Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Liberty National A-OK

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Liberty National A-OK

Article excerpt

JERSEY CITY -- The willingness of Liberty National Golf Club to make significant changes to its course has strengthened New Jersey's reputation and standing as a host of The Barclays.

Phil Mickelson and his fellow PGA Tour players praised the alterations, four years after criticizing this former industrial waste site for its oh-so-tight fairways, severely sloped greens and exceedingly high rough.

"You can be more aggressive because you're not getting gobbled up by 4- or 5-inch rough," Mickelson said Sunday after shooting 6- under 65 to tie for sixth at 9-under. "I thought that made the world of difference."

"The course changes were really well received by the players," said Peter Mele, The Barclays' tournament director. "And a lot of the changes they made helped move spectators around, and build the golf-course hospitality, and it went really well."

Mele is happy the first leg of the four-event FedEx Cup Playoffs will return to the Garden State the next two years. Next summer, Ridgewood CC in Paramus will host for the third time in seven years, and Mele said, "We're excited to go back to Ridgewood."

Ridgewood officials are excited to host for the first time since 2010. Alex Khowaylo, Ridgewood's event chairman for The Barclays, said Sunday that the club "sent notice" a few days ago that it also is willing to host in 2018.

"I think our membership is looking forward to it, our staff is looking forward to it," Khowaylo said. "We think it's going to be a great event, and we would like to make it even better than it was in 2010, and we want to give spectators a great experience."

Liberty National's primary task was to provide a good experience for tour players, who care more about the fairways and greens than the spectacular views of the New York City skyline and Statue of Liberty.

Paul Fireman and his son, Dan, co-founders of the course built in 2006, responded. Several greens have been rebuilt, including the 18th, which allows for fairer play as well as better flow of spectators. …

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