7 Minute Miles

Final Payouts for Top 10 at PGA

Posted Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 09:42 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 9:42 PM

Here are the top 10 finishers in last week’s PGA Championship, along with amount earned:

  • 1, Y.E. Yang, South Korea, 73-70-67-70-280 (-8), $1,350,000
  • 2, Tiger Woods, Windermere, FL, 67-70-71-75-283 (-5), $810,000
  • T3, Lee Westwood, England, 70-72-73-70-285 (-3), $435,000
  • T3, Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland, 71-73-71-70-285 (-3), $435,000
  • 5, Lucas Glover, Simpsonville, SC, 71-70-71-74-286 (-2), $300,000
  • T6, Martin Kaymer, Germany, 73-70-71-73-287 (-1), $233,125
  • T6, Ernie Els, South Africa, 75-68-70-74-287 (-1), $233,125
  • T6, Soren Kjeldsen, Denmark, 70-73-70-74-287 (-1), $233,125
  • T6, Henrik Stenson, Sweden, 73-71-68-75-287 (-1), $233,125
  • T10, John Merrick, Long Beach, CA, 72-72-74-70-288 (E), $150,633
  • T10, Dustin Johnson, Myrtle Beach, SC, 72-73-73-70-288 (E), $150,633
  • T10, Zach Johnson, St. Simons Island, GA, 74-73-70-71-288 (E), $150,633
  • T10, Francesco Molinari, Italy, 74-73-69-72-288 (E), $150,633
  • T10, Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland, 70-75-71-72-288 (E), $150,633
  • T10, Padraig Harrington, Ireland, 68-73-69-78-288 (E), $150,633

The 2010 PGA Championship will be held across the border on the Straits Course at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin. The event runs from August 9-15, 2009.

Originally published by DK on August 18, 2009 at 9:42 pm

My Week as a PGA Golf Reporter at Hazeltine

Posted Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 09:19 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 9:19 PM

Thanks to the PGA of America, I was issued press credentials for last week’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska. You can check out the stories I wrote and the photos I took at the Golfing in Minnesota web site.

The whole experience was wonderful, yet very tiring. I have new respect for professional beat writers who travel week after week covering events like this. I also see how athletes could get sick of the same questions and demands over and over. It’s nice to make a living by playing a game, but I can see the negatives too.

It’s always nice when Minnesota is the center of attention and makes a good impression. Everyone seems to like Hazeltine for events like this and the only complaint I heard (the grass on the greens) is being addressed (the club will rip out everything and plant a new variety next year).

The 2016 Ryder Cup will be the next major golf event at Hazeltine – I think I need to set a new goal of becoming a Hazeltine member by then. Go big or go home, right?

Originally published by DK on August 18, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Last of the PGA Photos Uploaded

Posted Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 03:26 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 3:26 PM

The last of our photos from the 91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club have now been uploaded to the 7MM Photo Gallery.

Despite the one incident, it was a blast covering this event and I again want to thank the PGA of America for their support of local publishers.

On to the the 2016 Ryder Cup!

Originally published by DK on August 18, 2009 at 3:26 pm

More on Y.E. Yang from the Media Guide

Posted Sunday, August 16th, 2009 06:40 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 6:40 PM

So who is Y.E. Yang? The 37-year-old South Korean was the last player listed in the Players’ Guide distributed in the Media Center, but may be the best player no one really knows:

  • Ranked 110 in the official world rankings
  • Won the 2009 Honda Classic
  • Before today, earned $1,870,940.66 in 18 PGA events in 2009
  • Has 5 victories on the Japan PGA Tour, 1 victory on the PGA European Tour and 2 on the Korean Tour
  • Played on the PGA Tour the last three years, but had to earn his card at Q-school in 2007 and 2008
  • Beat Tiger Woods once before at the 2007 HSBC Champions tournament
  • Voted Korean PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 1999
  • Played in two previous PGA Championships: 2005 (T-47) and 2007 (MC)
  • Lowest score on tour in 2009: 65
  • Birthdate: January 15, 1972 (Jeju-do, Korea)
  • Height: 5′ 8″ Weight: 195 pounds
  • Turned professional in 1996; joined PGA Tour in 2007

I listened to Yang’s interpreter get interviewed before the round on the practice range and he said Y.E. speaks very little English and is shy. I’m sure he will be happy to work on that after this week!

