, I would call them robust conversations with the club here about possibly playing. For whatever reason, those conversations didn’t materialize, but they could have. I mean, we had no reservation about playing.”

The rancor prompted major golf organizations to adopt membership policies for tournament sites.

Several major sponsors – including Anheuser-Busch, Toyota and IBM – yanked TV ads and black organizations threatened to picket outside.

And now?

“We’re extremely comfortable on all fronts,” Finchem said.

Champions Tour player Steve Lowery, who lives in Birmingham, credits Mike Thompson, a Shoal Creek board member and Hall’s son, for helping put that controversy in the past.

“It’s because Mike Thompson was proactive in taking the initiative to do things right, and he’s done them right all the way,” said Lowery, a former Shoal Creek member. “He’s done a great job with all of those issues. They’re in the past. We’re going forward.”

At the time, he said, the experience “was painful, because I knew it wasn’t accurate (about) people as a whole here. It was a little bit unfair.”

The Jack Nicklaus-designed course eased back into the national golf scene by hosting the 2008 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.

Now, it is replacing the city’s Regions Charity Classic across town. The Tradition was held at Sunriver Resort’s Crosswater Golf Club in central Oregon the past four years before the title sponsor pulled out.

“This is a great, great golf course,” said Couples, who tied for 15th at the Masters while fighting persistent back problems. “For the Champions Tour, I believe this is going to be one of the best events.”

The tournament comes a week after a deadly tornado ravaged the Birmingham area. Champions Tour players have donated items and raised nearly $50,000 at an auction, while the tour is giving $100,000.

Some of the players are rekindling somewhat dim memories of the course. Couples is among 16 returning after making the cuts in 1984 and 1990.

Couples said he doesn’t remember any shots from the venue’s last PGA Championship, when he finished second.

“But I remember Lee Trevino making a putt on the last green and kissing his putter,” he said.

Beyond that, the talk was largely about the rough that lived up to its name. That was in August, though, and the Bermuda grass hasn’t grown out so much this time.

“I remember the rough being to where you had to chip it sideways to get it back out on the fairway,” recalls John Cook, who played in the 1984 event and has already won twice on the Champions Tour this year.

Added Price: “It was so deep here and you basically felt like you were walking on a tightrope the whole time playing.”

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Koepka looking to make hay on Horrible Horseshoe

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:26 pm

The Horrible Horseshoe - Nos. 3, 4 and 5 at Colonial Country Club - annually ranks as one of the toughest three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour.

Consider Brooks Koepka undeterred.

Last year's U.S. Open champ has played the stretch 2 over this week but knows that if he's going to have any chance at catching Justin Rose on Sunday, he's going to need take advantage of the par-5 first and then find a way to pick up shots on the Horseshoe.

"I feel like just need to get off to a good start on this golf course," Koepka said after a third-round 67 Saturday. "If you can get 2 or 3 under through six holes, I think you'll be right there."

Koepka will start the final round four behind Rose, as he looks to win for the first time since his maiden major victory last year.


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The big-hitter missed nearly four months this year with a wrist injury and is progressing quickly in his comeback despite dislocating his wrist on two different occasions over the last two months.

Koepka missed the cut with partner Marc Turnesa at the Zurich Classic in his competitive return before following up with a tie for 42nd at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 11th at The Players Championship.

Now, thanks to a closing birdie Sunday, he finds himself playing alongside Rose in the final group on Sunday.

"I feel like my game is coming around," he said. "[At Zurich], I was five days into touching clubs. I am finally finding a rhythm and feel like I'm getting really close. ...

"Just want to get off to a good start [tomorrow]. That's really all I am trying to do. You put together a good solid round tomorrow, you never know what can happen. The important thing is we were just trying to get in that final group. I thought the putt on 18 was kind of big to get in that final group and play with Rosey."

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Rose leads Koepka, Grillo by four at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 9:06 pm

On the strength of a 4-under 66 Saturday, Justin Rose will take a four-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Colonial Country Club.

Leaderboard: Rose (-14), Koepka (-10), Grillo (-10), Corey Conners (-8), Jon Rahm (-8), Louis Oosthuizen (-8), J.T. Poston (-8), Ryan Armour (-8)

What it means: The fifth-ranked player in the world is 18 holes from his ninth PGA Tour victory and his second this season. Up one to start the third round, Rose extended his lead to as much as five with birdies on four of his first six holes. Through 54 holes, Rose has made 17 birdies and just three bogeys. The 2013 U.S. Open winner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has a history of winning at iconic venues - Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional - and now looks to add Colonial to the list. He'll be chased on Sunday by Grillo, the young Argentinian who won his first Tour start as a member in 2015, and Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner who continues to impress in his injury comeback despite ongoing wrist issues.

Round of the day: Corey Conners and Ted Potter both turned in 7-under 63. Potter was bogey-free and Conners came home in 6-under 29 on the back nine.

Best of the rest: Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman and Michael Thompson all signed for 64. Rahm called his six-birdie start the best 10 holes he's played so far this year.

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth has finished second-first-second in the last three years at this event, but he's yet to find his normal Colonial form through three rounds. Spieth, who said Friday he was capable of shooting "10 or 12 under" over the weekend, shot even-par 70 Saturday. He sits in T-38 at 3 under for the week, 11 back.

Shot of the day: Rory Sabbatini closed out his third round Saturday with this eagle holeout from 134 yards at the 18th.

His colorful scorecard featured three bogeys, two birdies, a double bogey and that eagle. It added up to a 1-over 71. 

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McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.

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Watch: Rose one-arms approach, makes birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 7:25 pm

Justin Rose appears to have taken a course in Hideki Matsuyama-ing.

Already 3 under on his round through five thanks to a birdie-birdie-birdie start, Rose played this approach from 143 yards at the par-4 sixth.

That one-armed approach set up a 6-foot birdie putt he rolled in to move to 4 under on his round and 14 under for the week, five clear of the field.