In time for the 37th Ryder Cup Matches, GolfChannel.com Courses & Travel caught up with Valhalla Golf Club Superintendent, Mark Wilson. Hes been in the business for 37 years, including the last 20 at Valhalla.
GC.com: What are some of your fondest memories from the 2000 PGA?
MW: The script read for Tiger to win and in a playoff, no less. The atmosphere was electric here at Valhalla. The script reads for Americans to win here.
GC.com: How is the course different now than in 2000?
MW: The routing is the same but the look is different. We rebuilt four greens and reworked all 65 bunkers. In addition, we cut down almost 8,000 trees while building numerous rock walls. Weve also created a six-acre waterscape on No. 7 and a waterfall on No. 13.
GC.com: What are the toughest holes?
MW: First, you have the 495-yard dogleg-right sixth hole. This green was moved back 80 yards. Moving to the back nine, we moved the tee back 70 yards on the now 510-yard par-4 16th which now has a new green and green complex. We moved the 17th tee back 40 yards, stretching this uphill par-4 to 475 yards. Nos. 5 and 12 have traditionally played difficult. No. 5 has four new fairway bunkers and No. 12 remains the same.
GC.com: What is the rough like?
MW: Right where we want it: Short intermediate rough (1 ) with a little lettuce around the greens.
GC.com: Which holes are best for match play?
MW: With a double fairway, No. 7 gives players a choice off the tee. The left option allows players the opportunity to go for it in two. No. 13 will also be exciting, especially if we play it up and they attempt to drive the green. The par-5 18th is always interesting with the chance for a closing eagle.
GC.com: What do you think will be the pivotal hole?
MW: Nos. 10, 11 and 12 is our version of Amen Corner.
GC.com: Do you think Valhalla favors the Americans?
GC.com: What type of player is the course suited for?
MW: It favors the long hitter and accurate iron player. [Designer] Jack Nicklaus gives you an ocean off the tee and tightens it up for your second shot to bunkers close to the greens and an average 5,500 square-foot green. All par-5s are reachable for the long hitters.
GC.com: In your time spent with Captain Azinger, what impresses you most?
MW: His sense of humor.
GC.com: Has captain Azinger asked for your input on course setup?
MW: Yes. We met several times leading up to his final captains picks.
GC.com: Which Ryder Cup players have you seen most on the grounds at Valhalla?
MW: Kenny Perry and Steve Stricker.
GC.com: What is something people may not know about Valhalla?
MW: We are now just 22 years old but developing name recognition and tradition.
GC.com: What is the weather like this time of year? Could it play a factor?
MW: I am hoping for perfect weather: High of 78 and low of 62. Theres a little wind this time of year and September is historically our driest month.
GC.com: Ryder Cup prediction?
MW: The underdog Americans should come through and I think we will use home court advantage as much as possible.
GC.com: Valhalla hosted one of the most exciting majors in history, and now the Ryder Cup. Whats next for Valhalla?
MW: (Laughs) A private little sleepy golf club for a while.
Ryder Cup QA Valhalla Superintendent Mark Wilson
Watch: Gary Player tires people out with sit-ups
Well all know Gary Player is a fitness nut, and at 82 years young he is still in phenomenal shape.
That's why it was incredible to see two mere mortals like us try to keep up with him in a sit-up competition at the BMW International Open.
Watch the video below.
The guy in blue makes the smart decision and bows out about halfway through. But give the other guy an "A" for effort, he stuck with Player for about 60 sit-ups, and then the nine-time major champion just starts taunting him.
Japan teen Hataoka rolls to NW Ark. win
ROGERS, Ark. - Japanese teenager Nasa Hataoka ran away with the NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday for her first LPGA title
The 19-year-old Hataoka won by six strokes, closing with an 8-under 63 at Pinnacle Country Club for a tournament-record 21-under 192 total. She broke the mark of 18 under set last year by So Yeon Ryu.