Originally published by DK on August 16, 2009 at 6:40 pm

Yong-Eun Yang Wins 91st PGA Championship

Posted Sunday, August 16th, 2009 06:11 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 6:11 PM

So who had Y.E. Yang in the office pool? Congratulations Mr. Yang!

Originally published by DK on August 16, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Friday Notes from the PGA Championship

Posted Friday, August 14th, 2009 10:39 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 10:39 PM

The second day of the tournament is in the books and Tiger looks pretty comfortable with that four shot lead. Here are some random thoughts from today:

  • A neighbor said he saw a convoy of golf equipment semis driving east on I-94 in Woodbury on Wednesday. I checked today and all of the trucks by the range were indeed gone. PGA rule or logistics issue? Next week is Greensboro…
  • Moving up the fourteenth tee was a great idea – everyone seemed to be going for it (with mixed success). 299 yards, with the wind.
  • Ran into a few friends around the grounds today, including the very talented golf photographer Peter Wong. You’ll find his photos all over the official guidebook and programs.
  • I also talked to Pioneer Press golf reporter Tad Reeve, who is such a wonderful writer. Both metro papers have relatively large groups on site this week (although about half the size of 2002).
  • The long third and twelfth holes both played into a strong headwind today. I stood behind both tees and couldn’t imagine how I’d ever reach those greens in anything remotely close to regulation.
  • Friday pictures are now available in the photo gallery.

There are some very interesting pairings for Saturday, with the first tee time at 7:31AM and the Tiger/Vijay final group at 1:40PM (all off of the first tee). Should be fun!

Originally published by DK on August 14, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Woods and Harrington Press Conferences

Posted Friday, August 14th, 2009 02:14 am GMT -5 in Golf at 2:14 AM

Shortly after lunch, I decided to stop in the interview room. The space wasn’t very crowded, but it seemed like people were waiting for something to happen. I picked a seat in the second row and was treated to back-to-back press conferences with Thursday’s leaders, Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington.

Tiger has taken some flack for his on-course temper getting the best of him (which he admits), but I was really impressed with the way he spoke to the media. Harrington also mentioned that later – he loves playing with Tiger because he is such a gentleman. That really came across while I sat there listening. Funny and sharp, too.

As for Harrington, I could listen to him talk all day long. His stories made me think of Minnesota’s golfing Irishman, Gerald McCullagh. I wonder if those two have ever met – wouldn’t that be a fun conversation!

Originally published by DK on August 14, 2009 at 2:14 am

Camilo Villegas on the 7th Tee

Posted Thursday, August 13th, 2009 11:25 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 11:25 PM

I’ve been publishing this Minnesota golf site for four years. During that period, I’ve photographed many high school state tournaments, a few USGA championships, the 3M Championship, many Minnesota Section PGA tournaments and the Tapemark Charity Pro-Am. I’m not a professional photographer, but I know the rules and try my best to get good results without impacting players in any way.

The PGA Championship is the most prestigious tournament that I’ve ever been issued media credentials for and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to cover the event. I carefully read all of the media and photography rules and signed an agreement to abide by them. I do not have the photo armband that permits inside-the-ropes photo access, so my camera just has a bright orange PGA bracelet that allows me to have a camera outside the ropes during tournament rounds.

Today I had an unfortunate experience near the 7th tee box during the first round. The caddie for Camilo Villegas talked to the hole marshal after their group teed off and pointed at me (see above). The marshal came over and asked if I had a media credential (which I did) and said that the caddie thought I snapped a picture during Camilo’s back-swing (which I never do). I told him I always wait until the stroke is complete (as the PGA rules clearly state) and that my camera has the orange PGA band. He was very nice to me and said that he didn’t hear anything.

These elite athletes are competing for more money than I make in a decade and I would never want to do anything to impact the outcome of the competition in a negative way.

