Jones Winners never complain

By Brian HewittAugust 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Robert Allenby got the ball rolling, downhill, Thursday at the PGA Championship when he lashed into the PGA of America and its first round course set-up at Oakland Hills.
 
They have taken an OK course, Allenby hissed, and turned it into a lot of crap.
 
Many players agreed with Allenby. Many longtime observers considered Allenbys remarks heresy due in part to the layouts Donald Ross pedigree and Robert Trent Jones grooming.
 
Meanwhile, Lee Westwood piled on, saying the PGA of America had sucked the life out of the golf tournament.
 
Friday was another day and by the end of a long rounds journey into gathering darkness, nobody had carded a 36-hole total better than 1 under par.
 
We cant please everybody, said Rees Jones, the noted American architect who did the most recent re-design at Oakland Hills. Rees Jones father is Robert Trent Jones, and he had every reason to be offended by the comments of Allenby and Westwood.
 
But Rees Jones also has a sense of humor. In conversation Friday he told a story on himself that he had heard attributed to Paul Goydos. According to Jones, Goydos said he would never allow Rees Jones to work on his lawn because when he went out to get the paper the next morning it would be 20 yards farther away than it was the day before.
 
Back at the controversy, Jones pointed out that 7 over was the winning score in 1951 when Ben Hogan won the U.S. Open at an Oakland Hills course that had been touched up by Robert Trent Jones.
 
With the equipment the players have today, I think this course is easier than it was when Hogan won in 1951, Rees Jones said. This is the way a major championship golf course should be set up.
 
David Toms, who jumped into contention with a Friday 69 that left him two shots off the halfway lead, was decidedly more realistic about the conditions after his Friday round.
 
Toms has the word monster plastered all over his golf bag. Its a reference the word Hogan famously used to describe Oakland Hills after his 1951 triumph.
 
You kind of had to know what you were getting into here, Toms said. Weve been reading about it all year. You have to embrace it.
 
Justin Rose needed just 25 putts on Oakland Hills diabolical greens Friday ' only 11 on his last nine holes. The resultant 67 tied him with Ben Curtis with the low round of the championship so far.
 
I quite like the tough greens, Rose said. I think if your speed is good, sometimes its easier to read the big breaks rather than if its just quite subtle.
 
Just about everybody agrees that theres not a whole lot of subtlety at Oakland Hills. It was the same way last year at Oakmont where Angel Cabrera won the U.S. Open.
 
In fact, more than a few players are saying this years PGA more resembles a U.S. Open than the U.S. Open. Oddly enough, many of those same players were saying the June U.S. Open at Torrey Pines more resembled a Masters than the Masters because of all the risk reward opportunities.
 
You almost feel like youre being tested on every shot that you hit, Rose said of Oakland Hills. Theres no let-up.
 
Funnily enough, Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones and Rees Jones, would all probably take that as a compliment.
 
Jack Nicklaus used to say he loved hearing players whining about conditions at major championships. He said he knew he didnt have to worry about the whiners. The list of players Nicklaus, in his prime, did have to worry about at majors, by the way, was short enough.
 
So we have arrived at the mid-point of the years final major championship. The opinion here is that Toms has it right. The player who will hoist the Wanamaker Trophy late Sunday afternoon will be the one who embraces this latest edition of Oakland Hills.
 
And, Rees Jones said, The winners never complain.
 
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    Two-time champ Bubba fires 63 at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 7:20 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Amid a resurgent season that has already included a pair of wins, it only makes sense that Bubba Watson is back in contention at the Travelers Championship.

    TPC River Highlands has been one of Watson’s favorite haunts over the years; it’s a layout where the southpaw’s creative approach is often rewarded. This is where he burst into tears after earning his first PGA Tour victory in 2010, and this is where he beat Paul Casey in a playoff to again lift the trophy in 2015.

    He’ll once again have a late weekend tee time after firing a 7-under 63 during the second round, tying the low score of the week and moving to within three shots of Brian Harman’s 10-under total.

    “Little bit less wind, little more confidence on the ball-striking, and I made putts,” Watson said. “The key is making putts. When you start making putts, that’s where you’re going to score a decent number.”


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    Watson was well down the standings after opening with an even-par 70, a round that included three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the back nine to negate progress he had made earlier in the day. But he ran into no such struggles the second time around, adding six birdies to an eagle on the par-5 13th hole when he hit his approach shot from 229 yards to within 18 inches of the hole.

    The difference, according to Watson, was between the ears.

    “Yesterday I was just thinking about some negative stuff instead of focusing on my target and focusing on the shot at hand,” Watson said. “I was focusing on hitting to the bunker, or focusing on, ‘Water is over here, so hit it over here.’ Just things like that, just things that you can’t do around the golf course.”

    Watson was also a runner-up in 2012 here in addition to his two wins, and he has racked up nearly $3.5 million in earnings in 11 prior appearances. Once again thinking the right thoughts on one of his favorite tracks, he’s potentially 36 holes away from his third win since February.

    “Obviously around here I feel pretty comfortable,” Watson said. “I can hit some shots around here, and I’ve made it work throughout some of the years.”

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    Only putting is holding McIlroy back

    By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:48 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Through two rounds of the Travelers Championship, the tee shots are towering and the approaches are accurate for Rory McIlroy. Now he just needs the putter to heat up.

