Punch Shots: Best PGA Tour venue to play this year

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 9, 2013, 2:23 am

With the PGA Tour kicking off this week at CordeValle, we asked our travel experts which public-access course on the 2013-14 schedule is the best.

Jason Deegan: CordeValle Golf Club

It’s too bad that the CordeValle drops off the PGA TOUR calendar next year. The 7,360-yard course has hosted the Frys.com Open since 2010, but the event will move to the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa in 2014. Be sure to check out this year’s telecast because it might be the last time CordeValle gets primetime coverage before the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open comes to northern California.

CordeValle, which kicks off the new 2013-14 season on the PGA TOUR this week, continues to fly under the radar as a golf getaway. Too many golfers drive by on their way to the Monterey Peninsula not realizing just what their missing in the secluded hills of San Martin 30 miles south of San Jose. The Robert Trent Jones Jr. design and the villas of the Rosewood Resort seem to melt into the scenic pastoral surroundings without intruding upon them. They’re both understated, yet luxurious at the same time. Jones’ yawning bunkers and tricky greens are superb. A meandering stream and several ponds don’t typically bother the pros, although they’re plenty in play for everybody else. Caddies (or a forecaddie) are required, an extra expense that is worth it.

With world-class dining and a sumptuous spa to boot, there’s no resort that embodies ‘California cool’ better than CordeValle.

More: Golf shines in NoCal and CordeValle

Brandon Tucker: Pinehurst No. 2

In 2014, Pinehurst No. 2 is delivering a rare mix of history mixed with anticipation for the new. It's already the year's most talked about venue as Phil Mickelson will pursue his agonizing quest to win a U.S. Open. Also, Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw's restoration of sandy waste areas and the fact the U.S. Women's Open will be staged just a week later gives this century-old course plenty of new buzz. 

For us amateurs, No. 2 is a little bit more playable for the regular golfer than some other PGA TOUR staples like TPC Sawgrass, which can eat your lunch if your game is off. Pinehurst, on the other hand, is manageable with a good iron game and deft wedges. Fairways are quite wide, so even if you're not in the mayor's office off the tee, you still have a chance to reach the green.

How you recover from the new native areas and how good is your short game around the table-top greens will determine whether you have a score to remember or if some parts of game become exposed.

Also, no place on this year's schedule is a golfer's mecca quite like the Village of Pinehurst. The village has little pubs, B&Bs, great restaurants and memorabilia shops, all walkable and shaded by tall Carolina pines. Frankly, Pinehurst is worth a visit even if you don't pony up the cash for No. 2.

In Photos: View the golf courses open to the public on the 2013-14 PGA TOUR Schedule

Mike Bailey: Torrey Pines Golf Course

The best golf course you can play on the PGA Tour schedule is Pebble Beach Golf Links, hands down (AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Feb. 6-9). It's one of three courses - including Augusta National and The Old Course at St. Andrews - that should be on every golfer's bucket list.

But just behind Pebble for many of the same reasons – history, setting and design – are the two golf courses at Torrey Pines, both of which are used for the Farmers Insurance Open, Jan. 23-26 near San Diego (we can add best golf weather in America, too). This is the same venue where Tiger Woods won his last major, the 2008 U.S. Open playoff win over Rocco Mediate. It came on the Rees Jones-renovated Torrey Pines South Course, where Woods defeated Mediate by one shot in a Monday 18-hole playoff. Both the South Course and North Course were designed by William P. Bell and his son William F. Bell, but what really attracts golfers are the views of the Pacific Ocean.

The North probably has better vistas, but there are plenty on both layouts. One of my favorites is the downhill par-3 sixth hole on the North Course, which plays right into the ocean and often two or three clubs shorter because of the drop in elevation.

Because Torrey is a municipal, locals can play the courses for next to nothing, but out-of-towners will have to pay green fees north of $200. In either case, with a little perseverance, you can get a tee time and experience these two gems. They are well worth the money.

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

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.

Getty Images

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.