Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Sports

Some issues will be all on the surface

KIAWAH, S.C. — Think all grasses are the same? Not for the world's best golfers at the PGA Championship. Many won't be sure what they're facing with the Ocean Course's paspalum surfaces.

The course was switched to seashore paspalum grass in 2003 because of upkeep problems caused by its next-door neighbor, the Atlantic Ocean.

"Paspalum is a grass that I'm not sure we've ever played a (PGA) Tour event on before," Luke Donald said this week.

The world's No. 1 player better adjust in a hurry. For all the talk of super-sized titanium drivers and long putters, the biggest factor in the year's final major might be who successfully figures out the seaside layout's paspalum fairways and greens.

Count Rory McIlroy, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, among those with an edge. Not only did he successfully spell paspalum during Wednesday's media session, he often plays on the surface at the Bear's Club in Jupiter on Florida's east coast. "So it's actually quite nice," he said.

Even better, McIlroy said, is paspalum has more grip and lets him freely fire at pins without worrying he'll roll too far past: "It just really grabs the ball, so you can be aggressive with your chip shots and definitely (be) aggressive with your wedge shots, too."

THINKING AHEAD: If golf decides to ban long putters, U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson will be ready.

Simpson said he ordered two Scotty Cameron putters that are conventional length and has been practicing with them at home in case the Royal & Ancient Golf Club and U.S. Golf Association decide that anchoring a club to the body will not be allowed.

Neither organization has said which way it is leaning.

"I don't want to be surprised by it," Simpson said. "I'm almost kind of telling myself to expect it, and we'll see what happens."

FEELING FINE: Phil Mickelson said his recent slump can be blamed on his swing, not an arthritic condition.

"My game has not been what I would like it to be the past two months," said Mickelson, 42, who suffers from psoriatic arthritis. "Fortunately, it's not health-related."

ON THE BUBBLE: European captain Jose Maria Olazabal said Padraig Harrington will have to show "extraordinary" play to avoid missing the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1995. Harrington is well outside the top 10 players who automatically qualify for Europe's team in three weeks. He would have to finish alone in second this week to have any chance of moving into the top 10.

CRANE OUT: Ben Crane withdrew from the PGA because of a back injury.

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