Fresh Start

One of the nice things about the end of one tournament on the PGA Tour is moving on to the next tournament and the fresh start that it gives you. This week, it’s the regular season-ending Wyndham Championship at the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina.

If you played well the week before at the PGA Championship, you have a chance to keep the streak going and to improve. If something wasn’t going quite right, you have the down time in between to think about it and figure out a way to overcome those obstacles.

And as much as you may be in love with one golf course, moving on to the next week’s creates a nice shift; new city, new course. You get to erase all the topographical details from last week and start to load the new ones in. You get to stand on each tee with a whole new look; last week’s 14th hole was a 238-yard par 3, this week it’s a 501-yard par 4, both uncharacteristically long given the par on the hole.

The nice thing about playing the same courses each year is that you can build a comprehensive yardage book that not only has the raw data, but your own experiences on each hole over the years. This year, even though it’s the same course, it’s a whole new ball game. The greens are different as Carl Pettersson explains:

It’s a new golf course really with the new greens.  The layout is very similar.  They’ve added a few new bunkers.  It certainly plays a lot different.

It’s going to be a harder test and very tricky around the greens. I think anybody could win.

A few golfers have compared the conditions out there to being Major-like.  Would you agree with that?

The rough is definitely up.  It’s difficult.  You got to put it in play and it’s tougher around the greens, definitely, but I think if you play well you can still shoot a reasonably low number around here.

After playing today and seeing those greens and it’s changed a lot, do you still have the same chances you had back when you won [in 2008]? What are you looking forward to?

Yeah.  Obviously you got to play well.  You can’t play as aggressive as you have in years past here because the greens are very soft and they’re obviously a lot firmer.  You got to tone it back a little bit.

It’s important to hit the fairways, very important to hit the fairways.  From there on you can try to attack on some holes.  Some holes you got to play a little bit more defensively.  Overall the golf course is great.

What’s the difference in the greens?  The ball will not spin back now whereas it would before?

Yeah.  Obviously before it was bent grass surface.  Now it’s bermuda.  It’s a little bit firmer and faster.  Lot of these slopes in the greens with the speed of the greens are a major factor now.  So it’s very difficult to two-putt from long range and little harder to get close on the second shots.

And even if you grew up in Greensboro, as Pettersson did, things can look a whole lot different.

Being back in Greensboro where you went to high school, does it bring back any funny stories from your days as a teen at Grimsley?

I drove around where I lived yesterday.  Seems like a different life.  It was a long time ago.  It’s always nice coming back here, brings back good memories from high school and definitely coming back playing here where I won in ’08 is good.

So home doesn’t look like home and they changed the greens. Just do what you’d do at any other new course. And the good thing about that? Nobody has an advantage. It’s all going to be about who can deal with what’s in front of them right now.

The one thing that didn’t change was Pettersson’s equanimity over losing half a million dollars because a leaf moved when he took a swing in a hazard. Very classy and very healthy way to move on.

These rules violations are being picked up by people who are watching telecasts at home and tweeting them in. How fair do you think it is that people at home are — Joe Schmoe, average every day golfer watching the television is tweeting rules violations in so the officials can go back and watch the videotape and checkup on them?

Yeah.  Obviously it’s probably not the same for everybody.  If I was in 30th place nobody would have picked it up [because he wouldn’t have been on television].

I did break a rule.  I watched it since.  I didn’t realize it at the time.  It’s a little stupid rule, but I did break the rule so just an unfortunate thing and maybe they can change some of these rules.  That would be nice (laughter).

In addition to a nice attitude, Pettersson will have a nice pairing for the first two days. He’ll be paired with Defending Champion and U.S. Open Champion, Webb Simpson, and with Davis Love III, two-time champion and this year’s Ryder Cup captain.

To watch how the field manages the hard, new greens and the guys on the playoff bubble manage their nerves, makes this a tournament of more than passing interest.

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