Camilo, if you ever read this, please accept my apologies if I did something wrong. Tiger was in the next group and Steve Williams didn’t ask to have me thrown out, so I hope I’m doing things correctly… ๐Ÿ™‚

Originally published by DK on August 13, 2009 at 11:25 pm

American Express at the PGA Championship

Posted Thursday, August 13th, 2009 10:54 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 10:54 PM

On Wednesday, I met with Ralph Andretta, executive vice president and general manager of cardmember services for American Express. A partner of the PGA of America since 2006, American Express has gone all out at this year’s PGA Championship to provide special extras to their card holders:

  • PGA Learning Center (located near the main entrance), featuring practice greens, a chipping area, video swing analysis, a closest to the pin golf simulator contest to win SkyMiles points, a rules of golf kiosk and an opportunity to get a 2-for-1 “Friend of a Cardmember” golf lesson with a local PGA professional.
  • The American Express Cardmember Club – an air conditioned hospitality tent located behind the 12th green that features televisions and refreshments available for purchase (the first drink is on them – while supplies last).
  • Championship Coursecast – a free portable radio that streams the Sirius XM radio broadcast of the Championship. This is also available to non-cardholders from 10AM – 12PM each day.
  • Championship Vision – a portable TV that features the live broadcast with many other data features. There are 1,000 units on site and they are distributed each day to cardmembers on a first-come, first-serve basis (a deposit of $350 is charged to the account if the device is damaged or lost).
  • Free PGA of America bag when you spend $150 or more in the Golf Shop and use the American Express card.
  • Free pocket course maps.

Don’t have a card? They will be happy to sign you up with a 35,000 SkyMile bonus. Mr. Andretta said they value the Twin Cities market and want to make a good impression with all of the customers impacted by Delta’s purchase of Northwest Airlines and the merging of their frequent flier programs (and affinity credit cards).

Personally, I tried both the video swing analysis and the Championship Coursecast and they are incredible. Stop in and check it out – additional photos of my visit are available in the photo gallery.

Originally published by DK on August 13, 2009 at 10:54 pm

First Round PGA Championship Photos

Posted Thursday, August 13th, 2009 08:56 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 8:56 PM

A few shots from Thursday at the 91st PGA Championship are now posted in the photo gallery.

Originally published by DK on August 13, 2009 at 8:56 pm

The Craig Show at Hazeltine

Posted Thursday, August 13th, 2009 08:06 am GMT -5 in Golf at 8:06 AM

If you haven’t been watching The Craig Show videos online, you should.

I ran into Craig and Caddy in the media dining room at the PGA (and again later on the practice range). They will be at Hazeltine all week for the PGA – look for them at “Craig’s Corner” near the 12th green…

Originally published by DK on August 13, 2009 at 8:06 am

PGA Media Center Interview Room

Posted Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 10:20 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 10:20 PM

I’ve only made it to two interview sessions so far this week: Stewart Cink (Tuesday) and Tom Lehman (Wednesday). This is the first time I’ve been to a sports-related press conference room and I must say it’s very, very nice:

  • The A/V equipment is great, so you can hear all the questions clearly.
  • The lighting is bright enough so I can take still photos without a flash.
  • There haven’t been very many people in each one, so you can easily get your questions answered, if you have any.
  • The moderator is good at his job.
  • Air conditioning!

I didn’t ask any questions during the first one, but Cink commented on how Hazeltine was “monster-long” and how “my 2-3-4 irons and driver will get a work out this week.” I also liked his Glacier National Park story, but Jim Souhan at the Star Tribune beat me to the punch on that one. He did leave out the part about getting a ruling for bear slobber, though.

During the Tom Lehman interview, retired Star Tribune golf writer Jon Roe asked about the Resorters tournament in Alexandria last week (in which brother Jim won and Tom’s son played with dad on the bag). I asked a follow-up question: “You mentioned the Resorters – are there other Minnesota courses that bring back especially fond memories for you?”

Mr. Lehman said during his college golf days, he and his buddies really liked to goof off at courses. At Hazeltine, they would find cracks in the parking lot pavement to place tees, then try to hit balls over the water tower. At Somerset, they would try to hit sand wedges while sitting on their knees. Lastly, he said they would get chased off Interlachen by Mr. Kidd for not playing by the rules.

