Tag:cog blog thursday
Posted on: September 15, 2011 6:45 pm

Rose bypasses belly, guts Cog Hill anyway

LEMONT, Ill. -- Turns out, it's a good thing Justin Rose didn't join the belly brigade after all.

After admittedly struggling on the greens most of the year, Justin Rose turned up with a new toy in hand at the practice area on Tuesday at the BMW Championship.

He'd just picked up a brand-new belly putter, though he barely knew which end of it to hold. So he spent a few moments watching the other belly-putter purveyors using the popular device as he tried to figure  out whether he was brave enough to use it in live play.

When the first round came, he left it in the trunk.

His results were magical even without it in the bag.

Rose shot one of the more impressive rounds of the season with an 8-under 63, which was 8.75 strokes better than the field average in the first round at difficult Cog Hill.

Rose, a popular Englishman, had nine one-putt greens and made a series of short-range testers in the five-foot range to maintain his two-shot lead over Webb Simpson and Mark Wilson, both two-time winners this season.

Rose ranks 111th in the tour's newest stat, strokes gained putting, which translates rather brusquely to this -- compared to his peers, he's been below the tour average this season. Small wonder he was investigating the belly model, all the rage of late. Four of the last five tour events have been won by players using longer putters.

"I've got to try and represent the short putter out here," Rose laughed afterward. "I probably did get a few benefits from trying it."

Some players, like past BMW winner Camilo Villegas, use the belly model on the practice green as an instructional tool, with the notion that it helps them with the traditional-length model. So Rose might be onto something.

It wasn't like the rest of his game was lacking, either. He hit all 14 fairways and only missed two greens, totals that topped the field in both categories.

He also halted a rather nagging problem that has dogged him much of the season -- he was ranked 111th in opening-round scoring average. He shaved 8.4 strokes off his Thursday average.

"I've been sort of fighting my way back into tournaments," he said.

Now he can enjoy running out front for a while.

Like several others, Rose took the opportunity during the PGA Tour's scheduling off week to decompress. He took a trip to Long Island last week with some friends and drank a few beers.

"I was joking with my wife, if I came out and shot 80, there'd probably be no more of those," he said. "That was the incentive to do well."

Rose, a likeable lad with a self-deprecating sense of humor, was so disappointed with his putting that earlier this year at the Memorial, he handed his putter to a kid after the round and said, "Maybe it'll work better for you than it did for me."

As it turned  out, the kid was left-handed.

Category: Golf
Posted on: September 15, 2011 6:18 pm

Reavie back in mix after Boston letdown

LEMONT, Ill. -- Chez Reavie didn't need much of a tune-up after losing the Deutsche Bank Championship in a playoff two weeks ago, the last time the PGA Tour held an event.

Good thing.

"I spent the off week laying by the pool," he said.

In the midst of easily his best career run, Reavie seems rested, recovered and showed zero signs of a hangover from his disappointing end at the Deutsche while playing in the first round of the BMW Championship on Thursday.

Reavie, who bogeyed the 72nd hole at the Deutsche Bank with a wedge in his hand and later lost in a playoff to Webb Simpson, shot a 2-under 69 at Cog Hill and was firmly entrenched in the top 10.

After having knee surgery last year, Reavie has progressively played better and better, learning along the way that his knee issues were also connected to back and neck issues he has experienced over the years.

Somebody wrote a song about this, didn't they? The knee bone's connected to the hip bone, and so forth?

"I am finally healthy," said Reavie, 29. "I just feel so much more consistent out there, day to day. I don't have those things going on with my back, leg, my neck. I feel the same almost every day."

Feeling normal was a vague concept for Reavie, who blew out his ACL in high school and never had it repaired. Once he had the surgery, he realized how it seemingly had led to other issues as he tried to make up for the weakness in his knee.

No more of that. Even on a brutally long track like Cog Hill, the 5-foot-9 Reavie was right in the mix, with no aftermath of the Boston disappointmen at all visible.

