USGA pleased with Chambers Bay after US Amateur

By Associated PressAugust 31, 2010, 4:08 pm
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Until Chambers Bay morphed from an everyday public course into championship conditions, Mike Davis didn’t know what to expect.

Davis, the U.S. Golf Association’s director of rules and competition and responsible for developing the setup used at the U.S. Open, had some preconceived ideas of how Chambers Bay would play during the U.S. Amateur that ended on Sunday.

And after a week of watching the best amateur golfers in the world try and solve the hard fairways and sloping greens of the links course, Davis came away excited for what awaits five years from now when Chambers Bay hosts the U.S. Open.

“It’s very fun to set it up,” Davis said.

Fun seemed to be the overwhelming word players and officials used to describe the way Chambers Bay played during the Amateur, won by Oklahoma State’s Peter Uihlein. Shot making was at a premium, as was imagination, taking away the idea of shooting right at pins or playing the hole exactly as it appeared.

Uihlein had a perfect example in Sunday’s final against David Chung. Knowing his downhill putt on the drivable par 4 12th hole had no chance of stopping near the hold, Uihlein rolled his putt past the hole, up a slope and watched it inch back toward the cup, settling just a couple of feet away.

“You can’t really get close to the flags by hitting them at the flag. You’ve got to use the slopes and be creative,” Uihlein said. “You’ve got to hit every shot with a certain spin and height. You’ve really got to control your ball.”

Chambers Bay was awarded the Amateur and the 2015 Open within a year of the course first opening. It’s unique fescue grass, large footprint and setting on the shores of Puget Sound was the setting the USGA had been hoping to find to finally bring it’s national championship to the Pacific Northwest for the first time.

That meant the Amateur was a dress rehearsal for five years from now. The discoveries last week were plentiful.

For example, Davis learned that even with hard, brown fairways and greens, the grass at Chambers still needed sufficient water. During the stroke play portion of the Amateur, the firmness of the golf course got out of hand, Davis said.

The discovery: because of its sandy base, the golf course needed adequate water six, 12, 18 inches below the surface to maintain a level of fairness for players.

“There were some things that we did anticipate we thought might work really well. We had some questions about some things and there were some things that being very candid, we never had an idea, nor did the architects or any of the Chambers Bay people,” Davis said.

Davis said there will be plenty of adjustments to the golf course by the time it’s next in tournament conditions five years from now. Some fairways will be narrowed, others will be widened, and even others will be moved one direction or another. One major benefit for the USGA staff was seeing various weather conditions during the week and seeing winds blowing from three different directions.

Outside the ropes, there are issues with spectator transportation, crowd flow and fans climbing on the steep and slippery dunes around the course to be addressed.

“I think we’ll spend the next few years trying to get that right because this was a dry run,” said the USGA’s Tom O’Toole. “That’s why we came here. … A lot of notes this week (and) it will really help us in preparation for ’15.”

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HOFer Stephenson: Robbie wants to play me in movie

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 4:20 pm

Margot Robbie has already starred in one sports-related biopic, and if she gets her way a second opportunity might not be far behind.

Robbie earned an Academy Award nomination for her work last year as former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding in the movie, I Tonya. She also has a desire to assume the role of her fellow Aussie, Jan Stephenson, in a movie where she would trade in her skates for a set of golf clubs.

That's at least according to Stephenson, who floated out the idea during an interview with Golf Australia's Inside the Ropes podcast shortly after being announced as part of the next class of World Golf Hall of Fame inductees.

"We've talked about doing a movie. Margot Robbie wants to play me," Stephenson said.

There certainly would be a resemblance between the two Australian blondes, as Robbie has become one of Hollywood's leading ladies while Stephenson was on the cutting edge of sex appeal during her playing career. In addition to several magazine covers, Stephenson also racked up 16 LPGA wins between 1976-87 including three majors.

Robbie, 28, has also had starring roles in Suicide Squad and The Wolf of Wall Street.

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Azinger: 'Can't see anybody beating Tiger' at his best

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:44 pm

There's a new world No. 1, and a fresh crop of young guns eager to make their mark on the PGA Tour in 2019. But according to Paul Azinger, the player with the highest ceiling is still the same as it was when he was walking inside the ropes.