Originally published by DK on August 12, 2009 at 10:20 pm

PGA Champions’ Dinner at Sofitel

Posted Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 08:34 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 8:34 PM

I didn’t even know they held a PGA Champions’ Dinner, but check out this photo of past champions taken last night in Bloomington.

Front Row (L-R) Dow Finsterwald, Shaun Micheel, Padraig Harrington, Doug Ford, Rich Beem, David Toms. Back Row (L-R) Mark Brooks, Davis Love III, Paul Azinger, Bobby Nichols, Bob Tway, Steve Elkington, Vijay Singh, and Tiger Woods with the Wanamaker trophy at the Champions’ Dinner held during the 91st PGA Championship at Sofitel in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, on Tuesday, August 11, 2009. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)

Defending PGA Champion Padraig Harrington hosted the event and presented the 13 other PGA Champions in attendance with a Celtic Drum as their gift for the evening.

Fun fact I didn’t know: Harrington was the first European to win the PGA Championship since 1930. Are you listening, Sergio?

Originally published by DK on August 12, 2009 at 8:34 pm

Putter Master Scotty Cameron at the PGA

Posted Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 05:42 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 5:42 PM

Although I didn’t get a chance to talk to him, Scotty Cameron was working his way down the driving range yesterday, meeting with Titleist players and showing off some new putters.

As this post can attest, I’m a big fan…

Originally published by DK on August 12, 2009 at 5:42 pm

John Daly at Hazeltine National

Posted Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 05:01 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 5:01 PM

As promised, here is a nice big shot of John Daly at Wednesday’s practice round. More photos being uploaded later tonight to the photo gallery.

UPDATE: all of the Wednesday photos are uploaded.

Originally published by DK on August 12, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Tuesday Photos from the PGA Championship

Posted Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 12:37 am GMT -5 in Golf at 12:37 AM

This one was my wife’s favorite – apparently the Spiderman is A-OK…

I’ll be loading photos into this photo gallery all week long (in reverse chronological order).

Enjoy!

Originally published by DK on August 12, 2009 at 12:37 am

Concessions at the PGA Championship

Posted Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 10:58 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 10:58 PM

What can you expect to find (and pay) at the 91st PGA Championship this week? If you don’t have access to one of the many hospitality tents, your experience at Hazeltine National will be similar to most other major league sporting events in town.

Pictured above is the menu from one of the concession tents that is open to the general public. There is a little variety between tents (including some ice cream and beverage-only stands), but most of it is the same.

Not sure if it’s Prom Catering this year or not – I’ll check tomorrow and report back…

Originally published by DK on August 11, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Range Balls at the PGA

Posted Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 06:57 am GMT -5 in Golf at 6:57 AM

So what do you get in your bucket of balls when you go to practice for the PGA Championship? On Sunday, you had your choice of at least Srixon and Bridgestone.

I wonder if you get to request what you want – I’ll check back as the week continues…

UPDATE: As I mentioned earlier today on Twitter, Hazeltine Pro Mike Barge reports there are ten varieties of golf balls available on the range for players to choose.

Originally published by DK on August 11, 2009 at 6:57 am

Welcome to PGA Championship Week

Posted Sunday, August 9th, 2009 09:56 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 9:56 PM

It’s finally here – the 91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. Today I visited Hazeltine to pick up my media credentials, get familiar with this year’s layout and take a few pictures.

With the strong field at the WGC in Ohio, there weren’t a lot of golfers practicing today. In the four hours I was there, I only saw 5 or 6 people playing. One of them was 2002 PGA champion Rich Beem, though, who birdied 18. I believe I also saw 17-year-old Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa on the same hole – he was being followed by a small swarm of photographers and camera men, so I’m guessing that was him (no name on his bag or his caddie).

The course looked to be in wonderful condition, even with all the rain the past few days. There seemed to be a little water damage along sixteen, but that wasn’t in play and the rest of the course seemed to be draining fine. A few of the spectator paths were a little muddy, but the heat will dry that out.

I planned to stop and see if Hazletine professional (and Tapemark Pro-Am competitor) Mike Barge was in the pro shop, but I was surprised to find the normal Hazeltine pro shop has been converted into what looked to be a player dining room!

