Some players not loving Liberty National

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Liberty National, the Bob Cupp/Tom Kite design continues to take a beating from the players. When asked if the course played better than he expected, Robert Allenby, who shot 3 under, said, “I really don’t know how to answer that in the right way, because I could really could get myself into a lot of trouble.”

“They set it up very well,” he added, “That’s as good as I can go on the course.”

Ian O’Connor of the Bergen Record scored the line of the week. He quoted Sanjay Jha, one of Tiger Woods’ amateur playing partners in Wednesday’s pro-am, who shared this one-liner delivered by Woods: “Maybe Tom did this course before his eye operation.”

Ooh, that one stings.

But it all reminds me of the early reviews for TPC Sawgrass, which is in my “fave five.”

When the Tour played it for the first time in 1982, Ben Crenshaw said, “It’s Star Wars golf, designed by Darth Vader.” Jack Nicklaus said he’s “never been very good at stopping a 5-iron on the hood of a car” and J.C. Snead called it “90 percent horse manure and 10 percent luck.”

Course architect Pete Dye softened some of the severe greens and with time the players have grown to appreciate its subtleties. One player suggested Liberty National would need a little makeover, too (let’s not forget, so did next week’s venue, TPC Boston), but he couldn’t tell me how he would change it.

Having walked the course this morning, there were some goofy greens. Definitely check out No. 3 on TV, where I think Jimmy Hoffa may be buried. But I like the shaved banks and tightly mown collection areas. I saw more players use putter from off the green than I have all year.

Maybe Paul Goydos put it best: “I don’t think Tom Kite was thinking, let’s see how easy I can make this course. I don’t think that was his mindset.”

And maybe the winner this week should push Tour Commissioner Finchem into the Hudson River the way Jerry Pate tossed former Commissioner Deane Beman into the water from the 18th green at TPC Sawgrass in 1982.

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