Scotland beyond St. Andrews: Perthshire

By Travel ArticlesFebruary 28, 2012, 5:50 pm

Golfers the world over know St. Andrews is where the game began. Consequently, a pilgrimage to golf's homeland is high on the wish list of all those who care about golf's history and traditions.

There's much more to Scotland than simply St Andrews, however, and hundreds of fabulous golfing delights are located outside the Kingdom of Fife. Some are renowned throughout the world, while others are comparatively unknown. But because of the democratic nature of golf in Scotland, nearly all welcome visitors.

With that in mind, let's take a look at golf in Perthshire.

Although it briefly touches both the east and west coasts, Perthshire is predominantly a mountainous county lying right in the heart of the country to the northwest of Edinburgh. Consequently, the numerous golf courses scattered about its length and breadth are inland. Some are hilly, while others are mountainous.

Gleneagles

Undoubtedly the best-known golfing pearl in Perthshire is magnificent Gleneagles. And with the Ryder Cup visiting in 2014 it's set to become even more famous. There are three great courses to satisfy the most demanding of golfers. The newest and the one upon which the Ryder Cup will be fought is Gleneagles' PGA Centenary Course. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, it was launched in 1993. Despite the cool temperatures and strange accents, the U.S. team should feel at home as it undoubtedly has an American feel about it. For example, there are plenty of water hazards, elevated tees and raised contoured greens. A few critics think it looks as if it has been imposed upon the landscape and a touch out of place but, although it may lack the charm of its two regal neighbors, it will undoubtedly test the best.

The original idea behind Gleneagles was to create a 'Palace in the Glens' that would attract noble and wealthy railway travelers. Designed by the legendary James Braid, Gleneagles' Queen's Course was the first to open and is the shorter and somewhat easier of the original pair. With wide fairways lined by Scots Pines, generous greens and bunkers designed to trap only the most wayward shots, the course is fairly forgiving. Attractive banks and pretty escarpments together with the spectacular views make it a visual treat and a hugely enjoyable course to play even if you're not on top of your game.

Designed by Braid but opened just after the Queen's in 1919, the King's Course at Gleneagles has heaps of heather, raised greens and plateau tees. Set within the valley of Strathearn with the Grampian Mountains rising spectacularly to the north and glorious views everywhere you look, it would be hard to imagine more perfect terrain for an inland course.

Blairgowrie Golf Club

In the Rosemount and Lansdowne, Blairgowrie Golf Club has two heavenly heathland courses. Both are lined by forests of pine and silver birch with heather, broom and gorse adding gorgeous touches of color to an already splendid setting.,/p>

Braid laid out the older and more celebrated Rosemount Course at Blairgowrie, while Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas designed the slightly longer Landsowne Course. Although indisputably great and glorious, Blairgowrie is neither pretentious nor intimidating, and the delightful clubhouse is especially warm and welcoming.

Murrayshall Golf Club

Also right up there with the very best is Murrayshall Golf Club. As well as two courses, there's a luxurious country house hotel that's as comfortable as it is attractive. Murrayshall is the older of the two tracks. With white sand bunkers, natural stone bridges and numerous water features, it's perfect parkland golf with a lovely spacious feel. The same designer -- Hamilton Stutt -- returned 20 years later to create the Lynedoch Course, which is tighter and a bit shorter but no less difficult.

Crieff Golf Club

Several world-renowned architects have had a hand in the creation of the Ferntower Course at Crieff Golf Club. Old Tom Morris's original nine-hole course created in 1891 was extended to 18 by Robert Simpson just before the First World War. Then along came Braid in the 1920s to make some further improvements. Rather sadly, perhaps, the creation of another nine-hole course in 1980 and extensive alterations to the Ferntower meant that not that much of his work survived. That said, this delightful hillside course enjoys wonderful views over the Vale of Strathearn and has enormous appeal.

Pitlochry Golf Course

Pitlochery

Allegedly one of Queen Victoria's favorite towns, Pitlochry Golf Course is surrounded by pretty hills, upon one of which you will find a truly lovely golf course. Willie Fernie of Troon laid it out in 1908 and presented players with a stiffish climb over the opening few holes. Be sure to enjoy the purity of the mountain air as you breathe in deeply. Don't worry too much as the terrain soon flattens out and the views from the top certainly make all the effort well worthwhile. As you look out from beneath Ben Y Vrackie, savor the sweeping views down the Tummel Valley. From here on the slopes are not too severe and, should you go into any, you might care to note that the bunkers contain quartz sand.

St. Fillans Golf Club

Although most are, not all the courses in Perthshire are hilly. One delightful nine-holer that is mostly on the level is St. Fillans Golf Club. Originally designed by Willie Auchterlonie in 1903 and subsequently lengthened to over 3000 yards, only the uphill walk to the third tee and the elevated fifth green require any significant effort. Look out for the roe deer and wild goats.

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Nonfactor McIlroy mum after lackluster 74

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 24, 2018, 1:04 am

ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy didn’t have anything to say to the media after the final round of the Tour Championship, and that’s understandable.