Not much else to report from the first day. Practice rounds begin tomorrow and run through Wednesday. Those days have always been my favorite as a fan because the players are more relaxed and chatty, many will sign autographs and you can bring your camera.

Speaking of cameras, make sure and visit the 7MM 2009 PGA photo gallery all week. We won’t be there on Monday, but watch for more photos from Tuesday through to the final round on Sunday.

Originally published by DK on August 9, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Round 15 – Southview Country Club

Posted Thursday, August 6th, 2009 12:30 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 12:30 PM

This was my third round of the year at Southview, so I’ll keep this post short. I was invited by Tapemark Pro-Am president Phil Callen and played with two of his friends who are new to the game. I love playing with new golfers – especially those who are excited to be there and are anxious to learn the rules and traditions of the game.

The course was, as usual, in beautiful condition and we had a perfect day weather-wise. My score wasn’t so great, but lately golf has been much more about the social aspect for me, not setting course records.

I’d also like to call out the wonderful staff of Southview: general manager Mark McCahey, head professional Phil Anderson and all the other great people there that make each visit so special. If you are looking for a club this year, give them a call at 651-451-6856 and schedule a visit.

Originally published by DK on August 6, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Lebanon Hills Mountain Bike Trails

Posted Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 02:11 pm GMT -5 in Nature,Sports at 2:11 PM

I’ve had the Fuji mountain pictured above for a long time, but never really ride it that much. That might all change now, though, as I recently discovered a hidden gem just a mile and a half south of our house.

The Lebanon Hills Regional Park borders Eagan and Apple Valley and contains a really fun series of mountain bike trails.

I think my bike is a little too small, but I got it as a free credit card points reward way back when. It will have to do for now, but I may invest in a pair of $35 riding gloves at some point.

Last night was my third time on the trails and I like it more and more each time. I love that it’s so close, has great scenery and variety, isn’t too difficult for a beginner like me and (probably best of all) is free.

The parking lot is almost always full of cars, but I never see too many people on the trail itself. Since it’s around six miles all in the same direction, I can see where that would happen, though. The only thing missing is a drinking fountain in the parking lot.

Way to go Dakota County!

Originally published by DK on August 5, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Changes at Hazeltine รขโ‚ฌโ€œ Back Nine

Posted Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 12:58 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 12:58 PM

Yesterday we looked at the front nine at Hazeltine National – today it’s time to look at the finishing holes at the famed Chaska course.

I like both nines at Hazeltine, but the back usually gets all of the attention, with the stunning lake views on the tenth and sixteenth holes getting well-justified acclaim. Let’s take a look:

Hole 10, Par 4, 452 Yards
Hazeltine10th
When you stand on the tee at the tenth, you don’t get the full scenic impact until you walk up to your ball for the second shot. I’ve never been in the “A” position at the corner of the dog-leg left, but was very happy to find the left rough cleared out last time I played this hole. During another round, I was only a few feet off the fairway, but the rough was thick enough to make it difficult to advance back to the fairway, let alone hit the green, which lies significantly downhill from the landing area. Tough green to putt.

Changes: Fairway regraded, creating a swale for visibility of the fairway bunkers from the new back tees (approximately 40 yards added), right fairway bunker enlarged, new bunker added, fairway narrowed.

Hole 11, Par 5, 606 Yards
Hazeltine11th
If you thought number three was a long par five, along comes eleven at 606 yards. I’m not sure if the hole is really uphill that much, but it seems like it to me. Lots of bunkers all over and I remember being just a few feet off the fairway on this hole once and almost breaking my wrists trying to advance the ball out of the rough. Rich Beem hitting this green in two and making an eagle during the 2002 PGA seems like a miracle to me (he was the only one to do it all week).

Changes: re-established a bunker front center to green that probably takes away the shot Beem hit in 2002.

Hole 12, Par 4, 518 Yards
Hazeltine12th
Remember yesterday when I said the par five seventh hole played 518 yards during the 1991 U.S. Open and that it could be a par four today? Welcome to today. The new back tee on this already tough hole sits at exactly 518 yards. During my last round, the dog-leg right twelfth played around 420 yards. There is also a pond on the right that is really only in play for people like me.

