Pebble No Stone Unturned
The gist of the changes is that fairways have been extended right up to the coastline hazards on six holes. More drives are going to end up wet without a significant cut of rough to keep them from tumbling off the cliffs.
The Comebacker loves to strike nerves. It is the lifeblood of The Comebacker to respond to e-mails about controversial subjects. And when it comes to Pebble Beach there is no shortage of opinions.
Without further ado:
Todd writes: With the winter drought that we are experiencing here on the Monterey Peninsula, the fairways may indeed be much faster than anyone could imagine in February. With temperatures in the high 70s and no rain in sight, the 'new hazards' may come into play sooner than anyone expected.
Think about it: The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is just that ' a pro-am. Can you say six and a half hour rounds?
Colin writes:This ought to be interesting. I just love watching pro golfers make double bogey. Tiger beat up a course (Pebble Beach at the 2000 U.S. Open) when nobody else could make par, and they want to make it harder. People will watch Tiger no matter what he shoots. They will not watch Phil shoot 80.The USGA better hope Tiger is in contention. One of the reason I watch golf is to see great players make great shots, not watch them decide where the ball crossed the hazard.
Colin, youre all over the map. Let me just say this: The USGA doesnt need to have Tiger in contention. As big as Woods is ' and I believe hes bigger than anybody in the history of the game ' he is not bigger than The Masters or the U.S. Open.
Jay writes: Nice preview to the new Pebble Beach. I thought you might like to know that for those players that haven't played No. 15 recently, many will be surprised to learn about the new/enhanced bunkers that have been added down the left side. One of them even has a built-in ladder to maneuver in and out of...so all kinds of changes are in store for the show this time. One other thing to consider: We are having a very dry winter so far here in the (Del Monte) forest. If this trend continues next year, look for greens and sloping fairways to be a much larger factor...which should bode well for the field vs. Tiger. When the greens are moist, Tiger has a clear advantage with his trajectory and distance control. The real story in '10 though for Monterey, will be Tiger's return to the Peninsula. Just his presence alone is good for a $50M boost to the local economy.
It always seems to come back (no pun intended) to Tiger, doesnt it?
Wayne writes: I had the chance to play Pebble for the last two years during the month of December and of course, the first year I was in awe of all the surroundings and the icon of Pebble itself. Then last year I was more relaxed and enjoyed my round totally, even thought I shot a combined eight shots more than the year before. As a 12 handicap, I do have issues out there as well as other courses, but all in all, Pebble is one of a kind as are the other courses in Monterey. My personal favorite is Spanish Bay, as I shot a round of 84 there last December and was thrilled.
Happy for you, Wayne. But why do I get the idea that one of the first things you bring up at cocktail parties is your Pebble Beach stories.
John writes: I have no doubt that once players understand the purpose of the restoration they will embrace it with open arms.
Dream on, Johnny boy. The Comebacker has no doubt there will be complaining, at the very least at the 2010 U.S. Open. Actually, I think they teach a course on it at Q-School.
Doug writes: I played Pebble Beach more than 30 years ago, calling for a tee time the same morning I played, and the price, with cart, was $55.00. It was and remains the most memorable course I ever played. I think the changes you describe will be great. I am used to seeing deep rough in major championships, and watching the pros hack out from there. Shortening the rough is certainly an opposite for a major, and I for one, am looking forward to seeing how the pros cope. One thing I recall about No. 6 is television does not come close to the actual visual when you are standing on the fairway, looking towards the green, and you have to hit across Stillwater Cove. A scary sight indeed for an amateur.
The thing about Pebble Beach is this: Its the most visually distracting golf course in the world. There is so much beauty in every direction that its hard to stay in your shot. Also, on a sunny day on the Monterey Peninsula, the reds are redder, the greens are greener and the blues are bluer. One word: Kodachrome.
Michael writes: I played there last April for the first time and No. 6 will be diabolical, but then they deserve that. If you fade the ball, better bring a draw or WD.
There you go.
Alex writes: Here we go again, changing courses to fit the equipment instead of the other way around. My favorite analogy is with the game of baseball. Ballparks are not being constantly enlarged to accommodate souped-up bats and balls, so why do we continue to make these 7000+ plus yard monsters? The lords of golf continue to shamelessly kowtow to the equipment manufacturers and kiss their offered hand so they will continue the big dollar cash flow. And shame on the USGA for not having any backbone. Where is the tournament ball that was suggested as far back as in Bobby Jones' day? Someone has got to stop this madness.
My first thought in response is to remind you that last years U.S. Open at Torrey Pines was close to 7,600 yards. And it was pretty good stuff, as I recall. Pebbles only going up to 7,014 for the 2010 U.S. Open. I wouldnt call that a souped-up monster.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.
The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.
The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.
This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.
After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.
“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”
Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.
Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.
“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”
Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.
To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.
“More punishment,” he said.
DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.
Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.
Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.
Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.
It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.
With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.
Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.
TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:
• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.
• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.
• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery.
• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”
• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.
• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.
• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.