Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Birdie barrage coming

Medinah set up for the big boomers

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MEDINAH, Ill. -- Keegan Bradley broke out into a huge smile.

"I love it," Bradley said.

The young bomber was talking about the No. 3 course at Medinah Country Club, host of the 39th Ryder Cup that begins Friday. He was simply giddy about the length of the course, the lack of rough on the course, and the firmness and speed of the greens.

"I love it where I can just go up to the tee and bang it," Bradley said. "A lot of the bunkers are 285 yards out and you can just bang it over those. We should be able to make a lot of birdies."

That's what U.S. captain Davis Love III wanted when he had a hand in setting up No. 3 to his liking. The course, which has hosted a U.S. Open and two PGA Championships since 1990, is a bomber's paradise with generous fairways, the aforementioned lack of rough and open spaces in the woods as hundreds of trees have been removed.

"I just don't like rough," Love said. "I think the fans want to see excitement. They want to see birdies. We want to let these unbelievable athletes freewheel it a little bit and play. Medinah is such a big, long golf course.

"I think fair and fun and exciting for the fans on TV is the way to go."

The most challenging aspect of the course is the end of each hole -- the greens. Golf course architect Rees Jones has redone every green on the course -- 11 since Tiger Woods won the 2006 PGA Championship here. He also won the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah. Because of the changes, no player holds an advantage on the greens.

As far as the rest of the course, if backed up to the tips, it can be stretched out to 7,668 yards. However, especially with the drivable par-4 15th, which can be played at 391 yards or 285 yards, the course will probably play anywhere from 7,300 to 7,500. Whatever the length, Love thinks the course favors his red, white and blue troops, especially his bombers -- Bradley, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

"I like a course where you can hit driver all the time," Johnson said. "It's going to be nice to do that."

Added Watson: "No matter what team is playing, no matter what (format) it is, the course is set up for the fans to enjoy the game of golf. You're talking about no rough. Some of the trees are missing, so you're looking at great golf out of the trees when you hit one wayward. Everybody has the ability to hit the shot out of the trees. Let's see the big hook, the big cuts, over trees, under trees, around bunkers to make birdies. I think these great shots that you're going to see from all parts of the golf course are going to be great."

-- USA Today

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 28, 2012 C6

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