Thursday, June 25, 2009

Three players assess the TPC River Highlands layout

TPC River Highlands is a Pete Dye design with reworking done by protege Bobby Weed. Dye redid many of holes on the existing layout while adding others. Featured throughout is just what you would expect from Dye and Weed, there's plenty of strategy where positioning a tee shot on one side of a fairway results in a better line to the green. Those players that can work the ball left and right have an advantage.

Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, lists River Highlands as one of his favorites on the PGA Tour.

"I think it starts out with the fact you have everything. You have some long holes. You have some short holes, but they're both demanding. You have some lefts, some rights, and you have a lot of ups and downs. I think you also throw in just the unique aspect... starting on 13," Johnson said. "Well, even 10, 11 and 12 are good. But the back nine in general, 13 through 18, those holes are just great. There's not a hole you like more than the next. You know, if you're hitting well, and putting well, you can make some birdies. At the same time, if you're a little bit off, it will bite you."

Stewart Cink also likes the layout; he won the tournament in 1997 and 2008. His take on the design is different from Johnson.

"We know where the targets are off these tees. We just try and hit it off the target, and the fairway (width) is immaterial," Cink said.

Boo Weekely appears not to be a fan of River Highlands. His only appearance came in 2002. Asked what he remembers of the course, he replied, "Nothing."

"It's all a blank?" the PGA official asked.

Boo: "It's all a blank. I mean, I tell you, maybe what came back was a bad one, though, but it came back. It seems like the bad ones always pop up. But on hole 17, the year I was here, I think I made double on the last or on 17 there to miss the cut."

The official pressed on: "Hit it in the water?"

"Yes sir. Hit it in the water. But the golf course is gorgeous. I'd like to see it with the sun out."

There's no water on 18 so Boo's end came on 17.

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