From Scotland to Seattle: Nicklaus’ designs bridge gap

Gleneagles, host of the 2014 Ryder Cup, and TPC Snoqualmie Ridge showcase
the best from the European Tour and Champions Tour, respectively

PGA Centenary Course at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland

Two tournaments separated by almost 4,500 miles share one common bond: Spectacular Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses.

This week and on two different continents, tournaments tee off at two acclaimed designs by the Golden Bear. The European Tour’s Johnnie Walker Championship will be held at the PGA Centenary Course at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland—providing fans a prelude to the 2014 Ryder Cup scheduled to take place at the Nicklaus-designed layout 13 months from now. In the United States and Pacific Northwest, the Boeing Classic on the Champions Tour will unfold at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge outside Seattle, Wash.

This week marks the 15th year the Johnnie Walker Championship has been held at Gleneagles, and it’s a can’t-miss edition. The event will not be a part of next year’s Tour schedule, as preparations for the 2014 Ryder Cup will be underway at the course.

This week presents an ideal opportunity for players to not only capture the prestigious title, but also to test themselves over the Jack Nicklaus-designed and renovated layout in order to prepare for the 2014 Ryder Cup. Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, who claimed his eighth European Title at last year’s championship, returns to defend his title after also helping the European team secure the 2012 Ryder Cup. Other star challengers include Thomas Bjorn, Stephen Gallacher, Scott Jamieson, Francesco Molinari and Richie Ramsay.

Alterations to a number of holes have been undertaken in recent years to modernize and strengthen an already demanding test. Designed in the late 1980s and officially opened in May 1993, the course and the recent renovations, including the spectacular ninth and 18th holes, have received rave reviews.

“It’s a golf course I’ve always enjoyed playing,” said Marc Warren, who won the Johnnie Walker in 2007 and is back in the field this year. “I think it’s quite a long golf course, but if you drive it well, you can definitely make a lot of birdies. I think Adam Scott was 24 under or something one year, which was incredible on a golf course as tough as this.

“But I think the changes they have made to the course make it even better. 18, the green, I think that can make it exciting and I think you can make eagle. The hole plays shorter and it’s easier on Sunday to make eagle but you can also make five or six.

“I think condition‑wise, it’s the best I’ve ever seen it. The SubAir system is obviously doing its job in drying out the course a lot. I think we hear a lot of guys saying that it’s the best we’ve seen the course this week.”

Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley explained why he feels it’s important to play in this year’s Johnnie Walker.

“I have a good idea how the course should be set up but it’s a really good question,” he said, “because this is part of the reason why we feel in Europe it’s important for the captain to still be competing and playing on Tours; not just to see the players and be around them more often and for the players to be familiar with the captain.

“But it’s also for the captain to see the golf course and how it’s playing and what kind of players it’s suiting and what players it’s not suiting; if a certain fairway or certain green needs to be changed in terms of tailoring, growing the rough more in, or maybe having a pin position there, or using that pin position.”
Back in the United States, 81 of history’s most accomplished Champions Tour stars will tee off in the Boeing Classic in picturesque Snoqualmie, outside of Seattle. The event features 2013 US Presidents Cup Captain Fred Couples, Mark Calcavecchia, Fred Funk, Hale Irwin, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Steve Lowery, Sandy Lyle, and a host of other big names.

Seattle native Fred Couples, who will captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup team Oct. 1-6 at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, is looking to win in his hometown.

“In my mind, I’m from Seattle and I want to win in Seattle,” Couples said. “I feel like the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge course is a really good course. I just have a few holes where I can’t seem to make birdie on. I just need more birdies in my round, and on a couple of these holes, I just can’t get it done. On the 17th hole, I very rarely par the hole and it ruins a lot of decent rounds. So when I get up there, I’ve got to pay more attention on how to play the par-3 17th and get it on the green, two-putt, and get the hell out of there. It’s just a hard hole for me.”

The magnificent Snoqualmie Falls serves as a visual and historical backdrop for the Tournament Players Course at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, the only Jack Nicklaus Signature Course in the Pacific Northwest. Snoqualmie Ridge is a realization of a vision joining a spectacular natural setting and a golf club destined to bring the excitement of tournament play back to Washington. The course is designed to accommodate major PGA Tour events, while offering superb playability for golfers of all levels.

The Johnnie Walker Championship will continue to air on the Golf Channel today (Friday) from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET, and on Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET. The Boeing Classic airs on the Golf Channel today from 6:30-8:30 p.m. ET, Saturday from 7:30-9:30 p.m. ET and Sunday from 7:00-9:30 p.m. ET.

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