Tom Fazio on Course Changes
When Augusta National chose Fazio to alter its course to stay abreast of the added length that new balls and clubs are affecting, it chose one of the very best. Fazio spoke about the project on TGC's Golf Talk Live. Following is his comments about each of the holes he cosmetically altered:
HOLE NO. 1 ' From where the spectator sees it, the hole hasnt changed at all. But with the tee moving back and to the left, that hole is 23 yards longer, and that brings the bunker more into play. Its been reshaped so that it has the design principle that it was intended to have - the hazard feature on the right side of the hole. Todays players, todays golf balls and todays golf courses ' the bunker did not come into play for 70 percent of the field. Now, that bunker will come into play.
Mark OMeara and Tiger Woods wrote an article a couple of weeks ago about playing the finished course. It reminded me of Pinehurst No. 2 during the Open few years ago which Payne Stewart won. That Open happened to come in weather, which was misty and cloudy and wet. The golf course played substantially longer than it normally would have played in the summer months. Its not the same golf course that Tiger and Mark will play in April. I doubt that Tiger will hit a 6-iron on the first hole.
HOLE NO. 7 - If you just put down on paper 410 yards, and the golf ball can be hit by todays tour players from 290 to 310 ' subtract that 310 from 410 and that leaves 100 yards. So they can still use a sand wedge.
I think on No. 7, the intent of that golf hole originally was the narrow landing area necessitated by the trees, and you had to drive it in position. Many players in the 60s and 50s - and maybe the early 70s - would lay up off the tee with a 3-wood or maybe an iron. As Mark OMeara said in his article last week, where he could hit a 2-iron and a 9-iron or a pitching wedge, he now he has to hit a driver or 3-wood and a 9-iron or pitching wedge.
This goes back to what the intent of the golf course was. As Mr. (Hootie) Johnson (Augusta National chairman) said at the press conference last year, the intent was not to be playing 425, 435-yard par-4s with driver and pitching wedge or sand wedge.
HOLE NO. 8 - The additional 20 yards will be substantial on this hole because of the angle of moving the tee to the right. I believe that the yardage on 8 will bring the bunker more into play, which was the intent.
HOLE NO. 9 ' It now plays 460 yards. I think well see the David Duvals, Phil Mickelsons and other long hitters hit 7-, 8-, 9-irons into this green.
Again, it has to do with the weather. But I believe the longer length of this hole, along with tree plantings which have been placed on the right side of the hole, will put a little bit more premium on that tee shot and make the 9th hole the strong hole it was intended to be. The crosswalks have been moved almost every year where the gallery crosses the hole because the ball keeps going further and further into the crosswalk.
HOLE NO. 11 - I stood there and watched Phil Mickelson hit a pitching wedge because of his tee shot and position. (Ben Hogan commented that if he ever hits the No. 11 green, its because he has pulled his approach shot.) But I dont believe that todays players are going to be aiming away from that green when they are hitting 9-irons and pitching wedges and sand wedges (Hogan hit a 5-iron.) They (todays players) are going to be aiming right at it.
The only thing thats been done by lengthening the tee shot is to have the landing area back where it was within the original intent of the golf hole.
HOLE NO. 13 ' The new addition thats been added here, I dont believe its going to be a substantial change. Just getting over the fact of change - if you had a par-5 that was a 3-wood, 7- or 8-iron, would you say that has the maximum strength it could have? No, you wouldnt. You would say, Lets make it long enough where we can put a driver in the players hand. But if they want to hit a 3-wood, they can hit a 3-wood, just to put it in position.
So this adjustment, I dont think its going to be major. But I think its going to be enough to affect play.
HOLE NO. 18 - I have a hard time accepting the comment that its a major change. I dont see it as a major change. The tee has been moved back and to the right. What its done is make the hole play ' my opinion ' almost the same way it would have played in the 60s. Duval and Mickelson and Tiger and McCarron, theyre going to be hitting 6-, 7-, 8-irons, even with the new length.
The bunkers off the left are the target feature and also the hazard for the hole. As we know, trees were added to the left of the hole. I believe Cliff Roberts added those for Tom Weiskopf, who used to drive it left of the bunker down into the open spaces.
The wonderful thing about golf is that everybody has an opinion. And theres no absolute answer.
'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.
Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.
“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”
Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.
The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.
“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”
Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.
“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”
Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.
“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”
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Ball headed O.B., Stone (68) gets huge break
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brandon Stone knew it when he hit it.
“I knew I hit it out of bounds,” the South African said following his opening round in the 147th Open Championship.
Stone’s second shot on the par-4 18th, from the left fescue, was pulled into the grandstands, which are marked as O.B. But instead of settling in with the crowd, the ball ricocheted back towards the green and nearly onto the putting surface.
Stone made his par and walked away with a 3-under 68, two shots off the early lead.
“I really didn’t put a good swing on it, bad contact and it just came out way left,” Stone said. “I feel so sorry for the person I managed to catch on the forehead there, but got a lucky break.
“When you get breaks like that you know you’re going to have good weeks.”
It’s been more than just good luck recently for Stone. He shot 60 in the final round – missing a 9-foot birdie putt for the first 59 in European Tour history – to win last week’s Scottish Open. It was his third career win on the circuit and first since 2016. It was also just his first top-10 of the season.
“A testament to a different mental approach and probably the change in putter,” said Stone, who added that he switched to a new Ping Anser blade model last week.
“I’ve been putting, probably, the best I have in my entire life.”
This marks Stone’s sixth start in a major championship, with his best finish a tie for 35th in last year’s U.S. Open. He has a missed cut and a T-70 in two prior Open Championships.