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2007 PGA Championship Preview

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The 89th installment of the PGA Championship starts this Thursday at Southern Hills Golf Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Southern Hills will be the first course to host four PGA Championships, and this tremendous track has also played host to three U.S. Opens.

The 7131 yard, par 70, is not the longest of the major championship courses, but it will still present a stern test to the competitors.  Some are saying that this week’s event, with its difficult rough, tree lined fairways, sloped and slanted greens, as well as the intangible factor of the Oklahoma summer heat, all make Southern Hills one of the toughest sites of the year.  Despite all these factors, Phil Mickelson appears to be an early fan of the set up this week, "I think it’s one of the best set-ups we’ve seen," said the 2005 PGA champion, who visited Southern Hills recently. "The rough is such that you might have a shot at the green or be able to do something with it. It’s going to help to separate the players who are playing well because you can hit some shots instead of just everybody getting the same result (and having to chop out)."

 The PGA Championship is known for some great finishes and great storylines; this week should be no different.  Take 1991 where a virtual unknown, John Daly, burst onto the golf scene and bombed his way around Crooked Stick and into the hearts of golf fans all over the world.  Or there is possibly the greatest final shot in major championship history; Shaun Micheel’s stone cold seven iron to one inch, on the 72nd hole, to clinch his first major victory.  Then there were the back to back battles in 1999 and 2000.  In ’99, Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods wowed the fans in at Medinah, with a battle that was not only memorable and impressive, but extremely fun to watch as well.  Golf shots that amazed even the savviest of golf connoisseurs, the ’99 Medinah PGA Championship final round was nothing short of spectacular. Then just the next year in 2000, during his dominating stretch, Tiger Woods was nearly humbled by Bob May, a PGA tour journeyman, who played some of the best golf of his life and let us bear witness to one of the greatest duels in major golf history.  This week has the potential to be all of those things and more, as the world’s greatest players are not only competing, but coming to Southern Hills firing on all cylinders. 

 Fresh off of a dominating performance, Tiger Woods has to be the favorite this week.  His work last week at the world golf championships is showing us two things.  One, Tiger is back and playing some of the golf we had become used to seeing from him.   Second he is sending a message to the rest of the golfers that he is primed and ready to capture his next major and get one closer to Jack’s total.  Even though he has been 0 for 3 this year at the majors, he seems to be taking it in stride, “You never want to be shut out," Woods said at the Bridgestone at Firestone Country Club. "You never want to have a year where you don’t win a major championship. This year, I’ve come close in two, and it just didn’t happen. I’ve been in this situation before."  That is not a good mindset for the world number one to have when it comes to the rest of the field.  Tiger typically achieves what he sets his mind to, and if he is gunning to not be shut out, some of the other players are going to have to step up this week and give him a run for his money.

 Players to watch this week should include Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Zach Johnson, Scott Verplank, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, and Sergio Garcia.  All of these players have been playing well as of late and come into the last major looking to tame Southern Hills and last weeks winner, Tiger Woods.  Each has something to prove, but Garcia has the largest monkey on his back right now, after his defeat at the Open Championship.  "It’s been getting better every day," said Garcia. "The first day was really tough, but my head is starting to go a little bit more where I want it to be. I’m hitting the ball well and rolling the putter nicely. It’s just a matter of getting it going.”  Only time will tell if he is completely healed from his wounds that were caused at the Open Championship, one can only wish him some luck.  Hunter Mahan on the other hand is coming into this event brimming with confidence, "You realize, ‘I’m also here to win,’" Mahan said. "I’m here because I can win. And I’m stepping on that tee with a purpose to do that. I’m not here to finish second to Tiger Woods."   You have to like to confidence, just might not want to give Tiger any fuel to get himself even more fired up.  The other above mentioned players all come in playing well, and if they are on top of their game could give Tiger the best run for his money. 

Another interesting aspect of this tournament is the 20 PGA professionals that get to tee it up this week via qualifying through the National Club Professional Championship, or CPC as it is know to the pros.  This event allows the top 20 players to compete at Southern Hills and is the biggest event of the year for the club pros.  It is one of the only remnants of the deal between the PGA Tour and the PGA of America when they amicably split in 1968, due to the increasing popularity of the PGA tour and the issue of sharing the spotlight with the less popular club professionals.  One of the positives from that deal is the accommodation for a number of the club professionals to play in the PGA Championship, a small way to say thank you for all of that work that they do as a club professional.  Keep an eye out for Mike Small,  Erik Wolf,  Chip Sullivan, Ryan Benzel, Tim Thelen, and Butch Sheehan, just to mention a few of the great players that will have the chance to tee it up this week inside the ropes. 