Azinger was named Monday as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports, and on "Morning Drive" he was asked which player is the best when all are playing their best. The former PGA champion pondered new world No. 1 Brooks Koepka and former No. 1 Dustin Johnson, but he came back around to a familiar answer: Tiger Woods.

"I just can't see anybody beating Tiger when Tiger's at his best. I just can't see it," Azinger said. "He's not his best yet, but he's almost his best. And when Tiger's his best, there's more that comes with Tiger than just the score he shoots. That crowd comes with Tiger, and it's a whole 'nother dynamic when Tiger's at his best. And I'm just going to have to say that when Tiger's at his best, he's still the best."

Woods, 42, started this year ranked No. 656 in the world but had a resurgent season that included a pair of near-misses at The Open and PGA Championship and culminated with his win at the Tour Championship that ended a five-year victory drought. For Azinger, the question now becomes how he can follow up a breakthrough campaign as he looks to contend consistently against players from a younger generation.

"That's why we watch, to see if he can maintain that. To see what he's capable of," Azinger said. "Now longevity becomes the issue for Tiger Woods. In seven or eight years, he's going to be 50 years old. That goes fast. I'm telling you, that goes really fast."

When Woods returns to action, he'll do so with a focus on the upcoming Masters as he looks to capture the 15th major title that has eluded him for more than a decade. With bombers like Koepka and Johnson currently reigning on the PGA Tour, Azinger believes the key for Woods will be remaining accurate while relying on the world-class iron play that has been a strength throughout his career.

"I think he's going to have to recognize that he's not the beast out there when it comes to smacking that ball off the tee. But I'd like to see him try to hit a couple more fairways periodically. That'd be nice," he said. "If he can drive that ball in the fairway, with that putter, we've seen what his putter is capable of. The sky's the limit, boys."

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Spieth drops out of top 10 for first time since 2014

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:08 pm

As Brooks Koepka ascended to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking, a former No. 1 continued a notable decline.

Jordan Spieth didn't play last week's CJ Cup, where Koepka won by four shots. But Jason Day did, and his T-5 finish in South Korea moved him up two spots from No. 12 to No. 10 in the latest rankings. Spieth dropped from 10th to 11th, marking the first time that he has been outside the top 10 in the world rankings since November 2014.

Since that time, he has won 12 times around the world, including three majors, while spending 26 weeks as world No. 1. But he hasn't won a tournament since The Open last July, and this year he missed the Tour Championship for the first time in his career. Spieth is expected to make his season debut next week in Las Vegas at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


Koepka and Day were the only movers among the top 10 on a week that saw many top players remain in place. Sergio Garcia's rain-delayed win at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters moved him up four spots to No. 27, while Gary Woodland went from 38th to 30th after finishing second behind Koepka on Jeju Island.

Koepka will tee off as world No. 1 for the first time this week at the WGC-HSBC Champions, where new No. 2 Dustin Johnson will look to regain the top spot. Justin Rose is now third in the world, with Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Day rounding out the top 10.

With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods remained 13th in the world for the fifth straight week.

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Pavin's season nearly ends after slow-play penalty

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 1:50 pm

Corey Pavin's season on the PGA Tour Champions nearly came to an end because of a slow-play penalty.

Penalties for pace are often discussed or threatened, but rarely doled out on either the PGA Tour or the over-50 circuit. But that changed Sunday during the final round of the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, where Pavin was told by a rules official after completing his round that he would receive a 1-stroke penalty for slow play.

The penalty was on the surface rather harmless, turning an even-par 72 into a 1-over 73 and dropping Pavin into a tie for 15th. But this was the first event of a three-tournament postseason for PGA Tour Champions players, and only the top 54 in points advanced to this week's Invesco QQQ Championship.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Pavin, who has two top-10 finishes in 20 starts this season, barely held on at 53rd place after the penalty was enforced.

Slow-play discussions came up earlier this season surrounding Bernhard Langer at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, but Golf Channel analyst Lanny Wadkins expressed his surprise on the telecast that it was Pavin who got a shot added to his score.

"Of all the things to happen with all the times I have played - I can't even count the number of rounds - I never thought Corey Pavin was a slow player," Wadkins said. "All the guys we know are slow players have never been penalized out here. Where has this been for the last 15 years?"

The subject of the penalty also raised an eyebrow from Stephen Ames, who finished alongside Pavin in 15th place while Langer finished second behind Woody Austin: