Firestone sets up well as Oak Hill preview

By Jason SobelJuly 31, 2013, 7:17 pm

AKRON, Ohio – There are two schools of thought for elite pro golfers when preparing for major championships. Rather than separate them as The Players and The Planners or The Grinders and The Relaxers, it's simple enough to refer to 'em as the Phils and the Tigers.

Lest you've failed to pay attention to the week before a major for the past couple of decades, here's the scoop: The Phils (as in Mickelson) prefer to get into the major groove by competing in a tournament the week prior; the Tigers (as in Woods) would rather ready themselves by practicing, often at the major venue.

Plenty of top players move swiftly between the two groups depending on the major or their personal schedule or their current form. That's true for every big-week-before-a-big-week other than this one, when – in a fit of poetic justice stolen from another athletic superstar – the game's best will be taking their talents to Akron.

Since 2007, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational has preceded the PGA Championship. That doesn’t always mean host course Firestone Country Club sets up as perfect preparation for the major venue, though. There are many years – take last year, for instance, as Firestone was followed by a seaside links in Kiawah’s Ocean Course – when competing on one doesn’t serve any significance the next week.


WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Articles, videos and photos


This isn’t one of those years.

This year, Firestone will be followed in the batting order by Oak Hill, another tree-lined, old-style course that will require competitors to bash drivers long and straight in order to find success.

“It is very similar, straightforward, right in front of you,” said Woods, who has won at Firestone seven times and parlayed a win here in 2007 into a PGA Championship win, as well. “This golf course, I don't think, is as hard or as difficult as Oak Hill, especially with the green complexes. The green complexes are a little bit more severe at Oak Hill. But overall it's old-school golf. It's just right in front of you, no hidden tricks out there. Just got to go out there and really hit the ball well.”

While the Tigers and the Phils may not always get along, on this matter there is agreement.

“We were there [Monday], and it's in immaculate shape,” Mickelson said. “It's really pristine. It's difficult, as you can imagine, like any major championship. It's as thick a rough as I've seen in a long time – long, dense, thick, heavy rough. And it will have a premium – it's very much like a U.S. Open – it will have a premium on getting the ball in play off the tee and so forth.”

U.S. Open champion Justin Rose generally prefers to relax and practice as opposed to competing prior to a major, but he understands how figuring out Firestone could help him contend for another major next week.

“You're going to have to drive it fairly straight and without too much shape,” he said. “A lot of straightaway par 4s, a lot of holes where you're just literally having to get up and hit a good solid 300-yard tee shot. I feel like this course will be great preparation for that. Like I was just saying, it's a golf course here where you have to just get up and play really well Tee to Green. Sometimes straight par 4s are often the hardest, where there's not a lot of shape to them, and you do have quite a few of those out there on this golf course.”

“They're both old-fashioned, traditional golf courses,” agreed defending PGA champion Rory McIlroy. “I think the fairways at Oak Hill have probably got a little more bend to them. You've got to shape a lot of shots at Oak Hill. Here the fairways are just sort of straight out in front of you. But the greens are similar. They're quite small, slope-y. And the par 3s here and the par 3s at Oak Hill are strong holes, and you're going to have to hit some good iron shots.”

Success at one venue doesn’t always bode well for success at the next, even when the two courses can be viewed as similar tracks. If any of this week’s competitors are seeking a little extra inspiration, though, they need only look back to a few weeks ago, when Mickelson prevailed on a true links course for the first time in his career at the Scottish Open, then triumphed one week later at The Open Championship.

Afterward, he credited the pre-major victory for giving him the momentum to win again and the belief that it could happen on a similar course.

It’s well within reason to think that a week and a half from now, a player will hoist the Wanamaker Trophy aloft, then credit his success at Firestone as the impetus for that victory.


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LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

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Finally got it down lol

A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and merely try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.

Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.

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How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

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If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.

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Sponsored: Callaway's 'Golf Lives: Home Course'

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 4:20 pm

In this original series, Callaway sets out to profile unique golf locations around the country based on their stories, communities and the characters that surround them. The golf cultures across the series are remarkably diverse, yet in all cases it's the course itself that unifies and ignites the passions of those who play.

