Players Finding the Rough is Tough

Is extra length really the way to “Tiger-proof” a golf course. Growing the rough out may be a more effective, and fair, way to put the teeth back into many tour tracks.

Long RoughWhat’s good for the grass is looking to be bad for some of the biggest hitters on the PGA Tour. Thanks to a wet winter, many courses in Florida — Bay Hill and the TPC of Sawgrass in particular — are sporting some extra-thick, Velcro-like rough. Guess what? Mother Nature is doing a better job “Tiger-proofing” these golf courses than an army of bulldozers adding extra length.

Ever since Tiger Woods bombed his way to a dramatic victory at the 1997 Masters Tournament, golf courses that host PGA Tour events have been undergoing a ongoing attempt at becoming “Tiger-proofed.” In most cases, this has meant one thing: lengthening the golf course.

Tavistock Cup Preview

Led by Tiger Woods, Team Isleworth looks to follow up their 2004 victory over Team Nona with another one in 2005.

Tavistock CupNow that The Players Championship is finally over, it’s time to move onto another week in the golf world. But this week is somewhat unique, as many of the world’s elite golfers will head to Orlando instead of Atlanta to play in the 2005 Tavistock Cup. This year is special because the world’s second-best player, Tiger Woods, will participate! As a matter of fact, three of the top five players in the world rankings (Woods, Ernie Els, and Retief Goosen) will be playing alongside the best female golfer in the world, Annika Sorenstam.

A Funky Monday Finish at The Players Championship

Fred Funk outlasted, outwitted, and outplayed the others in The Players Championship to claim his sixth – and biggest – PGA Tour victory at 48.

Fred Funk Fist PumpThe funky weather led to a Funky winner: Fred Funk may have gone backwards in the final round, three-putting three times, but his efforts were good enough to secure a one-stroke victory in the funkiest Players Championship ever.

The former Maryland Terrapin golf coach birdied the par-5 sixteenth, landed his ball safely on the island green at the seventeenth, and got up and down from a greenside bunker – only yards away from the water – on the last hole, holing a five-footer for the save and the victory.

Volume Two

Cell phone rings annoy everyone, Nike to run our government, Annika get’s a handful, Asian influx on the LPGA and I think I broke my TV after last week’s Big Break III.

A little birdie told me that the guys at The Players Championship (not to be confused with the Playa’s Championship) were hoping Monday’s play was cancelled, as they knew volume two of Hittin’ the Links would be arriving in their web browser or RSS aggregator of choice. They’re anxious to see what we’ve selected for this week’s edition. So, all you guys playing poker in the locker room, count your chips and take a break, cause here’s volume two.

The Tournament that Would Not End

The Players Championship is going to finish on Monday. Or maybe Tuesday. Or maybe it’ll just merge with the Bellsouth Classic? Who nows?

TPC @ SawgrassWe wrote a preview of The Players Championship nearly a week ago. Players have yet to complete even 40 holes. The TPC at Sawgrass has seen a lot of weather and fans have seen very little golf. Even a Monday finish seems unlikely – we may be looking at a Tuesday finish before a champion is crowned.

Luke Donald, currently leading at -11, played all of nine holes on Sunday: six to complete his second round, and three more in his third before the all-too-familiar horn blew, signalling the end of play. He shares the 39-ish hole lead with journeyman Joe Durant. Tim Herron, defending champ Adam Scott, Lee Westwood, and Zach Johnson sit one stroke back.

Sorenstam Grabs First Major of 2005

Annika took the plunge into Champion’s Lake today after a triumphant final round at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

annika_sorenstam_nabisco_trophy.jpgComfortable and smiling throughout her round, Annika masterfully closed the door on several of the top veterans of the LPGA, playing a 7-shot lead heading into the back nine! Sorenstam paced herself on the final nine, birdied the 11th and made par on the balance of the holes coming in at 15-under par for a final round of 68 .Taking dead aim and with a full release on every shot, the 34-year-old swede could not be stopped.

Even though most professionals play it safe when in the lead to ensure a win, Annika went for the par-5 18th in two with a 2-wood, flying the water and landing safely on the green. She three-putted for an easy par. Winning this tournament for the third time, Sorenstam also tied Nancy Lopez’s record of five victories in her last five events. In fact, in 217 LPGA events, Annika has missed only four cuts – surprisingly enough – all in majors. After celebrating her victory and climbing from the pond, Annika remarked, “I had good momentum, I’m very excited… there are so many prestigious names on this trophy… I couldn’t ask for a better start to the season.”

Wiratchant Wins Innaugural Indonesia Open

Colin Montgomerie fires a final-round 60, but it’s not enough to crack the top 50 in the world or to beat Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant.

wiratchant_indonesia.jpgColin Montgomerie has failed to make this year’s Masters; however, he didn’t go down without a fight. Monty shot a final-round 60, including nine straight birdies to finish in a tie for fourth. Montgomerie could have shot a 59, but instead left a 10-foot birdie putt short on his final hole.

Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant joins Thongchai Jaidee as the second Thai to win on the European Tour. Wiratchant finished at 25-under to win the Indonesia Open, which was jointly sponsored by the the European and Asian Tours. Wiratchant shot a third round 66 and final round 63, his third round of -7 of the week.

Sorenstam Dominates at Nabisco

With five strokes separating her from the competition, can anyone start the day tomorrow believing they can beat Annika?

Annika @ The NabiscoScoring early in the third round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship with birdies on 2,3,7 and 8, Annika Sorenstam never looked back. Two more birdies on 12 and 15 gave her a final score of 66. Poised for her 59th career win and averaging over 271 yards off the tee this week, the 34-year-old swede is on her way to winning her eighth major title. And, comparatively speaking, with over $16 million in earnings to date, Sorenstam would rank 16th on the PGA Tour Money List.

Playing with Annika today was 45-year-old veteran Rosie Jones who is contemplating retirement at the end of this season. Although a co-leader yesterday, Jones could not match Sorenstam. With a birdie putt at 11 to get her to 6-under-par, Jones gave back a stroke at 13, narrowly missed her birdie putt at 17 and finished with par to come in with a 6-under 66 for the tournament.

Joe Durant Shines After Rain On Saturday

Joe Durant had a fabulous day to take a share in the lead after round 2.

Joe DurantThe Players Championship started much as it did Friday, with play delayed shortly after it had started. Thankfully the weather cleared up enough for play to resume for a while until interrupted by darkness. Among those delayed by the coming of night was first round leader Steve Jones who finished the day tied for first after nine holes. Seventy one players will show up at 7:30am Sunday morning to complete round two.

Among the best performances of the day came from Joe Durant who finished with seven birdies and an eagle to finish tied for first. He dropped strokes on holes one and five but finished with a seven-under 65. Durant’s favorite hole of the day might well have been the par-five 11th where he posted eagled on an 11-foot putt. Co-leader Lee Westwood looked like he was feeling confident as he finished his day with a 69. That was good enough to nudge him into a tie for first with Joe Durant and first round leader Steve Jones.