Changes: New back tee extends hole 50 yards, gold and blue tees moved left, white and red tees shifted forward and left, fairway bunker added to the front of the right fairway bunker complex (old complex too far away from new back tee), fairway narrowed on both left and right.

Hole 13, Par 3, 248 Yards
Hazeltine13th
Longest par three on the course is always a challenge for me. With my game, the smartest play is usually to lay-up, which means I stay out of the pond on the left and out of the trees on the right. I need to chip it close, though, as hitting the wrong part of the green can create some very long putts. Made par last time out.

Changes: Right greenside bunker lengthened and moved closer to the green.

Hole 14, Par 4, 352 Yards
Hazeltine14th
The shortest par four on the course, the fourteenth tempts you to hit driver through the narrow opening of trees off the tee, but the green is well protected by bunkers and elevation changes. I made par on this hole last time, but I seem to recall it was by scrambling from the trees on the left and making a long putt.

Changes: none.

Hole 15, Par 5, 642 Yards
Hazeltine15th
OK, so I thought three and eleven were long par fives. Fifteen is actually the longest at 642 yards and features a multitude of bunkers and an elevated green. This is also the hole one lucky person in our group discovered you can slice a ball off a downward-left lie. Windows crashing isn’t just a computer term, it turns out…

Changes: new left fairway bunker in landing area, fairway narrowed.

Hole 16, Par 4, 402 Yards
Hazeltine16th
The signature hole – that sums it up. I’ve always felt this hole was the odd one out, with a totally different feel from the rest of the course. It’s such a great hole, though – one you look forward to all round. And the history: the Payne Stewart bridge, Rich Beem’s long putt, etc. It’s an intimidating tee shot, to be sure, but I played it exactly the way I wanted to last time – fairway hit, green in regulation, two putt par. Watched most of the final round in 2002 from the hill next to the tee.

Changes: none.

Hole 17, Par 3, 182 Yards
Hazeltine17th
I’ve heard some criticism of the seventeenth hole, but I’ve always thought it was a beautiful, challenging par three. The green has two levels and I remember last time how hard it was to putt from one level to the other. The water shouldn’t be in play (famous last words).

Changes: none.

Hole 18, Par 4, 475 Yards
Hazeltine18th
It’s a long way home on eighteen and it’s all uphill. This hole always seemed a little harder to me than the ninth, but maybe it’s just because it’s not as straight and you don’t see the green until your second shot. A good drive along the right can catch a ridge that gives you more yardage, but I always seem to miss that spot. My last scorecard says I made bogey with a two-putt, so I must not have been in too much trouble.

Changes: new member tee, fairway bunkers on both left and right restructured with additional bunker on the right towards the green. The “Tiger” bunker on the left side was rebuilt but the “Tiger” portion of the bunker remains the same. Green-side bunkers between 9 and 18 were one massive bunker. The bunkers were broken to be 9 and 18 specific in play.

Golfing in Minnesota will be on the grounds all next week providing coverage of the 91st PGA Championship. Come back and visit us!

Originally published by DK on August 5, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Changes at Hazeltine – Front Nine

Posted Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 06:51 pm GMT -5 in Golf at 6:51 PM

Wow, I can’t believe I started writing this post more than a year ago, thinking I had all the time in the world to finish it before the 2009 PGA Championship. Well, here we are, one week from the start of the tournament – time to finish it up!

Thanks to a wonderful friend and mentor, I’ve had the privilege of playing Hazletine National on several occasions during the past ten years. The course has changed a great deal during that time and will change even more before the next major event is held there (the 2016 Ryder Cup). We’ll have another post about the future of Hazeltine during tournament week.

Hazeltine has always been a very tough course for me. As a 15 handicap, the best score I’ve ever had was a 94 from the gold tees, which at the time played to around 6,600 yards, with a rating of 73.6 and a slope of 148. As everyone likes to say, the “new” Hazeltine will be the longest course in PGA history at 7,674 yards. Let’s take a look at the front nine:

Hole 1, Par 4, 490 Yards
Hazeltine1st
Long, long, long. For a short and inaccurate hitter like me, this is a tough opening hole. When the long grass hasn’t been burned down (or set up for galleries), easy to lose balls when you stray wide. I watched Ernie Els get out of the green-side bunker at the 2002 PGA to save par on the tricky, multi-tier green.

