Don't think long at skinny Pete Dye Resort Course at Westin Mission Hills

By Travel ArticlesMarch 14, 2012, 4:00 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Pete Dye stands among the most prolific course designers in the Coachella Valley with six tracks to his credit. His desert portfolio spans the sadistic (TPC Stadium Course at PGA West), the scenic (La Quinta Resort & Club's Mountain Course), the secluded (Hideaway Club) and -- in the case of his Pete Dye Resort Course at Westin Mission Hills -- the skinny.

Charting just 6,700 yards from the tips and routed through residential and resort property, the par-70 scorecard presents a mesh of Dye signatures and dart board shot-making requirements.

'You don't see much of the par 70 anymore,' said Michael Macleod, director of sales and marketing at the Westin Mission Hills. 'So, it's a lot more of a traditional golf course, even though it was only built in 1987. It feels like it might be an older-era course. It's not a big, wide-open course with acres of room. Your sense of perspective narrows greatly.'

Upon arrival, the guest's perspective will instantly narrow upon the water-laden home hole routed along the path from the bag drop to the clubhouse. Ample Dye signatures await on the 18th, as if the designer seeks to instill target-golf fear before a ball is even struck.

'I think the Pete Dye Resort Course is very recognizable to golf design, to people that know golf course and particularly Dye courses,' Macleod said. 'You see the railway ties and the pot bunkers. Although it's sort of 'Pete Dye Light' to a certain degree, because it's a tough course, but it’s not punitive like some other Pete Dyes around town.'

Despite the lack of length and just two par 5s, the course can indeed prove a challenge to the inaccurate. While the greens are among the truest in the Valley -- the route to these putting surfaces encompasses a selection of water hazards, lengthy dune bunkering, tee shots into the prevailing wind and a host of alleyways skinnier than a desperate jockey on race day.

First-time players will undoubtedly comment upon the absence of secondary-cut beyond the fairway. The lack of two-inch grass in favor of turf sans overseeding cuts a distinct map of direction between green and brown, and hitting from the harder surfaces will likely take more than a few strokes to find a simpatico swing. The errant will experience the brown readily, and when the course rolls it generally rolls toward trouble.

Beyond aesthetics, water plays havoc on three distinct occasions, with No. 8, No. 14 and No. 18 accounting for Dye's most memorable holes.

'The three holes where the water comes into play are the defining holes,' Macleod said. 'If you're a good player, and you're worried about your score -- those are the holes that will define if you're playing well or not.'

The water running all along the left side of the 197-yard, par-3 eight likely won't prove penal from the forward tees, though a precise strike is required from the tips. Such clemency isn't offered on the ensuing water challenge.

'No. 14 is a par 4 with the hotel on the left-hand side,' Macleod said of the Dye's No.2 handicap hole. 'It's a very narrow driving area, and then there's water about 200-yards off the tee to your left. And there are houses on the right before more water to the right of the green. From the tee, you can hit a driver -- as long as you hit it straight. Or you can hit a 5-iron.'

The Dye concludes with a railroad-tied finish that will kick the caboose of the errant.

'No. 18 is a great signature hole and reminiscent of the 18th at Sawgrass,' said Macleod. 'The water runs along the left, and it's a narrow driving hole with a narrow landing area. If you go way right, you'll also find trouble.'

Pete Dye Resort Course at Westin Mission Hills: The verdict

'It's a good course. Pretty tough with the water, but I like it,' said high-handicapper Bob Chase of New Brunswick, Canada. 'But you get off the fairway and discover that it's not that easy.'

This isn't a desert-grandeur example of Dye's work, yet the course will prove a burden for those who spray the ball or own a poor sand game. GPS isn't in play, though 150-yard fairway poles serve as apt guides, and the truly prepared will make ample use of both the supplied yardage card and the Westin's exceptional 'Virtual Tour' on its website.

Full practice facility if offered, and private instruction is available to players of all levels via the Barry Clayton Golf Academy. Daily clinics run at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. for $20. Just after a summer overseed, the course will segue into an $800,000 retrofitting of Dye's signature railway ties.

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

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Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.