Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

What Debate? Scoring Still Par for the Course

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

What Debate? Scoring Still Par for the Course

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits, Times-Union sports writer

Is 31-under par in one 72-hole tournament low enough?

Are 22 PGA Tour events in 2002 at which the entire field averaged below par enough?

Should Rocco Mediate shoot a total of 43-under-par in two tournaments but finish second both times, by a combined 16 shots? Should David Toms shoot 47-under in consecutive events last year and finish second and sixth?

Should there have been only two PGA Tour events in the past two years -- aside from the majors and The Players Championship -- where the winner didn't shoot double-digits under par?

Ernie Els' 31-under-par 261 performance last week at the Mercedes Championship broke the four-round Tour record for score in relation to par and sparked a renewed debate on whether par is a diminishing and possibly irrelevant standard.

Some point out that the Tour's total scoring average has not changed dramatically during the past 20 years or so, since metal drivers came into use.

But consider this: all of the important scoring records (relation to par for 72 and 90 holes, total score for 72 and 90 holes, and score for 18 holes) have been broken within the past four years. In addition, the tournament records at 20 PGA Tour events, plus the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, have been broken or tied over the same span.

Consider what has happened at many of the older courses remaining in use for Tour events. There are 13 courses more than 20 years old that are not part of multi-course events or rotating events: Augusta National, Wailae, Torrey Pines, Riviera, Doral, Bay Hill, Harbour Town, Colonial, Westchester, En-Joie, Warwick Hills, Forest Oaks and Muirfield.

The 72-hole scoring records have been broken at all but two (Westchester and En-Joie) since 1987, including eight marks by five or more shots. …

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