Erin Hills receives raves for Amateur setup

By Randall MellAugust 29, 2011, 1:36 pm

ERIN, Wis. – The 15th hole at Erin Hills stands as testament to the brain cramps the golf course can cause players competing for championships. The short hole showed it can play as an itty-bitty par 4 and still be a beast.

U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis relished watching how Erin Hills challenged the thinking of players, and the 15th typified that. Davis likes how the course will set up when the U.S. Open is played there in 2017. He called it a 'great championship test' and compared it with Pebble Beach, Shinnecock Hills and Oakmont.

At 370 yards on the scorecard, the USGA moved the tees at No. 15 up to 252 yards for Sunday’s U.S. Amateur final. It will be remembered as the turning point where Patrick Cantlay lost the championship to Kelly Kraft.

The hole was set up shorter than a par 3 was set up at the Atlanta Athletic Club during the PGA Championship. The 15th hole at Atlanta Athletic Club was 260 yards.

In Sunday’s morning round at Erin Hills, Cantlay knocked a 3-wood over the 15th green with his tee shot and back down into a gully filled with deep fescue. He had an impossible play and pitched back through the green. He might have made double bogey if he hadn’t conceded the hole with a 15-footer for bogey still to play.

In the afternoon round with the tees in the same place, Cantlay tried to make the smart play with a 1-up lead and laid up with an 8-iron. He inexplicably pulled his tee shot and laid up into a nasty fairway bunker.

“I pulled it 15 or 20 yards,” Cantlay said. “I was in between hybrid and 3-wood if I wanted to go for the green.”

Davis said he loved the flexibility Erin Hills offers, the ability to dramatically change holes and make players think over shots.

It worked at the U.S. Amateur.

“It’s really cool what they’re doing,” U.S. Walker Cup player Jordan Spieth said midway through the competition. “They really keep you guessing. You get to a tee box and pull out driver and go, `Oh, wait a minute, I’m not sure that’s the play.’ You never know what they’re going to have up their sleeve next when you come out.”

Spieth said he enjoyed the test.

“I didn’t know what to expect coming here,” Spieth said. “After driving 45 minutes through corn fields and tobacco fields, here comes this monster golf course.”

Though at 7,760 yards the course was the longest in USGA championship history, length wasn’t the real challenge. The firmness of fairways and greens were with balls rolling out.

“This is like being at home,” said England’s Jack Senior, a semifinalist. “Where the Walker Cup is in two weeks' time, this is exactly like it. This is the exact style of course I play week in, week out, so this is a real home track for me.”

Davis said watching the U.S. Amateur, there will be tweaks for the U.S. Open in six years, mostly new tee boxes not designed to add length but to create more angles requiring even more thinking on certain tee shots.

Davis said the enormous size of the property, and the natural vistas for viewing, make it possible Erin Hills could be the first venue where U.S. Open ticket sales wouldn't have to be capped. Davis, however, said sales would be capped because of bus issues in transporting fans to the course.

“Think about a University of Michigan football game,” Davis said. “You could put that many people here and they could still move around fine. You wouldn’t even need bleachers.”

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."