Saturday, September 02, 2017

  • Change to 12th at TPC Boston not to everyone's liking, but Dustin Johnson leads
  • NORTON, Massachusetts – Mother Nature had provided a gentle forecast – crisp, fall-like weather, temperatures reaching the low 70s – but being a veteran of 37 US PGA Tour seasons, Mark Russell suspected some turbulence would accompany Friday’s first round of the Dell Technologies Championship.
    There had been a drastic change to the par-4 12th at TPC Boston, and Russell, vice president of rules, competition and administration for the US Tour, had caught wind of player discontent. Some of it was loud, much of it animated, but all of it was met with Russell’s unmatched sense of calm.
    “Let’s just play four rounds of golf and see what we have,” Russell said.
    Well, after just one day, we have definitive proof that architect Gil Hanse has provided a much tougher 12th hole. When the day was done, the field average was 4.453; in the previous 14 years of this tournament, the average there was 4.064. Just three birdies were made in Round 1, as opposed to years 2003-16 when an average of 14.98 were made per round. And when it came to rank, No. 12 was the toughest hole Friday, compared to being on average 7.5 in past years.
    It’s just one-quarter of the way through the tournament, of course, and both Russell and Hanse have asked for a bigger pool of data. Players being players, however, many have already decided they don’t like the change. 
    Yet, heeding Russell’s call for a fair sample, Marc Leishman simply shrugged. He had to make a ticklish 5-footer to save par, but so be it. “I don’t really get into all that stuff,” the Aussie said of the controversy after his round of 4-under 67.
    In years past, No. 12 was roughly a 465-yard hole with a green tucked in behind an environmentally friendly hazard. True, it yielded its share of double-bogeys or higher (3.51 per round between 2003-16) and there were seven made Friday, but mostly the biggest change thus far is in the lack of scoring opportunities. 
    Indeed, it wasn’t the 12th that players had come to know, although Leishman seemed to understand the change. “In the past, it has been more (like) driver, wedge, or driver, 9-iron. But now, you’re going to be hitting longer irons in there.”
    But more than length (and while it can stretch to a 511-yard par 4, Friday it played at around 490), the new 12th features a bunker down the left that requires a 256-yard carry, and a big “Principal’s Nose” bunker down the right that can be reached at 305 yards.
    Therein lies one of the problems -- players conceded they hadn’t yet figured out the hole and so decisions were all over the map. Adam Scott hit 3-wood, 7-iron and made par; Gary Woodland hit 2-iron, 4-iron, made bogey and seemed to admit he was confounded; Louis Oosthuizen hit 4-wood, 4-iron and made bogey by missing the green short; and Thomas stayed with a game plan to hit a big, high sweeping draw into the 13th fairway, from where he still had a 190-yard second shot.
    He made par but said, “I still don’t like the hole.”
    Colleagues who might have agreed with Thomas weren’t about to adopt his game plan, however. Not when the penalty for not hitting a big, high sweeping drive was trouble with trees and then a possible second shot up and over more trees. And not when quality players such as Scott (3-wood, 201-yard approach, two putts from 50 feet), Rory McIlroy (3-wood, 214-yard approach, two putts from 12 feet), and tournament leader Dustin Johnson (3-wood, 6-iron, two putts from 60 feet) showed that the hole wasn’t impossible.
    Hanse was on-site Thursday and faced the players. So often they have sung his praises, but this time there is criticism. Like a man, he listened, but he also agreed with Russell. Give it time.
  • Since at approximately 300 yards the fairway slopes steeply downward, the play is to carry the left bunker but hit your drive up on the plateau.
  • Kevin Na made the only morning birdie, from 29 feet, while Grayson Murray (18 feet) and Kevin Kisner (12) converted splendid approaches in the afternoon. A miserly 25.26 percent of the field found the green in regulation.
  •  “I just play what we’re given. That’s what we’ve been given this week, so just play on it and do as good as I can. It was one of the better holes. You don’t need to change it,” said Justin Thomas, who seemed to have support from other vocal peers.

US PGA tournament leaderboard
66 D Johnson
67 K Stanley, M Leishman, S Garcia, J Rahm.
68 K Na, J Blixt, L List, G Murray, B Harman.

71 I Poulter (T30)
72 R Knox, R McIlroy, J Rose (T42)
74 M Laird (T69)





Post a Comment

<< Home

Copyright © Colin Farquharson

If you can't find what you are looking for.... please check the Archive List or search this site with Google