Fun Stuff To Look For At Southern Hills

2007pgalogo.gifHopefully all you need to know about Southern Hills and this week's fascinating setup can be found in my Golf World story along with the photos below. I can't state enough what a great transformation this course has seen in recent years with tree removal and trimming, bunker renovation and the return of short grass throughout the course.

In discussing how great the short grass areas looked, PGA course setup guru Kerry Haigh told me, "you should have seen it when they first put the sod down." He said the tight cut throughout the property looked tremendous, and I wonder if it influenced his decision to start the week with extremely modest 2 3/4 inch rough, which I believe will only get players into more trouble if they try to get cute in going for Perry Maxwell's greens.

Anyhow, here a few of the course setup highlights. You know the drill, click on the images to see the full version.

The first image is of No. 3 green and shows the Royal Melbourne/Augusta pre-second cut look that you will see this week. If they can avoid some big downpours, I think you'll see some approach shots spin off the front of greens and down the fronting slopes thanks in large part to the elimination of the rough and intermediate cuts in these approach areas.

No. 3 (click to enlarge)

The next images are of the par-3 6th. The first is the tee view and the second is taken from the green rear with the par-4 7th in the background. From this angle you are looking back at the green and the area that I hope is used for Sunday's back left hole location. The newly shaved bank and tree removal have really livened this hole up.  

No. 6 (click image to enlarge)

No. 6 (click to enlarge)

While walking the course with superintendent Russ Myers we approached No. 7 green and I was so caught up in the conversation that I didn't even remember until a few holes later that I had been standing on a new Keith Foster green. Foster replaced a Robert Trent Jones "look at me I'm RTJ special" that stuck out like a sore thumb. I'd like to think my failure to notice the change upon stepping onto Foster's channeling of Maxwell means he did a magnificent job fitting it in. Or I'm just losing my mind. One of the two. And look for balls missing the green right to roll down and into the creek. Viewed from right of the green:

No. 7 (click to enlarge)
The next image shows the new look cut leading into the fairway bunkers, which I wrote about in the Golf World story. Haigh envisioned this for Southern Hills, with the hope of tempting players to flirt with the fairway bunkers. I think the effect will work and even sucker a few more drivers and 3-woods off the tee, which is needed since too many players hit irons off tees like this one during the 2001 U.S. Open.

No. 9 (click to enlarge)
The par-3 11th features a new chipping area left that features a 15-foot drop off, radically altering this short par-3. This view is taken from the walk toward the 12th tee. 

No. 11 (click to enlarge)
The famous par-4 12th also features the tighter cut up to the fairway bunker and this great looking short grass area fronting the creek bank. If they can manage to not get rain and this firms up at all, the second shot here from any kind of iffy lie becomes frightening. Once again, a great example of short grass adding interesting and difficulty where there was once rough.
No. 12 (click to enlarge)
And perhaps my favorite change comes on the par-4 18th where Haigh widened the landing area out so that drives drifting right will now have a recovery shot around the tall trees, whereas last time the best were at Southern Hills, they were hacking out of tall stuff. I think the chance to recover will only get some in more trouble, but as I wrote in the Golf World story, we should see a few really fun slicing recovery shots here.

No. 18 (click to enlarge)

Tuesday's PGA Championship Clippings

2007pgalogo.gifJust a quick weather update from the place where the PGA Championship sure as hell won't return in my lifetime: 75 today with little puffs of fog floating in and out and a nice steady sea breeze starting around 11. No chance of thunderstorms. Enjoy Tulsa! Oh, and stay away from that shrimp dish in the Marriott restaurant. Deadly.

Sam Weinman says he lasted 30 minutes before the heat was too much and reports that Tiger was off at 6 am the day after winning at Firestone the previous day and was done by 11. Now that's impressive! Of course, he also looked like he was about to pass out in the photo posted.aug6_tigerconf_372x400.jpg

Brett Avery looks at how temperature impacts ball flight and also shares this list of the hottest majors. Let's hope the Golf World gang updates this list after Sunday to let us know where this year's PGA would have landed on the list.

The strongest field in major championship got uh, well, less strong with the WD's of Carl Pettersson and Jason Bohn.  Unfortunately, it sounds like Jim Furyk may be joining them next.

Gary Van Sickle looks at possible President's Cup lineups, in case you care.

bandofbrothers150.jpgDon't miss Ron Whitten's excellent story on the "band of brothers" who help out at majors. Accompanying the piece was some really nice art (left).

And finally, Grant Hall is upset at the pre-PGA coverage blasting Southern Hills. Obviously he doesn't get Golf World!

Getting In the Mood For Southern Hills

2007pgalogo.gifIf you are not attending, this ought to brighten your mood. Hope that air conditioning works in the media center!

My Golf World story looking at the vastly improved golf course has been posted. I'll elaborate more tomorrow with photos and thoughts. I know you can't wait.

SI's pithy anonymous pro has all sorts of interesting things to say about Tiger, drug testing, Tulsa and his pick, Jim Furyk.

230136-953409-thumbnail.jpgJohn Huggan talked to former Tulsa resident and current Tiger coach Hank Haney about Southern Hills: 

"Southern Hills is in just about the best shape a golf course can be in," agrees Haney, who graduated from the University of Tulsa and knows the course well. "The greens and fairways are perfect and the rough isn't too deep. Players will be able to at least advance the ball when they miss a fairway.

"The course has been lengthened too, but it is still a place where good play will produce a good score. I liken it to the British Open in that the winning score hasn't been predetermined. It won't suit any particular type of player either. There are only two par-5s and one of them is 655-yards long, so the long-hitters won't have a big advantage. A lot of guys will have a chance to win.

"Which is as it should be. The course will play much better than it did in 2001, with the PGA setting it up rather than the USGA. The PGA knows how to set up a golf course."

John Strege profiles Anthony Kim, who went to Oklahoma and apparently grew up with The Great Santini:
Say this for Kim, at least: He isn’t afraid of imposing figures. History is his witness. He won a battle of wills with any boy’s most daunting opponent—a ruthlessly demanding father, who in Kim’s case often reduced him to tears, once by pretending to discard a trophy he had won with an over-par score. Dethroning Tiger might seem the easier challenge.

Kim quit speaking to his father for the better part of two years. Given his reputation for running his mouth, this showed extraordinary discipline, the kind Paul Kim used to demand of his son. The irony would not have amused Paul; the pain cut too deep. It still does. “I was so sad,” he says now. “I was wrong.”

Their estrangement ended in December, the day Anthony earned his PGA Tour card. Moments after the Tour Qualifying Tournament ended (he tied for 13th), he made the short drive from PGA West to his parents’ home in La Quinta, Calif. The family’s group hug lasted 10 minutes.

Jeff Billington and Michael Overall of the Tulsa World says the PGA will bring $60 million to the local coffers. 

Finally, the Golf World guys make their picks and I like Bomb's pick of Tim Clark and Rosaforte's selection of Stewart Cink.

Skill and Southern Hills

From Doug Ferguson's AP notes column:

“I don’t mind Mother Nature slapping us around as long as they understand skill is the thing that wins tournaments, not luck.” -Stuart Appleby, on the setups at major championships

Having just toured Southern Hills on a delightful day in Tulsa (really!), I can say that it would be nice if Mother Nature cooperated by not dropping so much water on the course. Due to a number of circumstances (which I'll be writing about for a publication in advance of the PGA), Southern Hills really has a chance to shine this year...if it would stop raining!