Righting the wrong

By Rex HoggardJune 30, 2011, 10:54 pm

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – Right scores, wrong course.

That’s what U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis must have been thinking as he watched the action unfold at Aronimink Golf Club – a measured slug-fest where par has not succumbed to the inflationary realities of the modern game and hitting fairways matters.

It’s a dramatic contrast to Congressional and this year’s U.S. Open – an event some say was an Open in name only.

Contrasting weather conditions, of course, dictate most of what transpired at Congressional – where Rory McIlroy mowed down century’s old scoring records, to say nothing of a stunned field – and on Thursday at Aronimink.

At Congressional hot and dry preceded a predictably wet week, the nuclear option for set-up types, while PGA Tour officials enjoyed the preferred opposite, rain in the weeks leading up to the AT&T National and cloudless sunshine this week.

On Tuesday defending AT&T National champion Justin Rose tweeted, “It could be more U.S. Open [than] the U.S. Open was,” and on Thursday the Englishman’s sage predictions played out perfectly.

The Round 1 scoring average at Aronimink was 71.499, 1.499 strokes over par; well ahead of Sunday’s average at TPC Pincushion . . . eh, make that Congressional (71.444 average, .444 over par).

Twenty-eight players posted sub-par scores on Thursday at the AT&T National, compared to 32 on Sunday at Congressional, a collection that included McIlroy’s silly 69 to complete his Open march.

“This course is set up like a U.S. Open,” said Joe Ogilvie, whose 3-under 67 wedged him into a tie for third place. “The fairways are a little bit wider, but it’s definitely playing very similar . . . except for this year’s U.S. Open.”

Tour officials got the weather the USGA was hoping for, but to hear the rank-and-file make the obvious comparisons on Thursday it’s impossible not to think that maybe AT&T National got the golf course the blue blazers wanted as well.

“This golf course is a lot firmer (than Congressional),” said Robert Garrigus, whose opening 68 is two strokes off the pace set by Adam Scott and Hunter Haas.

“The rough is thicker and the greens are firmer and I don’t think double digits (under par) is going to win this week. I think right around 10 under par will get it done this week.”

Garrigus, who tied for third at Congressional for co-low American honors, lets that statement linger in the air for a moment before adding, “We’re going to have fun at Olympic next year.”

The Olympic Club is scheduled to host next year’s national championship and caddie yard wisdom suggests that Davis and the USGA will want to prove that they haven’t gone soft when they set up the 2012 venue. But that’s a different column, and a much different golf course.

Similarly, Aronimink is being viewed much differently, perhaps even as a more worthy Grand Slam test, than Congressional. It’s a fact that likely explains why Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America’s top set-up man, was lurking about the Donald Ross gem on Thursday.

Aronimink hasn’t hosted a regular men’s major since the 1962 PGA Championship, and has been the site of just two USGA championships (’97 U.S. Junior and ’77 U.S. Amateur) in its 115-year history. The U.S. Open will be played at nearby Merion in 2013 so it doesn’t seem likely the USGA would come calling. But the PGA hasn’t held “Glory’s Last Shot” in the Philadelphia area since that ’62 championship.

Considering how Aronimink has held up to the modern game, not to mention the inevitable comparisons to Congressional, it might be time to weave the layout back into the Grand Slam fold.

AT&T National moves back down Interstate-95 to Washington, D.C., next year, leaving Philly fans golf-less, again. It’s a curious injustice considering the size of the market and the potential quality of a venue like Aronimink.

“Even if I wasn’t a member here it’s probably as good as it gets as far as what we play on Tour,” Sean O’Hair said. “It’s one of the top 5 courses we play all year.”

Tour officials got the conditions, and maybe even the course, the USGA wanted. Now it’s time for Aronimink to get the major it deserves.

Getty Images

Rose leads Koepka, Grillo by four at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 9:06 pm

On the strength of a 4-under 66 Saturday, Justin Rose will take an four-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Colonial Country Club.

Leaderboard: Rose (-14), Koepka (-10), Grillo (-10), Corey Conners (-8), Jon Rahm (-8), Louis Oosthuizen (-8), J.T. Poston (-8), Ryan Armour (-8)

What it means: The fifth-ranked player in the world is 18 holes from his ninth PGA Tour victory and his second this season. Up once to start the third round, Rose extended his lead to as much as five with birdies on four of his first six holes. Through 54 holes, Rose has made XX birdies and just XX bogeys. The 2013 U.S. Open winner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has a history of winning at iconic venues - Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional - and now looks to add Colonial to the list. He'll be chased on Sunday by Grillo, the young Argentianian who won his first Tour start as a member in 2015, and Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner who continues to impress in his injury comeback despite ongoing wrist issues.  

Round of the day: Corey Conners and Ted Potter both turned in 8-under 63. Potter was bogey-free and Conners came home in 6-under 29 on the back nine.

Best of the rest: Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman, and Michael Thompson all signed for 64. Rahm called his six-birdie start the best 10 holes he's played so far this year. 

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth has finished second-first-second in the last three years at this event, but he's yet to find his normal Colonial form through three rounds. Spieth, who said Friday he was capable of shooting "10 or 12 under" over the weekend, shot even-par 70 Saturday. He sits in T-38 at 3 under for the week, 11 back.

Shot of the day: Rory Sabbatini closed out his third round Saturday with this eagle holeout from 134 yards at the 18th. 

His colorful scorecard featured three bogeys, two birdies, a double bogey and that eagle. It added up to a 1-over 71. 

Getty Images

McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.

Getty Images

Watch: Rose one-arms approach, makes birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 7:25 pm

Justin Rose appears to have taken a course in Hideki Matsuyama-ing.

Already 3 under on his round through five thanks to a birdie-birdie-birdie start, Rose played this approach from 143 yards at the par-4 sixth.

That one-armed approach set up a 6-foot birdie putt he rolled in to move to 4 under on his round and 14 under for the week, five clear of the field.

Getty Images

McIlroy battles back into tie for BMW PGA lead

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 4:09 pm

Rory McIlroy got off to a rocky start on Saturday in the third round of the BMW PGA Championship, including hitting a spectator and making a double bogey. But after that incident on the sixth hole, he didn't drop another shot, birdieing the final hole to shoot a 1-under 71 and tie for the lead.

McIlroy had gone into Moving Day with a three-shot lead, but Francesco Molinari had the round of the day, a 6-under 66. "It was nice keep a clean scorecard," said Molinari, who hasn't made a bogey since the 10th hole on Friday.

Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

McIlroy and Molinari will be paired in Sunday's final round. They are tied at 13 under par, four shots clear of Ross Fisher, Branden Grace, Sam Horsfield and Alexander Noren.

The Wentworth course ends with back-to-back par-5s, and McIlroy birdied both of them. He got a break on the 18th hole as his drive hit a spectator and bounced into light rough.

"It was a struggle out there today," McIlroy said. "I think when you're working on a few things in your swing and the wind is up and you're stuck between trying to play different shots, but also try to play - you know, make good swings at it, I just hit some loose tee balls on the first few holes. But I'm proud of myself. I stayed patient. I actually - I'm feeling a bit better about myself after today than I was even walking off the course yesterday."