“Golf Lives: Home Course” focuses on three distinct home courses across the country – one in D.C., one in Nebraska and one in Portland, Ore. All have very different golf cultures, but are connected by a deep love of the game.

Click here for a look at all three series segments, as well as past Golf Lives features.

And here’s a breakdown of the three courses in focus: 

FILM 1

Langston Golf Course (Washington, D.C.)

Opened in June 1939, Langston is steeped in a rich history. Known for its triumphant role in the desegregation of public golf, the course has been integral to the growth of the game’s popularity among African Americans. With its celebratory feel, Langston shows us golf is not unifies individuals, but generations. 


FILM 2

Edgefield Golf Course (Portland, Ore.)

The air is fresh, the beers are cold and the vibes are electric at Edgefield. You'd be hard pressed to find a more laid back, approachable and enjoyable environment for a round. Overlooking stunning panoramic views of northeast Portland, two par-3 pub courses (12 holes and 20 holes) wind through vineyards, thickets of blackberry bushes and a vintage distillery bar. All are welcome at Edgefield, especially those who have never swung a club. 


FILM 3

Wild Horse Golf Club (Gothenburg, Neb.)

In 1997, the locals and farmers living in the tight-knit town of Gothenburg decided to build a golf course. A bank loan, a couple of tractors, and a whole lotta sweat-equity later, their prairieland masterpiece is now considered one of the best in the country. Wild Horse is the soul of the community, providing unforgettable memories for all who play it.

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Pepperell likely sews up Masters invite via OWGR

By Will GrayOctober 15, 2018, 2:13 pm

Eddie Pepperell received a trophy for his win Sunday at the British Masters, but another prize will be coming in the mail at the end of the year.

Pepperell held on to win by two shots at rainy Walton Heath, giving him his second win of the year to go along with a pair of runner-ups. The Englishman started the year ranked No. 133 in the world and was as low as 513th in May 2017. But with the win, Pepperell jumped 17 spots to a career-best 33rd in the latest world rankings.

It means that Pepperell, who finished T-6 at The Open while fighting a hangover in the final round, is in line to make his Masters debut next spring, as the top 50 in the world rankings at the end of the calendar year become exempt into the season's first major.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


Another player now in the mix for that top-50 exemption is Emiliano Grillo, who went from 62nd to 49th with a T-2 finish at the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic. Grillo has played in two Masters but missed this year's event. Marc Leishman moved up eight spots to No. 16 with his win in Malaysia, while T-2s result moved Chesson Hadley from 75th to 60th and Bronson Burgoon from 162nd to 102nd.

There were no changes among the top 10 in the latest rankings, with Dustin Johnson still ahead of Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. Francesco Molinari remains in sixth, with Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth rounding out the top 10.

Both Koepka and Thomas are in the field at this week's CJ Cup in South Korea, where they will have an opportunity to overtake Johnson for world No. 1.

With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods stayed at No. 13 for another week.

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USGA, R&A unveil new limits on green books

By Rex HoggardOctober 15, 2018, 1:53 pm

Following a six-week feedback period, the USGA and R&A unveiled a new interpretation of the Rules of Golf and the use of green-reading materials on Monday.

The interpretation limits the size and scale of putting green books and any electronic or digital materials that a player may use to assist with green reading.

“We’re thankful for everyone’s willingness to provide feedback as we worked through the process of identifying a clear interpretation that protects the essential skill of reading a green, while still allowing for information that helps golfers enjoy the game,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance.

Players will be allowed to continue to use green-reading books beginning in 2019, but the new interpretation will limit images of greens to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480), and books can be no larger than 4 1/4 inches by 7 inches (pocket-sized). The interpretation also bans the use of magnification devices beyond normal prescription glasses.

The USGA and R&A will allow for hand-drawn notes in green books as long as those notes are written by the player or their caddie. The rule makers also dropped a proposal that would have limited the minimum slope to four percent in green-reading material.

“These latest modifications provide very practical changes that make the interpretation easier to understand and apply in the field,” Pagel said.