"Oh, it's long -- we were still hitting 3- and 4-irons into the greens," he said. "If I shoot under par every day here I'll be very happy."

Category: Golf
Posted on: September 15, 2011 5:43 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 9:25 pm

Simpson has all angles covered at BMW

LEMONT, Ill. -- It goes by many names, although the most literal term itself is rarely used.

The euphemisms include hosel rocket or the dreaded lateral -- anything but saying the real word, shank. It's a word that can send shivers through the best of players.

Webb Simpson has had three of them this season on the PGA Tour, including in the first round of the BMW Championship on Thursday, though you'd never know it

In fact, the last time the hottest player on the planet shanked one, three weeks ago in Greensboro, he won the tournament, which is why his caddie Paul Tesori, says Simpson has the strongest mind of any player he's ever seen.

"A lot of times, that would shake people," Tesori said. "He doesn't shake."

Or rattle, but the kid certainly does roll.

Simpson, 26, shot a 6-under 65 in the first round at Cog Hill and is two shots off the lead as he attempts to become the first player in five PGA Tour seasons to win three times in a four-week span.

The last guy? Maybe you've heard of him -- Tiger Woods, who actually won four times in a five-week span in late 2006.

"Just the fact that you guys are even talking in those terms, with Tiger," Tesori said, shaking his head. "A couple of weeks ago, we were just trying to close out our first tournament."

Simpson won his first tour title in Greeensboro on Aug. 21, where he hit a shank into the woods with a 6-iron on the third hold of the tournament and made an ugly double bogey. Then he fatted a couple of shots on the fourth hole and made another bogey.

On the next, he striped a drive down the middle, knocked the same 6-iron to within a few feet of the hole and made an eagle, and was off and running to his first win in the big leagues. He also won two weeks ago in Boston, beating one of the best fields of the year.

"Stuff just doesn't bother him," said Tesori, who worked several seasons for former world No. 1 Vijay Singh.

The shank on the 18th on Thursday, which was Simpson's ninth hole of the day, was an 8-iron from 170 yards that went dead sideways. But after a free drop from near a cart path, he got up and down from 63 yards on one of the course's trickiest greens.

"Helluva par," playing partner and defending champion Dustin Johnson interjected, as Tesori discussed the hole.

This season, Simpson has had a trio of shanks, one apiece with the 6, 7 and 8 irons, and it obviously doesn't leave much of a hangover. After the shank on Thursday, he shot 33 on his second nine.

"I probaby shank one every other day on the range," he said, noting that his hips clear so quickly that sometimes the club lags behind at impact. "I don't get too panicked. It's a little embarrassing."

Forget the red face, it's been nothing but red numbers for the Raleigh, N.C., native, who is an astounding 52-under in his last 12 rounds. He's first in the FedEx Cup standings, which carries a $10 million bonus to be awarded next week in Atlanta.

With his two wins this season already, and a playoff loss in New Orleans, Simpson is starting to be mentioned as a possible Player of the Year candidate. No player has more than two victories this year.

"I think I've got to earn my way there," he said.

Simpson said the notion of $10 million or collecting postseasons trophies is nothing to mull at the moment. He might have a strong mind for the game, but it works best when he keeps his head down or his eyes pointed straight ahead.

"It's easy to get caught up in it, and it's easy to get thinking about $10 million and all that kind of stuff," he said. "But the reason we were able to win, the main reason is that we've got to do what we're set out to do. We're going to work on the things we need to work on regardless of where we stand."

Lately, where he stands has been easy to predict. Right near the top of the leaderboard. 

Category: Golf
Posted on: September 15, 2011 5:43 pm
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Posted on: September 15, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 6:04 pm

Maybe Mickelson likes Rees' pieces after all

LEMONT, Ill. -- This will be the best laugh you'll have all day.

Perhaps all week.

Phil Mickelson's reverse love affair (hey, that's the nicest way to put it) with designer Rees Jones has become public record, with the future Hall of Famer missing very few opportunities to take shots at the architect's body of work. This week at Cog Hill, Mickelson was one of many players pointing out the flaws in Jones' redesign of Cog Hill, site of the BMW Championship.