McIlroy began the final round at East Lake three shots behind Tiger Woods. He finished six back.

McIlroy closed in 4-over 74 to tie for seventh place.

In their matchup, Woods birdied the first hole to go four in front, and when McIlroy bogeyed the par-4 fourth, he was five in arrears. McIlroy went on to make three more bogeys, one double bogey and just two birdies.


Final FedExCup standings

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McIlroy was never a factor on Sunday and ultimately finished tied for 13th in the FedExCup standings.

The two rivals, Woods and McIlroy, shared plenty of conversations while walking down the fairways. On the 18th hole, Woods said McIlroy told him the scene was like the 1980 U.S. Open when people were shouting, “Jack’s back!”

“I said, ‘Yeah, I just don’t have the tight pants and the hair,’” Woods joked. “But it was all good.”

It’s now off to Paris for the upcoming Ryder Cup, where Woods and McIlroy will again be foes. It will be McIlroy’s fifth consecutive appearance in the biennial matches, while Woods is making his first since 2012.

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Woods now listed as Masters betting favorite

By Will GraySeptember 24, 2018, 12:03 am

Now officially a winner again on the PGA Tour, Tiger Woods has become a popular bet for folks thinking about next year's Masters.

The trip down Magnolia Lane is still seven months away, but Woods' breakthrough victory at the Tour Championship has led bettors to flock to the window to lay down cash on the four-time champ to add green jacket No. 5 next spring at age 43.

Woods was listed at 12/1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook when odds opened after the PGA Championship, behind only 2015 champ Jordan Spieth. That's where he remained for the subsequent six weeks, but after a stirring performance at East Lake Golf Club he's now listed as the 9/1 betting favorite for the first major of 2019.

Here's a look at the latest odds via the Westgate, as many of the top contenders head to Paris for the Ryder Cup:

9/1: Tiger Woods

10/1: Jordan Spieth

12/1: Dustin Johnson

14/1: Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas

16/1: Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler

18/1: Jon Rahm

20/1: Jason Day

25/1: Bubba Watson

30/1: Patrick Reed, Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama, Paul Casey, Tony Finau

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Woods caps comeback season with win No. 80

By Rex HoggardSeptember 24, 2018, 12:01 am

ATLANTA – When the last chapter is penned in the groundbreaking and infinitely complicated life of Tiger Woods, Sept. 23, 2018, may get lost in the details.

His two-stroke victory at the Tour Championship on Sunday was impressive by any measure, but it wouldn’t qualify as his most dominant or his most clinical performance. If we’re being honest, his 80th PGA Tour bottle cap was like so many others, a battle of attrition that never allowed for a modicum of doubt.

There was a three-stroke lead to start the day, a birdie at the first to pad his advantage and a parade of nondescript pars that gave the season’s final round a marching band to nowhere feel. Given the gravity of what was a seminal moment in his career it felt so mundane, but then that’s always been the hallmark of his greatness.

After four back surgeries, four knee surgeries, an arrest for driving under the influence and more cringe moments than an episode of "America’s Got Talent," this victory was so much more than the sum of its parts.

Social media was abuzz in the aftermath of Woods’ walk-off. From the depths of pain, pedestrian performances and poor choices Tiger put an exclamation point on what was already a successful return.

It had some calling this the greatest comeback in the history of sports, but then the car Woods was driving last Memorial Day only bounced off a few curbs, not a bus.

To be historically aware, Ben Hogan’s comeback after nearly dying in a car crash in 1949, a horrific event that was followed by a run that included eight major victories, should be considered the category leader on this front.

But as Tiger whipped a day’s worth of sweat from his face and considered his answer the more relevant question is where the 2018 Tour Championship ranks on his own lifetime resume.


Final FedExCup standings

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“It's certainly up there with obviously all the major championships I've won, Players, World Golf Championships. But this is under different circumstances,” said Woods, who closed with a 71 at East Lake for his first Tour victory since the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. “I just didn't know whether this would ever happen again.”

Woods is normally averse to this type of nostalgia, but even if he wanted to take a deeper dive it’s not a debate that lends itself to instant analysis. When your career has been a nonstop highlight reel of fist pumps and unforgettable moments there’s no easy way to rank greatness.

For some, the 1997 Masters, his first major championship, stands alone as a career high-water mark; while others may lean toward the 2000 U.S. Open where he lapped the field by 15 strokes.

“Those were special because of the way he did it,” said Butch Harmon, Tiger’s swing coach from August 1993 to August 2002. But for Harmon the Tour Championship was different. “He had a chance to win the last two majors. It’s impressive that just two years ago he couldn’t pitch the ball on the green. It’s not exactly Ben Hogan, but it’s along those lines.”

As far as clinical brilliance, most would say the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool is the benchmark. It was Tiger’s first victory after his father, Earl, died following a brutal bout with cancer and was nothing short of a ball-striking show.

“That was his best ball-striking tournament he’s ever had. That’s a different deal,” said Hank Haney, who served as Tiger’s second set of eyes from March 2004 to May 2010.

