TPC at Avenel to Get Overhaul

By Associated PressJune 23, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Booz Allen ClassicPOTOMAC, Md. -- The first year the PGA Tour played at the TPC at Avenel, Greg Norman suggested setting dynamite to the ninth hole. A few years later, Nick Price advocated the same for No. 13, calling it a 'goofy hole' that was unfair.
 
They might finally get their wish.
 
After years of such complaints, organizers of the Booz Allen Classic - the new name for the tournament long known as the Kemper Open - are planning an overhaul to draw more marquee players.
 
'I don't know why a lot of guys don't like the place,' said Frank Lickliter II, whose victory at the event in 2001 gives him an obvious bias. 'I like the golf course the way it is. There's a lot of tradition here. And now to come in and add 800 yards to it doesn't make sense to me.'
 
The changes may not be that radical, but a one-year move to prestigious Congressional Country Club in nearby Bethesda next year gives officials time to give the course a shakedown. Players are being asked this week what they would like changed, although the ones who have decided to play naturally are more inclined to like it the way it is.
 
'I would just tweak it here and there,' said Fred Funk, a local favorite and former golf coach at the University of Maryland. 'It's not a rerouting deal.'
 
The course changes are part of a two-prong strategy by the tournament's new sponsor to draw bigger names to the PGA Tour's only stop in the Washington area. The other way to raise the profile, they say, would be to get a more consistent spot on the tour's calendar.
 
The tournament is typically held one to two weeks before the U.S. Open, seemingly a prime spot for players wanting to tune up for the second major of the year. But it also usually comes after the popular Memorial and Colonial tournaments, which makes it a tempting rest week.
 
This year is even worse. For the first time in its 25-year history in the Washington area, the tournament is being held the week after the Open. It seems everyone needs a rest after the grueling test at Shinnecock Hills, leaving just Adam Scott and Jonathan Kaye as the only golfers among the world's top 30 who will be teeing off Thursday.
 
'After they've been beat up like they were last week, the last thing they want to do is look at a golf course,' Lickliter said.
 
The tournament attracted bigger names when it was played at Congressional from 1980-86. It moved to Avenel 1987, and nearly everyone agrees in hindsight the course simply wasn't ready for professional golf that first year. The instant bad rap hurt the event for years, even though improvements were made.
 
'They rounded the edges to make it better,' said Scott Hoch, who has played this event every year but one since the move to Avenel. 'The greens were too hard and fast. You really couldn't hit shots to them.'
 
Hoch and Funk aren't big fans of the par-3 ninth, in which the tee shot is the rough equivalent of hitting a ball off a cliff, but neither is sure how it could be fixed. The 301-yard No. 14 has been criticized as being too short for a par 4, yet Funk and Rich Beem called it one of the great short holes on the entire tour.
 
Of course, Beem will always play this tournament, no matter what. His first win came in 1999 at Avenel, and he was quick to give advice to anyone thinking of changing it.
 
'Don't do it,' he said.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Booz Allen Classic
     
    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

    Getty Images

    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


    Updated Official World Golf Ranking


    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

    Getty Images

    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

    Getty Images

    Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

    Hoylake in 2006.

    That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

    So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

    With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

    “The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”