But this is downright comical. Lovers of irony, button your chinstraps.

* In the second half of the 2010 season, Mickelson's lone top-10 finish came at Cog Hill, where he finished T8.

* In 2011, his lone victory was claimed in Houston, at the Redstone course designed by Rees Jones.

* Mickelson has two other top-5 finishes this year, but only one in the United States, at Torrey Pines, on a course redesigned by Jones before the 2002 event.

So, in other words, in his last four finishes of T8 or better, three have come at courses Jones built or redesigned. The fourth was a T2 at the British Open in July.

After shooting a 1-over 72 in the first round, Mickelson was asked about the disconnect between his opinions and his results on the various Jones venues. Just because he doesn't love the design doesn't men he can't play them.

"Everybody's gotta play it, everybody's gotta play it," he said.

Category: Golf
Posted on: September 15, 2011 1:39 pm

Tour ends monotonous Cog clog on par-3 holes

LEMONT, Ill. -- Maybe the PGA Tour heard the complaints espoused by Phil Mickelson about how Cog Hill's four par-3 holes were virtually of the same, monotonous, tedious, punitive length.

Or maybe they intended to set up the course this way beforehand.

Doesn't matter, really.

The end result is that the tournament staff threw some huge adjustments into the equation at the one-shot holes in the first round of the BMW Championship on Thursday, which ought to make everybody happy during a week when the venue has again been buried by harsh reviews.

After the controversial Rees Jones redesign was completed three years ago, the four par-3 holes at the Dubsdread course varied in length on the scorecard from 218-244 yards. But that reasonable criticism logged by Mickelson wasn't a reality in the first round after tees were moved all over the property to mix it up a bit.

They have multiple tees on each hole, of course, and the tour was certainly availing itself of those opportunities. The difficult sixth, with a length of 244 yards from the championship tee, was particularly neutered, with the tee moved up 57 yards Thursday.

Only the tee on the last par-3, the 14th, played longer than its posted scorecard length. Overall, the tees on the one-shot holes were moved up a whopping 99 yards in the opening round, adding some diversity to the club selection.

Here's how the one-shot holes were laid out for the opening day of play:

No. 2

First-round tees: 214 yards
Scorecard length: 228 yards
Difference: Tee moved up 14 yards

No. 6
First-round tees: 187 yards
Scorecard length: 244 yards
Difference: Tee moved up 57 yards

No. 12
First-round tees: 183 yards
Scorecard length: 221 yards
Difference: Tee moved up 38 yards

No. 14
First-round tee: 228 yards
Scorecard length: 218 yards
Difference: Tee moved back 10 yards

Category: Golf
Posted on: September 15, 2011 12:07 pm

BMW Championship starts with chill in Illinois

LEMONT, Ill. -- There's been a lot of chatter about the revamped golf course this week at the BMW Championship. Now there's some chatter about another issue out of the players' control.

Teeth-chattering weather.

The cold front that zapped much of the northern interior states Wednesday night didn’t miss the Chicago area, knocking the overnight temperatures into the mid-30s and giving the final week of summer a distinctly fall flavor in the first round of the tournament at Cog Hill on Thursday.

As the 70-man field teed off, the temperatures had warmed to 50 degrees, but a 15 mph wind made it even cooler for those whose drives found shady areas on the venerable public-access venue.

Eventually, the weather is expected to warm to 64 degrees, meaning positively delightful weather for those in the sunshine.

Hey, more incentive for players to hit the fairways, right?

Similar weather is expected into the final round on Sunday, when a 30 percent chance of rain is in the early forecast.

Most of the marquee groups tee off shortly before noon, with the bombers trio of Phil Mickelson, Gary Woodland and Bubba Watson slotted for 12:48 p.m. ET. The top three in FedEx Cup points, Webb Simpson, Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar, start off the 10th tee at 11:53 a.m. ET.

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