The next major looks like the last one

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The last major of the year looks a lot like the last one.

The key word, of course, is “looks.” Whistling Straits, which Pete Dye built along the bluffs of Lake Michigan, offers some of the most inspired views in golf. It rolls along through manmade dunes, with native grass that is yellow and wispy.

“It’s like a British Open with good weather,” Carl Pettersson said. “Some of the bunkers can be quirky, but that’s part of links golf. There’s a lot of blind tee shots, like you get in links golf. I don’t think it would be much fun to play in 20 mph in.”

The comparisons end there.

The soil is nothing like links golf, and Stephen Ames was quick to note that his 4-iron was rolling only about five yards in the fairway.

As for the bunkers? The PGA of America only tells the players that there are about 1,200 of them, although not nearly that many are in play. There are so many bunkers that the gallery often stands in them behind the ropes. A notice in the locker room again reminded players that a hazard does not end in the rope. Even if the ball is in someone’s foot print or the tire track from a cart, it’s still a bunker.

Stuart Appleby found that out the hard way in 2004 by removing a loose piece of grass and grounding his club during a practice swing. That cost him four shots.

Among the changes is a pot bunker in front of the green on the 355-yard sixth hole, which Kevin Sutherland said could make any player feel claustrophobic. Ames said it reminded him of the Road Hole bunker on the 17th at St. Andrews, yet another British comparison.

“It’s going to be hard,” Goydos said. “It’s got a little Scottish feel to it. You’re aiming at the bunkers. And there’s blind shots, but the blind shot is overrated. That’s all you have at St. Andrews. If a course was built after 1960, blind shots are bad. Anything built before 1960, and it adds character. I don’t get it.”

Goydos was not around in 2004 when the PGA Championship last came to Whistling Straits, although he pays attention. The fact Vijay Singh, a power player, won in a playoff over Justin Leonard and Chris DiMarco told him that the course does not suit one particular style.

He’s not sure there is a favorite, especially in this climate of golf.

“With Tiger struggling, it’s wide open,” Goydos said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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