You can see for miles at Raven Golf Club at Verrado west of Phoenix

By Travel ArticlesNovember 15, 2012, 5:00 am

BUCKEYE, Ariz. -- Like every other course on the west side of the Valley of the Sun, the staff at Raven Golf Club at Verrado spends a lot of time telling golfers it's not that far from Phoenix.

And then, they can show them.

'There's no other golf course in the valley that has the same easterly view as we have,' said Doug Foss, the longtime manager of sales and marketing and an enthusiastic ambassador for the 7,258-yard setup. 'There's a bunch of other golf courses way on the east side that look back to the west, but we're the only golf course on this side that enjoys those kind of views.

'From the third tee-box, you can see all the way downtown. You can see Cardinal Stadium. You can see, on a good clear day, all the way to Four Peaks mountains way out on the east side of town. And then on the 13th green and 14th tee-box, which is the highest point on the golf course, you can see forever. It's awesome.'

For those keeping track, it takes about 35 minutes to put Phoenix in the rear view mirror en route to the Raven Golf Club at Verrado and approximately the same amount of time -- or even a few minutes less, if you keep your ball on the short stuff -- to climb up to the third tee and catch another glimpse of the downtown skyline.

Raven Golf Club at Verrado: The course

Opened in 2004, the Raven at Verrado is the centerpiece of an 8,800-acre community at the base of the White Tank Mountains. This topsy-turvy tract of land was once owned by Caterpillar and used as proving grounds for bulldozers, scrapers and other pieces of machinery.

The last men to move earth on the site were co-designers John Fought and 1996 British Open champion Tom Lehman, and the finished product has earned all sorts of accolades, including a spot on the best-in-state list from almost every major golf publication.

In Arizona, that's saying something. It's a challenge just getting raters out of Scottsdale to the Raven at Verrado, where the only traffic you'll hear is the occasional roar of F-16s from nearby Luke Air Force Base.

'We're their final approach pattern, so they have to come right over us,' Foss said. 'Especially for folks who don't play here a lot, it's a cool effect, because you don't really get to see fighter jets that close on a regular basis.'

The first F-16 might startle you as it zips across the sky, but the battleground below doesn't have to be so scary.

On the 397-yard second hole, which might be the best on the property, golfers can choose between a knee-knocking approach over a ravine or a risk-free bailout just right of the putting surface.

On the 477-yard eighth assignment, marked by a massive rock outcropping that survived the Caterpillar era, the landing area isn't nearly as far off as it might seem from the tee.

Even the 154-yard 17th hole, with water guarding the right side of the dance-floor, has an alternate route for high-handicappers or folks with a limited amount of ammo in their bag.

'Although it's a desert layout, it doesn't really play like a desert golf course,' Foss said. 'Sometimes, I think people get a little scared or put off by the term 'desert golf,' because they think you have to hit a perfect shot every time. When Tom Lehman designed the place -- because he really loves the British Open feel and being able to hit different types of shots and that includes running the ball up -- he wanted to give people an opportunity to do that.'

There is a full practice area at Raven at Verrado, and instruction is available.

Raven Golf Club at Verrado: The verdict

If you have a thick wallet or a fat bank account, there's probably no reason to leave Scottsdale city limits on your Arizona golf getaway. If value is important, though, Raven Golf Club at Verrado should be on your list of must-plays.

Unless it's prime time in peak season, you'll probably need to purchase a hat, a glove or a sleeve of balls to coax your pro-shop receipt into triple digits.

And what about the cost of fuel for your commute to this picturesque part of the valley? Shouldn't be an issue, as long as your rental vehicle isn't an 18-wheeler.

'Especially for people who have never been here before, the comment usually is, 'It certainly is worth the drive, and -- you know what? -- the drive wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be,'' Foss said.

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Stricker shares first-round lead in South Dakota

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:48 am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Steve Stricker shot a 7-under 63 on Friday to share the first-round lead at the Sanford International.

The 51-year-old Stricker was 8 under through 17 holes at chilly, rain-softened Minnehaha Country Club but closed with a bogey to fall into a tie with Jerry Smith, Brandt Jobe and David McKenzie.

Stricker only got to play seven holes in the pro-am because of rain that prevented the field from getting in much practice.

''You've just kind of got to trust your yardage book and hit to the spots and then try to make a good game plan on the way into the green, too, not really knowing where to hit it or where to miss it up there on the green. Sometimes it's good, too,'' Stricker said. ''You go around and you're focused a lot more on hitting it to a specific spot and not knowing what lies ahead in the course. So I guess today was the ultimate 'Take one hole at a time' because we didn't really know anything else, what was coming.''

Full-field scores from the Sanford International

Stricker has two wins and has not finished worse than fifth in six starts this season on the over-50 tour as he continues to play a part-time schedule on the PGA Tour. Next week, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants at the matches outside Paris.

McKenzie, a 51-year-old Australian, had two eagles on the back nine, holing a wedge from 116 yards on the par-5 16th.

''We got told ... to play faster on No. 16, and so my caddie just said, 'Hit it in the hole so you don't have to putt it,' so I just did what he told me,'' McKenzie said.

