LEMONT, Ill. – Cog Hill is taking a beating this week.
The longtime home of the Western Open was renovated by Rees Jones ahead of last year’s BMW Championship, and players aren’t happy with the changes. The greens are getting most of the criticism – “hard” and “bumpy” are two of the more popular adjectives – but the rest of the course isn’t making the grade, either.
Only 22 players are below par after two rounds of the BMW, the third event in the FedEx Cup.
“The short answer is it’s just not that enjoyable to play,” said Geoff Ogilvy, who is at 3 over. “Look, if your mission is to really punish a slightly bad shot and make it really hard all day, then it’s a success. If your mission is to create a place people enjoy playing, then it’s a failure.”
Frank Jemsek and his late father, Joe, have long coveted having a U.S. Open at the public course they own in Chicago’s western suburbs. When Cog Hill was made one of the rotating sites of the BMW Championship, they turned Jones loose on it, hoping the changes would make it worthy of an Open.
Jones lengthened the course to 7,616 yards, rebuilt the greens and made a few other tweaks. The changes have only been exacerbated by Chicago’s unusually hot, humid and rainy summer.
“They’ve had a tough summer, you can see that. The course has suffered,” Retief Goosen said. “Some of the greens are a little bit on the raw side, and the fairways, too. So yeah, it’s not easy.”
But not everyone is so quick to criticize.
Marc Leishman, whose 65 Friday was the low round of the day, said the greens aren’t nearly as bad as everyone is making them out to be.
“Every week we putt on perfect greens, and when they’re not quite perfect, it’s not the end of the world,” He said. “There’s a few patchy spots, but it’s not as though you’re putting on a road or anything.”
Besides, everyone is facing the same conditions.
“They’re slow and a bit bumpy,” Tiger Woods said of the greens, “but we all have to putt them.”
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STACK AND TILT: Charlie Wi said he wouldn’t be on the PGA Tour – and certainly not tied for the lead at the BMW Championship – if not for his coaches, Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett. They are known as “Stack & Tilt” because of the geometrical method they teach, and while a couple of players have abandoned the teaching in recent years, Wi remains loyal.
He also became very defensive Friday, even to the point of being critical of two players who left Plummer and Bennett, along with the coach now teaching Tiger Woods.
Among those he singled out were Aaron Baddeley and Mike Weir.
“Aaron Baddeley was the worst ball-striker on the PGA Tour,” Wi said. “He won three times with Andy and Mike, and they also took him to inside top 20 in the world. And if that’s not good enough for Aaron, well, it is what it is.
“And also Mike Weir – he was also one of the worst ball-strikers on Tour, and he won two times with Andy and Mike and made $6 million in two seasons, and he thought that wasn’t good enough. If you look at it, they’re not here this week. So maybe they should be working with Andy and Mike. And they’re friends of mine, too.”
Wi refused to mention Sean Foley by name, only referring to him as “whoever Tiger is working with,” when he said Foley has the DVD and instruction book written by Plummer and Bennett.
“And he always calls them asking questions,” Wi said. “They definitely know what they’re talking about.”
Woods was asked two weeks ago if his work with Foley involved the “Stack & Tilt” teachings.
“There are some parts of it that do look like it,” Woods said. “But there are other parts that are very, very different.”
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OVER IT: Paul Casey has gotten over his Ryder Cup snub.
Casey was passed over by Colin Montgomerie despite being No. 9 in the world when the European captain made his picks last month. The European team is weighted in favor of those who play the European Tour – only five of the 12 players on this year’s team are PGA Tour members – and Casey spends the majority of his time playing in the United States.
“I understand the European Tour wants to protect the European Tour, but we also want to get the best team possible,” Casey said Friday at the BMW Championship, where he is tied for fourth.
“I don’t know what the solution is,” Casey added.
But he’s not going to worry about it now.
Casey said a trip to Pine Valley after The Barclays with some of his buddies that lifted his spirits. He’s also booked a vacation for Ryder Cup week.
“I’m in neutral ground that week,” Casey said. “I’m going to Canada.”
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FREE MONEY: The FedEx Cup title is golf’s version of the lottery. Win it, and you’re set for life.
Financially, at least, with the winner of golf’s playoff series getting a $10 million bonus.
“I really haven’t thought about it,” Steve Stricker said. “It’s a lot of money, though.”
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AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.