Pin placements were 'borderline mean'

Jim Furyk, making par on this hole, shot a 69 for his opening round, but said he found some of the Aronomink pin placements very difficult.
Jim Furyk, making par on this hole, shot a 69 for his opening round, but said he found some of the Aronomink pin placements very difficult.
Posted: July 02, 2010

It's safe to say that most, if not all, of the players were anxious to see how Aronimink Golf Club would be set up for the first round of the AT&T National.

Veteran Jim Furyk, for one, was a little taken aback.

"There were a handful of very difficult and borderline mean pin placements; I was a little surprised," said Furyk, who lived in West Chester and Lancaster during his youth and had plenty of friends in his gallery.

"It seemed like they came out of the chute firing. Usually it's a little more conservative. When they redid TPC Sawgrass the first year, the setup was pretty mild. They wanted to see what they could do with the golf course. I expected something similar [Thursday]. But those pins are in some tough spots."

Actually, the pins were a potpourri of difficult, medium and relatively easy. Long-time Aronimink member Jay Sigel counted a handful of tough placements and some rather benign ones. Five holes played under par in the first round.

But the other holes made up for the five subpar ones. The toughest turned out to be the 198-yard par-3 17th where, if you missed your spot going at a left pin, the ball would spin back down the slope at the front of the green, through a shaved bank and into the water.

One of the eight unfortunates whose ball found the water was Tiger Woods, who was trying to keep together his round after bogeys at 14 and 16. His ball hit into the bank short of the green and rolled back into the drink.

"The line was center of the green, wind coming off the left, just hit a full hard one," said Woods, who finished with a 73. "But I had to keep it down to make sure I carried the front and overcooked it trying to keep it down and draw it."

The hole also was of interest to Joe Ogilvie, one of the first-round co-leaders who made a par there and suggested officials shorten the hole to give more players a chance at birdie.

"They're going to play the left pin, according to one of the rules officials," he said. "If you're going to play the left pin, you play it at 125, 130 yards. I think today it was 198 pin, 183 front. If you pull it at all, you've got 193 to carry that left side. If you hit it 1921/2, you're dropping, and probably making double.

"It's just a hole that you're not going to hit it very close, and if you do, it's probably a mistake."

Aronimink is the seventh par-70 course utilized for a 72-hole PGA Tour event this year, and its stroke average of 71.392 ranked it second. Twenty-one players broke par in the morning group, and 13 did so in the afternoon, when the wind picked up and the fairways and greens were getting firm.

"It was tough to get it close on my last nine," said Carl Pettersson, one of six players standing one shot off the lead. "The pins were tucked, the greens were firm, and the wind was up and down. It was tough to get the direction right."

But all in all, the players generally liked the Donald Ross layout, which was restored to more of its original specifications during a project that concluded in 2003.

"It's an old-style classic golf course," Ogilvie said. "You've got a hole like 17 where it's not . . . I wouldn't consider classic. It's not a bad hole. It's just sort of a scary hole more than anything else. Having that left part shaved . . . they didn't make mowers that short back in the early 1900s.

"It really fits my eye. To me it looks like Baltusrol, at least the last time we played the PGA Championship there. So you have a lot of wedges here. You've got your opportunities to make some birdies, but they could put 18 pins where you just can't go for them. They could set this course up extremely difficult."

It remains to be seen how difficult officials will set up the course in the next three days. With little chance of rain and gradually warming temperatures, the layout could get pretty firm, and pars could get more elusive as we go on.

If that happens, you probably could forget about any player getting 10 or more under par.

Furyk didn't want to venture a guess.

"It's hard to tell right now a winning score," he said. "It's going to depend on how they want to bake the course out. If it gets firm and fast and the greens get even more difficult throughout the week, then the scores are going to come backwards."


Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or jjuliano@phillynews.com.

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