Smith had eagles on Nos. 4 and 12.

''Honestly, I was just trying to hit some good shots and I really wasn't with the irons,'' Smith said. ''I just really didn't like the way I hit them today. You know, just the putter was the big difference for me. I just felt good with it all day, especially say outside of 10, 15 feet, where I felt like I was a lot.''

Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen and Paul Goydos were one shot back. McCarron came in second in the Charles Schwab Cup money standings behind Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is not playing this week.

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Glover (64) leads Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:12 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover shot his second consecutive 7-under 64 on Friday to take a one-shot lead at the Tour Championship.

The 38-year-old Glover, who won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, can still regain his PGA Tour card through a medical extension if he fails to earn enough money in the four-tournament Tour Finals. But a high finish this weekend at Atlantic Beach Country Club would take care of everything.

''I've got a lot to fall back on regardless of this week, but any time I tee it up, I want to play well,'' Glover said. ''Tomorrow won't be any different. Sunday won't be any different.''

Glover had arthroscopic knee surgery in June and will have eight starts to earn 53 FedEx Cup points and keep his card. He earned $17,212 in the first three Tour Finals events. The top 25 money winners in the series earn PGA Tour cards, and the final card went for $40,625 last year.

Glover was at 14-under 128. Denny McCarthy, who has already earned enough money to secure a return to the PGA Tour, was one shot back. McCarthy, a former Virginia player, has a shot at winning the Finals money list, which would guarantee him fully exempt status and entry into The Players Championship.

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

''There's no secret about it. I'll come out and tell you I'm here to win this tournament and get that No. 1 spot,'' McCarthy said. ''I've been hungry for a while. I have a pretty hungry attitude and I'm going to stay hungry.''

Tour veteran Cameron Tringale, who has earned just $2,660 after missing two of the first three cuts, was 12 under after a 67. Last year, Tringale entered the Tour Championship at 63rd on the Finals money list and finished tied for fifth to get back onto the PGA Tour. He struggled again this season, though, missing 19 cuts in 26 starts.

''Yeah, I was hoping last year was my last time here, but I do have a comfort at this golf course and I'm excited to keep pressing,'' Tringale said.

The four-tournament series features the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top 25 finishers on the regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals.

Sepp Straka and Ben Silverman were three shots back. Each would likely need a top-5 finish to earn his card.

Peter Malnati, who regained his card with a second-place finish in the opening finals event, followed his opening-round 74 with a 9-under 62, shooting an 8-under 27 on his second nine.

Four-time PGA Tour winner Aaron Baddeley was among those who missed the cut. He was 22nd on the finals money list going in and likely will fall short of earning his card.

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Thomas (69) only three back with 'C' or 'D' game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTA – Justin Thomas was tied for fourth place following his second-round 69 on Friday at the Tour Championship, which considering the state of his game on Day 2 was an accomplishment.

“I wish I had my 'B' game today. I would say I had my 'C' or 'D' game today,” he laughed.

Thomas’ struggles were primarily with his driver and he hit just 6 of 14 fairways at East Lake, but he was able to scramble late in his round with birdies at Nos. 15 and 18 to remain three off the lead.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I drove it so poorly today, this is probably in my top 5 rounds of the year I'm most proud of just because I easily could have shot 4- or 5-over par today and not had a chance to win the tournament,” he said. “I hung in there and birdied two of the last four, and I have a chance.”

Thomas was slowed the last two weeks by a right wrist injury that limited his preparation for the finale and said the issue with his driver is timing and the byproduct of a lack of practice.

Thomas made up for his erratic driving with his short game, getting up and down four out of seven times including on the fourth hole when he missed the fairway well left, punched out short of the green and chipped in from 81 feet.

“[Rory McIlroy] just kind of said it looked like a ‘3’ the whole day and I kind of laughed because I played with him at The Players and I chipped in three times that first round with him, so I guess he's good luck for me,” Thomas said.

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McIlroy two behind Woods, Rose after 68

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:46 pm

ATLANTA – Maybe it should be no huge surprise that Rory McIlroy finds himself back in contention at the Tour Championship. It is, after all, a Ryder Cup year.

In 2016, McIlroy won the finale before heading to Hazeltine and posting a 3-2-0 record. In ’14, he finished runner-up to Billy Horschel and went 2-1-2 at the Ryder Cup; and in ’12 he finished tied for 10th place at East Lake and went 3-2-0 at Medinah.

“I was on such a high a couple of years ago going into Hazeltine after winning the whole thing, and I felt great about my game that week and played well. I won three matches,” McIlroy said. “I guess it doesn't matter whether it's a match play event or whatever. If you're playing well and you've played well the week before, I think most people can carry it into the next week, whatever that is.”

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

McIlroy’s performance this week certainly qualifies as “playing well.” He charged out on Friday with birdies at two of his first three holes and bounced back from a pair of late bogeys to shoot a 68 and was in third place and two strokes off the lead held by Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.

“I've made 12 birdies in 36 holes, which is really good around here, and that's with not birdieing either of the par 5s today,” he said. “So yeah, just tidy up the mistakes a little bit.”