Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stadium Course Ups the Ante for Players

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stadium Course Ups the Ante for Players

Article excerpt

PONTE VEDRA BEACH -- Are the greens like The Masters?

"Yes," Mark O'Meara said.

Is the rough like the U.S. Open?

"Yes," Mark O'Meara said.

And was the wind like the British Open?

"Yes," Mark O'Meara said.

And then he chuckled.

"You've got three majors covered right there," he added. "Hey, I guess this definitely does need to be a major now."

O'Meara, the winner of two majors last year and the PGA Tour's Player of the Year, was joking when he made the comment. But he was about the only player in yesterday's windwrecked Players Championship field who could manage a smile. Then again, he was one of only five players under par on this monstrous cloned combination of Augusta National, Shinnecock Hills and Carnoustie.

If you didn't know any better, you'd have thought the best golfers in the world yesterday were hitting whiffle balls into the wind, chipping bowling balls out of the rough and putting orange, pink and purple Gooney Golf balls on the greens.

The course was nobody's friend. Especially Bob Friend. A day after recording a hole-in-one Friday, Friend wobbled to an 87 yesterday, including a triple-bogey and three double-bogeys.

While he admitted to playing horribly, Friend used the term "ridiculous" to describe the course conditions. As his round was coming to a merciful end, he cut a beautiful 6-iron into the wind on No. 18 -- "my only good shot of the day" -- but the ball clanged onto the green six feet short of the flag and rolled 50 feet past. And that's when you knew that course superintendent Fred Klauk and his boys didn't mow the greens before the tournament; they applied Nair.

"The greens are like concrete," Friend said. "I think the golf course has gotten away from them [Klauk and crew]. It's to the point where the greens aren't accepting good shots."

The TPC Stadium Course has become the story this week and, despite the deafening outcry by the players, that is a good thing. All storied golf courses are treacherous in their own way, and, finally, the Stadium Course has found its niche. It's identity is that it is a composite of all the great ones: Greased greens. …

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