But it’s the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines that may stand as the competitive and physical pinnacle of Tiger’s career. On a broken leg with a torn ACL he endured 72 grueling holes to finish tied with Rocco Mediate and eventually prevailed on the first hole of a sudden death playoff after 18 holes on Monday.

“That’s No. 1, it’s not even close,” Haney said. “He didn’t win [at East Lake] with a broken leg. At the U.S. Open he won on one leg. It is unbelievable that he came back from four back operations, but once you’ve established that you’re back and you’re healthy you knew he’s going to win. A lot of things had to happen, he got off the prescription drugs and got his back healthy. But I felt like this was going to happen and he’s not done.”

But if the ’08 U.S. Open is the standard by which Tiger’s career will always be measured, his performance at East Lake deserves to be considered with a wider lens. This wasn’t about fairways hit or birdies made, this was about rounding a corner many never imagined he could.

At his darkest moments last year there was doubt he’d ever be able to swing a golf club again, never mind throw an 11-under total at the world’s best. The game had passed him by the critics claimed and even if he did find his way off the surgeon’s table the current cast and crew were a different breed who would be immune to his dominant ways and the aura he once held over the game.

This wasn’t Hoylake in ’06 or Pebble Beach in ’00, but in many ways it was better. There’s nothing better in sports than a comeback story and Tiger’s journey from a broken and burdened man to beaming on a final green is nothing short of a reinvention.

“The world is full of people who want to see a comeback story. We’re all coming back from something, so when you see someone do it inspires people to fight through it,” said Sean Foley, who stepped in for Haney in August 2010 and served as Woods’ swing coach until August 2014.

It was only last summer that the most common image of Tiger was a mug shot taken after his DUI arrest. The grainy image looking back at the world was a testament to how far he’d fallen, an unshaven and blurry-eyed shadow of the player who once seemed so untouchable. He couldn’t play golf, he couldn’t even ride in a golf cart his back hurt so bad, and his inability to do the one thing he was truly great at left Tiger to his own devices.

As he recovered from fusion surgery on his lower back he began to miss the game and the things that he’d done to transform it. As he returned, slowly at first before picking up the pace this summer, he allowed the world to see a different side, a player who was appreciative of what amounted to a final chance to be great.

There was emotion on Sunday and unbridled joy. His first victory in five years may defy assessment, but for Tiger there was so much more to his week in Atlanta than the history books could ever reveal.

“It's totally different because of what he’s been through, but I’d have to put [his victory at East Lake] up there with one of his greatest victories ever because of what he’s been through, the mental and physical, the disgrace,” Harmon said.

Maybe the 2018 Tour Championship won’t go down as Tiger’s masterpiece when he hangs up his Nikes. Maybe what awaits will be the true measure of his genius.

“The greatest accomplishment in sports is going to be when he’s No. 1 again and that’s going to be pretty soon,” Haney said. “When he returns to No. 1 it won’t be a debate.”

With fans stacked five and six rows deep along every fairway, probably the biggest crowd East Lake has seen since Bobby Jones was stalking the rolling hills, Tiger played the script he invented, a bullish version of what Stewart Cink once called a prevent defense.

The only change to this all-too-familiar routine was the pregnant pause he allowed himself after putting out on the 18th hole, slamming his putter into the ground and raising his arms in triumph.

In a historic twist it was the same green where Jones, who pulled off an impressive comeback of his own once, ended his golf career. It was only apropos that Tiger would complete his comeback and restart his career on the same spot.

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Woods: Support from Tour friends 'meant a lot to me'

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 23, 2018, 11:54 pm

ATLANTA – As Tiger Woods approach the 18th green on Sunday at the Tour Championship, with thousands of fans – literally – breathing down his neck, Davis Love III crouched down inside the ropes, on top of a mound to take it all in. He was joined by Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson.

Rickie Fowler was waiting. Tommy Fleetwood was watching from the clubhouse balcony. Paul Casey was there. So, too, were Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas.

They all wanted to witness Woods win for the first time in five physically debilitating, at times personally destructive, years. They wanted to congratulate, not just a peer, but a friend.

What that meant to Woods, well, he tried to describe. But words don’t do justice what the support of others means to someone who has been through so much.

“The people who are close to me saw the struggles and what I was going through, and some of the players that I'm pretty close to, they've really helped throughout this process and the last few years,” Woods said. “Their support and some of those things that they said coming off that last green meant a lot to me.”


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Of course, all of these players have one thing in common: They are all headed to Paris for this Ryder Cup, either as players or vice captains.

There were 17 Ryder Cup players in the 30-man Tour Championship field – 11, including Woods, on the U.S. side.

The Americans were set to take a charter flight to France on Sunday night. That means everyone aboard will get to partake in the celebrations. And Tiger will get to enjoy the camaraderie, something lacking from the years when he won 79 PGA Tour events.

“Flying tonight with the guys, it’s going to be fun,” Woods said.

“I think we’re all going to sleep well.”