Which resort is king of the Florida Swing

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 3, 2011, 1:32 am

The Florida Swing is the only four-event stretch on the PGA Tour hosted exclusively by courses open to the public. In this edition of Travel Punch Shots travel editor Erik Peterson and TravelGolf.com senior writer Mike Bailey debate which course – PGA National, TPC Blue Monster at Doral, Innisbrook or Bay Hill – is king of the Florida Swing.

By ERIK PETERSON

Although each of the four courses on the Florida Swing is a must-play for the traveling golfer, only the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Tampa is regarded by several major champions as one of the finest courses on the PGA Tour – if not in the entire nation.

'If I could only play one course the rest of my life, it would be Copperhead,' two-time U.S. Open champ Curtis Strange once said. 'It has that much character.'

'Copperhead is the best course we play on Tour,' said PGA Champion Paul Azinger.

Retief Goosen had the same sentiment after winning the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook in 2009. “It's one of the great courses on the PGA Tour,” the two-time U.S. Open champ said.

British Open champion Stewart Cink said Copperhead's layout is good enough that 'it could host a U.S. Open.'

Granted, many of the world’s best golfers have a “tougher is better” mentality to evaluating golf courses, but their high praise is impossible to ignore, even if it’s contrary to the view of ordinary golfers who might have a different set of values when evaluating the quality of a golf course.

No matter which set of tees you decide to play, you’ll understand why pros like it so much.

Rolling through tree-lined terrain that’s atypical of the Tampa Bay area, this Larry Packard design is one Florida’s most scenic inland courses. Contrary to Florida Swing counterparts Bay Hill and PGA National, Copperhead doesn’t have any houses around it.

Most holes have a risk/reward element to them, due to elevation change, doglegs or water hazards. Though it’s 7,340 yards from the tips it’s known as a thinker’s course, evidenced by short-hitting Jeff Sluman co-owning the course record of 9-under 62.

Whether you’re a pro or an amateur on a golf vacation, there’s no doubt Copperhead is king of the Florida Swing.

By MIKE BAILEY

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – In addition to serving as current host of the Honda Classic, PGA National Resort & Spa also has an impressive past, having hosted the 1983 Ryder Cup, 1987 PGA Championship and 1982-2000 Senior PGA Championship. A recent $65 million renovation has only strengthened its position as the best venue on the Florida Swing.

The Champion Course at PGA National opened in 1981 and although it was originally designed by Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus' name is most often associated with it because not only did he do the redesign in 1990, but the famous Bear Trap stretch of holes (15-17) is named after him.

The Bear Trap includes a pair of par 3s over water sandwiched around a par 4 with water off the tee and in front of the green. It's considered one of the toughest stretches on the PGA Tour, and a place where the tournament is often won or lost. Add a little wind and it gets really interesting.

But for the traveling golfer there's nothing better than an all-inclusive resort, and PGA National is just that. The aforementioned renovation included a complete overhaul of the Palmer Course, new greens on the Squire Course and other improvements on the other three courses.

You could stay here five days and play a different course each day without having to drive anywhere. Perfect.

Plus, those capital improvements also include a stylish new lobby and iBAR, which is a great place to hang out, mingle and watch sports after your round. There's also the outstanding Ironwood Grille Restaurant and a remodeled 40,000-square-foot spa that includes outdoor mineral pools, dubbed the Waters of the World.

In addition, guests can improve their game at the resort's Titleist Performance Institute, David Leadbetter School of Golf, Dave Pelz Scoring School and a tour-level clubfitting experience.

If golf is what you're after, PGA National is the answer.
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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”