Past winners at Southern Hills include, Dave Stockton (winner of the PGA 1970), Raymond Floyd (winner of the PGA in 1982), Nick Price (winner of the PGA in 1994), Timmy Bolt (winner of the US Open in 1958), Hubert Green (winner of the US Open in 1977), and Retief Goosen (winner of the US Open in 2001).  As you can see there is a varied bunch of winners at Southern Hills, which helps reveal some of its charm and luster.  Anyone can win at this golf course, and that is partly why it is exciting.  It is a fair golf course, where great shots are rewarded.  The winner this week will have all of his skills tested, and he will be the one that handles all of the factors, including the heat, better than anyone else.  Who is going to come out on top?  No one will be able to tell you until Sunday afternoon, but I can tell you that it will be exciting watching all the drama unfold, and find out who the PGA champion, and final major winner for 2007. 

Television Times

  • Thursday, August 9   TNT      2PM – 8PM ET
  • Friday, August 10       TNT      2PM – 8PM ET
  • Saturday, August 11   TNT     11AM – 2PM ET
  • Saturday, August 11   CBS     2PM – 7PM
  • Sunday, August 12     TNT     11AM – 2PM ET
  • Sunday, August 12     CBS     2PM – 7PM

 

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,125 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen and more.

Last year, Keith Mitchell canned a 15-footer on the 72nd hole, outlasting Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka.

Check out all our galleries below, along with highlights from PGA National.

General galleries

Special galleries

Vijay Singh using custom Mizuno MP-20 irons with lofts modified enough they had to stamp new numbers. Link to his full WITB

Camilo Villegas with old-school Air Jordans

Close up of Tommy Fleetwood’s putting grip

Luke Donald with a new putting training aid

LA Golf has a couple of new shafts

Brooks Kopeka with his pink and white Nike Air Zoom Infinity Tour shoes

Odyssey Stroke Lab Ten with new sightlines.  Link to galleries and discussion

Kevin Streelman is a huge Chicago Cubs fan, so he went to a spring training game and had the players sign his staff bag (to be fair, he probably took just the panel and not the whole bag)

Jim Furyk has gone back to his standard length putter and cross-handed after trying the arm-lock style for a while.

Kyle Stanley’s coach is taking a worm’s-eye view of Kyle’s alignment and stroke.

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Morning 9: Koepka talks golf | Tiger’s Champions Dinner menu | Tour caddies and hot seats

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1. Koepka talks golf
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…The former World No. 1 – who now sits third behind Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm – opened up in great detail in a profile in GQ about what he would change about the game of golf, a sport that he truly loves despite some outside perception.
  • “One thing I’d change is maybe the stuffiness,” said Koepka, who’s never viewed himself as just a golfer. “Golf has always had this persona of the triple-pleated khaki pants, the button-up shirt, very country club atmosphere, where it doesn’t always have to be that way. That’s part of the problem.”
  • ...”Everybody always says, ‘You need to grow the game.’ Well, why do you need to be so buttoned-up? ‘You have to take your hat off when you get in here.’ ‘You’re not allowed in here unless you’re a member – or unless the member’s here.’…
  • …”I just think people confuse all this for me not loving the game. I love the game. I absolutely love the game,” said Koepka. “I don’t love the stuffy atmosphere that comes along with it. That, to me, isn’t enjoyable.”

Full piece.

2. Fajitas and sushi
“Being born and raised in SoCal, having fajitas and sushi was a part of my entire childhood, and I’m going back to what I had in 2006,” Woods said. “So, we’ll have steak and chicken fajitas, and we’ll have sushi and sashimi out on the deck, and I hope the guys will enjoy it.”
  • “Woods also said he’s considering serving milkshakes for desert like he did during the 1998 dinner.”
  • “That was one of the most great memories to see Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead having milkshakes that night in ’98,” he said.”

Full piece.