Hataoka won twice late last year on the Japan LPGA and has finished in the top 10 in five of her last six U.S. LPGA starts, including a playof loss last month in the Kingsmill Championship.
Hataoka began the round tied with Minjee Lee for the lead.
Austin Ernst shot a 65 to finish second.
Lee and third-ranked Lexi Thompson topped the group at 13 under.
Tour investigating DeChambeau's use of compass
CROMWELL, Conn. – Bryson DeChambeau’s reliance on science to craft his play on the course is well known, but he took things to a new level this week at the Travelers Championship when television cameras caught him wielding a compass while looking at his yardage book during the third round.
According to DeChambeau, it’s old news. He’s been using a compass regularly to aid in his preparation for nearly two years, dating back to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October 2016.
“I’m figuring out the true pin locations,” DeChambeau said. “The pin locations are just a little bit off every once in a while, and so I’m making sure they’re in the exact right spot. And that’s it.”
But social media took notice this weekend, as did PGA Tour officials. DeChambeau explained that he was approached on the range Saturday and informed that the Tour plans to launch an investigation into whether or not the device is allowable in competition, with a decision expected in the next week.
It’s not the first time the 24-year-old has gone head-to-head with Tour brass, having also had a brief run with side-saddled putting earlier in his career.
“They said, ‘Hey, we just want to let you know that we’re investigating the device and seeing if it’s allowable,’” DeChambeau said. “I understand. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened.”
DeChambeau won earlier this month at the Memorial Tournament, and the Tour’s ruling would not have any retroactive impact on his results earlier this year. Playing alongside tournament winner Bubba Watson in the final round at TPC River Highlands, DeChambeau shot a final-round 68 to finish in a tie for ninth.
“It’s a compass. It’s been used for a long, long time. Sailors use it,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just funny that people take notice when I start putting and playing well.”
Bubba fires 63 to win his third Travelers title
Bubba Watson fired a final-round 63 to storm from six back and steal the Travelers Championship. Here’s how Bubba came from behind once again at TPC River Highlands.
Leaderboard: Bubba Watson (-17), Stewart Cink (-14), Beau Hossler (-14), J.B. Holmes (-14), Paul Casey (-14)
What it means: This is Watson’s 12th PGA Tour win, his third of the season, and his third Travelers title. Watson picked up his first Tour victory at this event in 2010 – when he also came from six back – and won again in 2015 in a playoff victory over – guess who – Casey. Thinking he might need a round of 60 to scare the leader, Watson made eight birdies, the last of which came on the 72nd hole, giving him the outright lead by one. A short while later, Casey would bogey the 16th and 17th to end the drama and allow Bubba to breathe easy. With the win, Watson becomes the only Tour player to win three times this season. He moves to third in the FedExCup points race, behind two-time winners Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson.
Round of the day: Cink’s round was a stroke better, but Bubba earns this title for winning the title. The left-hander made the turn in 2-under 33 and then ripped off five birdies on his back nine to take the clubhouse lead, which he wouldn’t relinquish.
Best of the rest: Cink looked as though he was going to record the second sub-60 round at the Travelers in the last three years. The 2009 champion golfer of the year played his first 10 holes in 7 under par on the par-70 layout. Cink added three more birdies but also added two bogeys to settle for 8-under 62, tying the round of the week. The 45-year-old has finished T-4 and T-2 in his last two starts.
Biggest disappointment: Casey (2-over 72) began the day up four and couldn’t close. Even par on his round through 15 holes, he missed a 4-footer for par on 16 and found the water off the tee at 17, ending his chances. The Englishman, who ended a nine-year Tour winless drought earlier this season at the Valspar, is now 1 for 4 with a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour.
Shot of the day: Watson’s wedge from 77 yards at the 72nd hole, setting up his eighth and final birdie of the day.
Quote of the day: “That’s the best shot you ever hit.” – caddie Ted Scott to Bubba Watson on his approach at 18