    McIlroy started to show signs of life during the second round last week at Shinnecock Hills before missing the cut, and after putting in some extra work honing his swing over the weekend, his tee-to-green game is worth boasting about at the halfway point at TPC River Highlands.

    McIlroy has missed only five greens in regulation through two rounds, barely breaking a sweat en route to rounds of 64 and 69 that left him at 7 under. He’s within striking distance heading into the weekend, three shots behind Brian Harman, but might be topping the standings with a more cooperative putter.


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    “I felt like I left a few out there,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I had a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in. I started them on line, did everything I needed to do, and it’s just one of those days where they were sliding by the edges.”

    McIlroy took 32 putts to complete his second round, including a three-putt on No. 7 for his only bogey of the day and another three-putt on No. 13 that turned an eagle opportunity into a par. Already with a win under his belt this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he knocked in putts from all directions during a final-round 64, McIlroy feels confident that he might be only a few rolls away from having another shot to contend in his second career trip to the Hartford-area stop.

    “I think if I can put the ball in the fairway and hit my irons as good as I have been over the first couple of days, I’ll give myself a lot of chances for birdies,” McIlroy said. “It’s just about converting them and taking the opportunities when they present themselves.”

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    Rosaforte Report: Toski lively, singing and ready to go home

    By Tim RosaforteJune 22, 2018, 6:41 pm

    Bob Toski sounded pretty good for a man near death last week. When we spoke on Friday, the 91-year-old teaching legend and former PGA Tour leading money winner was alive and feeling well. Especially when he was talking about giving lessons, swinging a golf club again, and going down to the piano bar at Arturo’s near his home in Boca Raton, Fla., to sing his favorite song, “Sentimental Journey."

    “It’s been quite a journey,” Toski said in total bliss. “But I’m going home tomorrow.”

    Going back 10 days, to June 12, Toski suffered a severe heart attack that had him on life support, in critical condition, at a hospital not far from the South Florida golf community where he’s pro emeritus at St. Andrews.

    He opened 15 minutes on the phone on Friday by asking how much he owed me for the publicity he got during the U.S. Open. Typical Toski. His heart may have skipped a beat, but he hadn’t.

    At no more than 120 pounds, still larger than life.


    Bob Toski from his hospital bed in South Florida


    “This is the mouse,” he said when asked to confirm it really was him on the phone. “The Mighty Mouse.”

    We were laughing now, but there was a moment one night during “Live From the U.S. Open” when I got a message from the Boca hospital which sounded grim (hospital staff used a defibrillator on him six times during his stay). That’s when one of the friends by his side texted me and said it would be just like “Tosk” to sit up straight and ask everybody what was going on.

    Essentially, that’s what happened. And now here he was on the phone, cracking off one-liners, talking about Brooks Koepka’s win at Shinnecock, giving his take on the USGA and course setup, asking how much I’d been playing, and giving his love to everybody at “The Channel.”

    He invited me down for a lesson at St. Andrews and dinner at Arturos. “In a month’s time,” he said, “I’ll be ready to go.”

    He sounded ready right now, singing a line from his favorite song, from his hospital bed in the happiest of voices, “Gotta set my heart at ease.”

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    Spieth fades with 3-over 73: 'It's just golf'

    By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:10 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – After finding nothing but positives for his first five trips around the course, Jordan Spieth finally suffered a setback at TPC River Highlands.

    Spieth won the Travelers Championship last year in his tournament debut, and he quickly bounced back from a missed cut at Shinnecock Hills by firing a 7-under 63 in the opening round this week to take a share of the lead. Out early during the second round with a chance to move even further into red figures amid calm conditions, he instead went the other way.

    Undone by a triple bogey on the par-5 13th hole, Spieth was 5 over for his first 14 holes and needed an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole for the second straight day simply to salvage a 3-over 73. The score knocked him back to 4 under for the week and six shots behind Brian Harman.

    Despite finding three fewer fairways, three fewer greens in regulation and taking five more putts than he did in the opening round, Spieth still put a positive spin on a lackluster result.


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    “I actually felt like I had better control of my golf swing than I did yesterday. I really struggled with my swing yesterday and I kind of got some good breaks,” Spieth said. “It’s just golf. It’s kind of like yesterday I got three or four shots extra out of the round, and today I lost three or four based on how I felt.”

    Spieth was happy with his opening-round effort, but even after finishing late in the day he still went straight to the driving range that lines the ninth fairway at TPC River Highlands – not exactly standard behavior after grabbing a share of the lead.

    “So it’s not like things are on,” he said. “Sometimes it can get disguised by rounds, but it’s not far off. It really is close.”

    Spieth has lamented a lack of quality chances to win this year, which he has previously described as being within six shots of the lead heading into the final round. He’ll have some work to do to meet that mark this weekend in defense of his title, as his round hit a snag on No. 13, his fourth hole of the morning, when he pulled his tee shot out of bounds and then hit his subsequent approach into the water.

    “For whatever reason, it’s a large fairway but it’s always just killed me,” Spieth said. “I don’t know what it is about the hole, but that hole I get on the tee and for whatever reason I struggle. … I just hit a bad shot at the wrong time there.”