Changes: the championship tee at 490 is new (back 48 yards), left fairway bunker moved in 10-12 yards, front left bunker moved closer to the green, right bunker extended towards green.

Hole 2, Par 4, 431 Yards
Hazeltine2nd
I’ve always liked this dog-leg left par four, which rises to a nice green complex after you turn the corner. I think I might have made par here last time (or bogey).

Changes: Left fairway bunker relocated 290 yards out, hill on the left side lowered and tree removed, two bunkers added to right drive zone, fairway narrowed.

Hole 3, Par 5, 633 Yards
Hazeltine3rd
I’m lucky if I can reach this green in four shots when the wind is blowing. Once you get there, very tricky green to two-putt. Easy to be dead in the trees, too. And tough bunkers (see above). Glad ESC says I can only take 7 here…

Changes: none.

Hole 4, Par 3, 210 Yards
Hazeltine4th
Thank goodness for a par three after the long third hole! In true Hazeltine fashion, though, number four is no push-over. This hole always seemed very tight to me, with trees everywhere. The green is large, but the amount of sand surrounding the green is much greater, it seems.

Changes: numerous trees removed to open green structure to tees, which were extended to 212 yards.

Hole 5, Par 4, 448 Yards
Hazeltine5th
Oh, how I love this hole. A dog-leg right par four, there are a series of bunkers on the right that I’ve been in more than once. It is vitally important to hit this green, which is tucked into a grove of trees and surrounded by deep bunkers. There have been people in our group who have gone from one bunker to the other…and back again.

Changes: championship tee moved back 48 yards, right fairway bunkers deepened and shifted towards the fairway, fairway moved closer to the left fairway bunker.

Hole 6, Par 4, 405 Yards
Hazeltine6th
A “short” par four at 405 yards, this is another fun par four that I like a lot. I usually try to hit a three wood down the left side of the trees that line both sides of the first half of the dog-leg left. Unfortunately, I usually end up in the trees on the right side and have to punch out. That leaves an approach shot over the pond to a large, multi-level green. The people that own the houses across the pond will have a great view of the tournament.

Changes: none.

Hole 7, Par 5, 572 Yards
Hazeltine7th
There is a plaque on the seventh tee that reads “U.S. OPEN 1991, No. 7 PAR 5, 518 YARDS.” That would probably be a par four these days, eh? I remember playing this hole well last time, laying up and hitting a decent wedge shot across the pond. Hitting in the trees on the right off the tee is dead, but they really aren’t in play for good players.

Changes: new championship tee is 30 yards back and to the left of the old tee (which was removed), new bunkers and mounds on the left driving zone, fairway narrowed, forward trees on left removed to allow play from new tee.

Hole 8, Par 3, 176 Yards
Hazeltine8th
The second par three on the front side is the shortest on the course, but don’t let that fool you. The green is tiny, the pond comes in way too close for my game and there are all those bunkers on the other side of the green. I saw Tiger hit the grandstands to the left of the green at the 2002 PGA and then hit a perfect pitch over the bunkers to a pin position on the green that sloped towards the water. One of the most amazing pars I’ve ever seen.

Changes: none.

Hole 9, Par 4, 432 Yards
Hazeltine9th
The ninth and eighteen holes run parallel to each other back uphill to the clubhouse. They are similar to each other, but seem to play differently for me. Number nine doesn’t have too much trouble to find – it’s just a long, steep climb to close out the front side.

Changes: fairway bunker complex on left and right rebuilt, moved towards fairway and deepened.

Stay tuned – we’ll take a look at the back nine later this week.

UPDATE: Based on member feedback, some of the changes mentioned above have been edited. Also, the championship yardages listed on the Hazeltine scorecard are a little different from what the PGA lists on their web site:

1-490, 2-433, 3-633, 4-212, 5-448, 6-405, 7-572, 8-176, 9-432, 10-452, 11-606, 12-518, 13-248, 14-352, 15-642, 16-402, 17-182, 18-475 total 7,678.

Originally published by DK on August 4, 2009 at 6:51 pm
 

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