3. Why a tour caddie is always on the hot seat 
The Undercover Tour Caddie writeth again…“I’ve been lucky to partner with 18 players on the PGA and developmental tours, four of which were longtime appointments. I’ve also been fired 17 times-and among my friends, that’s on the low end of the spectrum…”
  • “The majority of the time, the breakups are amicable and done in person. I consider myself friends with almost all the players I’ve worked for, and though there were some strong emotions from both sides when it came time to disband, I get it. This is a business, and they’re making a business decision. Plus, you don’t want to burn any bridges. I’ve had two guys toss me aside after a month’s work, only for them to circle back within the year, one of which ended up sticking for five seasons.”
  • “There have been callous splits. In the early 2000s, I was trying to get my guy to hit an 8-iron on an approach at the 71st hole. He was adamant that 9 was the play. I strongly, but respectfully, said he needed to club up. He went with the 9; his ball came up short of the green, and he couldn’t get up and down. That bogey dropped us out of the top 10. He fired me after signing his card, claiming he needed someone “who has faith in me.” Hey, I had faith-faith that his 9 was the wrong club.”

Full piece.

4. The best part of Tiger’s Masters win…
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”Last April at Augusta National Golf Club, behind the 18th green, after tapping in for a one-stroke victory and fifth Masters triumph, there were hugs all around, none sweeter than those from his daughter and son.”
  • “I think what made it so special is that they saw me fail the year before at the British Open. I had gotten the lead there and made bogey, double, and ended up losing to Francesco,” Woods said. “To have them experience what it feels like to be part of a major championship and watch their dad fail and not get it done, and now to be a part of it when I did get it done, I think it’s two memories that they will never forget. And the embraces and the hugs and the excitement, because they know how I felt and what it felt like when I lost at Carnoustie … to have the complete flip with them in less than a year, it was very fresh in their minds.”
  • “It’s a long and rambling thought, and totally justified in the context of all the emotion woven into the two experiences. Some things are just difficult to express cogently, and the struggle with doing so only underscores their impact.”
5. Dream of Coul is dead
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”Coul Links was supposed to be Scotland’s next great links golf course. Envisioned to be built by Coore-Crenshaw on a protected wildlife site in Embo on dunes near Dornoch, those hopes took a serious blow on Feb. 21, when the Scottish government denied planning permission for a project spearheaded by golf course developer Mike Keiser.”
  • “I’m moving on. I have so many other projects,” Keiser tells The Forecaddie. “God bless Dornoch.”
  • “In its decision notice, Scottish Ministers determined that the proposed development would adversely affect the local environment, stating in their findings that the “likely detriment to natural heritage is not outweighed by the socio-economic benefits of the proposal.”
6. Koepka: Great round of golf with Trump
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…“In a profile in GQ, Koepka…talked about a recent round with President Trump…Koepka, his father, younger brother Chase and President Trump “had a blast” at Trump’s course in West Palm Beach.”
  • “It was nice to have my family there, my dad, my brother. Anytime it’s with a president, it’s pretty cool,” said Koepka. “I don’t care what your political beliefs are, it’s the President of the United States. It’s an honor that he even wanted to play with me.”
  • “I respect the office, I don’t care who it is,” added Koepka. “Still probably the most powerful man in the entire world. It’s a respect thing.”

Full piece.

7. Tiger on lengthening Augusta National 
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport…”Augusta National has been at the forefront of trying to keep it competitive, keep it fair, keep it fun, and they’ve been at the forefront of lengthening the golf course,” Woods said. “Granted, they have the property and they can do virtually whatever they want. They have complete autonomy. It’s kind of nice.
  • “But also they’ve been at the forefront of trying to keep it exciting as the game has evolved. We have gotten longer, equipment changed, but they’ve been trying to keep it so the winning score is right around the 12- to 18-under-par mark, and they have.”
8. Inside the Bear Trap
Golf Channel Digital team…“Here’s a look at some of the notable Bear Trap stats according to the PGA Tour (all figures since 2007, when the tournament moved to PGA National):”
  • “Among non-majors, the Bear Trap ranks as the third-toughest three-hole stretch on Tour at 0.644 over par on average. It’s behind only Nos. 16-18 at Quail Hollow (+0.873) and Nos. 8-10 at Pebble Beach (+0.673).”
  • “The Honda Classic field is a combined 3,629 over par across the Bear Trap and 4,934 over par across the other 15 holes at PGA National.”
  • “543 different players have played at least one competitive round at the Honda since 2007, with 76 percent (415) of them hitting at least one ball in the water on the Bear Trap.”

