The 'new' North Course makes its debut at Torrey Pines
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Tiger Woods isn't the only one whose debut in 2017 at Torrey Pines is getting some attention.
The 156-man field at the Farmers Insurance Open will get its first look at the North Course that has been renovated by Tom Weiskopf. The North Course is used for the opening two rounds before the cut is made. The tournament ends with two rounds on the South.
The most noticeable change is that Weiskopf switched the nines so that the final nine holes take advantage of the spectacular views along the Pacific Ocean. He also changed up what is now the final two holes, converting the 17th (previously No. 8) into a par 5 along the canyon and the next hole into a strong par 4.
The most important change was the greens. They are larger with more undulation, have a SubAir system and have a bentgrass known as "Tyee 007." That means players will face bent greens on the North and poa annua on the South.
Weiskopf also removed 18 bunkers.
All of the par 3s are now over 200 yards (two are severely downhill), while the par 5s are between 520 yards and 560 yards, which should be reachable in two shots for most of the field. The North was lengthened by only about 200 yards.
Weiskopf said the best scoring will be from No. 5 through No. 11 because of the par 5s and two of the shorter par 4s. He believes the North will probably be two or three shots easier than the South, depending on conditions. Then again, he wasn't concerned with how the scores of the best players in the world. He was more interested in the other 51 weeks of the year.
"I'm worried about 80,000 rounds of golf, trying to make people that come here to play make it a point to play the North course now, not avoid playing it," Weiskopf said.
Jason Day is thinking about playing all three California coastal events on the PGA Tour thanks to the new strength-of-field policy that requires players to add one event to their schedule they haven't been to in the last four years (the exception is for those who played at least 25 times last year).
Day said he is leaning toward adding the Genesis Open at Riviera, the week after he plays Pebble Beach.
"We're out here on the West Coast, it's early on in the year, just get out of the way to try to focus on my whole year," Day said.
Riviera is regarded among the best on the PGA Tour and already has received commitments from Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas and Justin Rose. Tiger Woods is the unofficial host now that his foundation runs it.
"I think my best finish at LA is like 56th, so should be a good one," Day said with a smile.
He was slightly off. His best finish was a tie for 62nd in 2012. He missed the cut the previous two years and has never broken par at Riviera in three starts.
Day said his game is better now than it was five years ago. Besides, he never really fared great at Bay Hill or the TPC Sawgrass and won both those last year.
The LPGA Tour is giving more players a chance to take home $1 million at the end of the year.
The tour has made slight modifications to its points system for the Race to the CME Globe. Ultimately, the top five players going into the final tournament only to have to win the CME Group Tour Championship to claim the previous prize. Previously, only the top three had a clear shot to the $1 million.
Also, the top 12 players — up from the top nine — will have a mathematical chance at winning the Race to the CME Glove.
KEEPING IT AMERICAN
In a campaign that lasts only a month and features no debates and even less rancor, the players on the PGA Tour policy board have selected Robert Castro, Matt Kuchar and Johnson Wagner to run for chairman of the Players Advisory Council.
The election ends Feb. 17, which is Friday of the Genesis Open at Riviera. Whoever is elected chairman will serve a three-year term on the policy board starting in 2018.
The selection of three players keeps one streak going — an international player has never been voted PAC chairman. Among the international players appointed to this year's PAC were Paul Casey of England, Geoff Ogilvy and Rod Pampling of Australia and Tim Wilkinson of New Zealand.
Newcomers to the PAC include Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
Starting this year, the NCAA will allow substitutions in match play at the Division I men's golf championships.
Beau Hossler of Texas injured his shoulder during the semifinals last year. Because he couldn't play, Texas had to forfeit one of its five matches in the championship against Oregon. The Ducks wound up winning the title.
The NCAA golf committee said teams should be able to substitute a player at the coach's discretion when the eight teams advance to match play. The committee said the new policy not only helps the injured or sick player and his team, but it prevents the opposing player from having to sit out an important match.
Former New York Times golf writer Larry Dorman has been selected to receive the PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism.
Dorman covered golf, football and the Olympics at the Miami Herald from 1980 to 1989, spent two years at the National Sports Daily covering golf and had two stints as the New York Times golf writer, from 1993 to 1997 and from 2007 to 2011.
Ely Callaway hired him in 1997 to be vice president of public relations and advertising at Callaway Golf, where he stayed for 10 years before returning to the Times.
Dorman has covered 98 majors, eight Ryder Cups and 10 Super Bowls.
He will be honored April 5 at the GWAA Annual Awards dinner in Augusta, Georgia.
The USGA and R&A are making such strong progress in making the Rules of Golf more modern that a rough draft is expected in March, with a feedback period expected to last into the fall. The new rules could be ready to take effect as early as 2019. ... The winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur this fall will receive an exemption into the British Open. Previously, the Asia-Pacific Amateur champion received a spot in the Masters and was exempt into the final stage of qualifying for the British Open. The Open now gives spots to four amateur champions — U.S. Amateur, British Amateur, European Amateur and Asia-Pacific Amateur. ... Kevin Chappell plays one week after his wife Elizabeth gave birth to their second child, a daughter they named Collins. ... Jason Day has signed a three-year deal with Zurich in which its logo will be on his golf bag. He is playing the Zurich Classic, a two-man team event, with Rickie Fowler.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Justin Thomas is the only player in the top 200 in the world ranking to win on the PGA Tour over the last seven events. He was at No. 22 when he won at Kapalua and at No. 12 when he won the Sony Open.
"Nobody remembers what anybody shoots anymore. It's who won." — Tom Weiskopf.
This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.