LEMONT, ILL. (AP) - In what likely will be the last time the BMW Championship is played at Cog Hill, some of the PGA Tour’s top players are not sorry to see it leave the public course south of Chicago.
The most biting comment Wednesday came from Steve Stricker, reputed to be one of the most polite players in golf.
Stricker is among those who fell out of love with Cog Hill when Rees Jones was hired to redesign the course in 2008 in an effort to land the U.S. Open. The greens were raised. The bunkers were deepened. The course was lengthened. Steep ridges in the greens led to impossible putts for a shot that was only slightly off its mark.
Cog Hill owner Frank Jemsek didn’t get the U.S. Open, and now the BMW Championship is leaving.
“They need to get their money back, I guess,” said Stricker, who won at the old Cog Hill in 1996 when it was the Western Open held around the Fourth of July. “It’s too bad what happened here.”
Cog Hill left a sour taste last year because the course was in poor condition, the product of an unusually hot summer that was tough on golf courses throughout the Chicago area. Phil Mickelson, not a fan of anything Jones designs, said the shape of the course wasn’t the issue.
He attributed the criticism of Cog Hill to the man in charge of revamping it.
“I know we all wish it had turned out differently,” Mickelson said. “But there was a lot of other guys to choose from that probably could do the job, and maybe if they just start over, it could turn into something special. …
“But tee to green and the property, it’s got really great potential,” he added. “I’d love to see Gil Hanse or a Crenshaw-Coore or Kyle Phillips or David Kidd _ or guys that really know what they’re doing _ come in and create something special here because I think that’s what the family and this facility deserves.”
The BMW Championship, which starts Thursday, is the third FedEx Cup playoff event for the 70 remaining players. The top 30 in the standings after this week advance to the Tour Championship with a shot at the $10 million prize.
Geoff Ogilvy is happy to be here. He had to make birdie on the final hole of the Deutsche Bank Championship last week just to get into the top 70. It was a clutch moment, and a relief, for Ogilvy who is also trying to play his way onto the Presidents Cup team.
His reaction upon making it?
“I get rewarded with a trip to Cog Hill,” Ogilvy said, the sarcasm easy to read.
Few other players have such a keen eye on architecture than Ogilvy. His assessment last year was that if Jones wanted a course that was really hard, then he succeeded, and if he wanted one that was enjoyable to play, then he failed.
He described it Wednesday as “kind of the same as last year, just long and hard and really quite narrow in spots.”