Full piece.

9. San Diego muni renovations (including Torrey)
Jason Lusk of Golfweek…“San Diego’s city council has allotted $15 million for upgrades and renovations to the city’s three municipally operated golf facilities including Torrey Pines’ South Course, site of the 2021 U.S. Open, according to a report Tuesday by the San Diego Union-Tribune.”
  • “…The $15 million approved Monday by the city council also will include contract work at San Diego’s other municipally operated golf facilities at Balboa Park and Mission Bay, the Union-Tribune reported. The courses will remain open during the jobs that include installing new irrigation systems and drainage, replacing and repairing cart paths, renovating bunkers and tree work.”

 

*featured image via Augusta National/the Masters

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Tour Rundown

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@asiapacgolfgrp

Only two of the world’s featured tours were in action this week, but the golf that they provided was memorable and historic. Not the type of historic that you find in school books, but certainly the type that golf aficionados point to, down the road. On the one hand, a prodigious yet poliarizing talent demonstrated complete control down the stretch, during his march to a 2nd World Golf Championship victory. On the other, a precocious competitor joined into a talented triumvirate with a marvelous birdie at the last, to secure an inaugural PGA Tour championship.Tuesday Tour Rundown is back, for this week only!

WGC-Mexico flies away in the hands of Patrick Reed 

Golf Twitter, depending on your perspective, is either entertaining or inflamatory. As happens in the world today, people take sides. In the case of Patrick Reed, that’s not difficult. One either forgives (or denies) Reed’s free interpretation (on multiple occasions) of the rules and their enforcement, or one preserves a disregard for a leading player who simply doesn’t act like one. What isn’t up for debate, is Reed’s seizure of this week’s World Golf Championship in Mexico. What looked for so long like a Bryson-DeChambaeau win, ultimately stowed away in Patrick Reed’s check-on pouch.

The tournament came down to the aforementioned duo. Both Jon Rahm and Erik Van Rooyen swam along the margin, but neither made enough of a Sunday move to figure in the outcome. Both, in fact, tied for 3rd place, 2 back of DeChambeau and 3 behind the champion. Bryson and his on-display muscles barged out of the 10th-hole gate like a man (and muscles) on a mission. Birdies at 4 of the first 5 holes on the inward half, staked him to a 2-shot advantage. Over the closing four, however, the magic went away, and a bogey at the penultimate hole brought him back to 17-under par.

Reed looked like a man playing for second. His long game was nothing exceptional, but his putter kept him afloat, time and again. And then, whatever DeChambeau had in his water bottle, came over to Reed. Birdies at 15, 16 and 17 suddenly brought the 2-shot advantage to the 2018 Masters champion. Even the cough of an expectorant fan, mid-backswing on the 18th, was not enough to convulse the champion. A closing bogey made the margin closer than it was, and Reed jumped from 33rd to 5th in the FedEx Cup standings.

PGA Tour Puerto Rico is Viktor Hovland’s debut decision

It wasn’t as mauling as Tyson Fury’s technical decision over Deontay Wilder, but Viktor Hovland and Josh Teater came down the stretch in Puerto Rico, like a pair of pugilists. The young Norwegian, Hovland, was pitted against the career grinder, Teater. First it was the veteran, with 3 birdies on the opening nine, to reach minus-19. Hovland chipped away, with a birdie at 5, and a 2nd at 10. And then, Teater hit Hovland with a right-cross (or Hovland hit himself with a sucker punch; you make the call.) Triple bogey! A startling six at the 11th, dropped Hovland into a tie with Teater (bogeys of his own on 10 and 11) who now had new life … and new pressure.

To his credit, Teater didn’t back down. He made birdies at 15 and 17, to recoup the lost shots at the turn. Unfortunately for him, tour victory the first would have to wait. Hovland, the Oklahoma State alumnus, made a sensational eagle at the 15th, to counter Teater’s birdie, and reclaim the advantage. The pair reached the 18th tee, a par five, all square, and it was there that Hovland dealt the final thrust. He took every bit of break out of a 25-feet birdie putt, and banged it into the hole. With the win, Hovland joined Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa as anticipated winners who actually won. Now comes the hard part: winning again and reaching a new echelon of champion.

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