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Hoch believes PGA Tour favours long hitters

“Maybe they're trying to get us ready for the Senior Tour,” he fumed. “Last time I said the LPGA, but they fined me for that.

 “It’s getting old banging my head against a brick wall. They (the PGA Tour) don’t listen.”

Forest Oaks, home of one of the oldest events on the PGA Tour, is known for being one of the few courses on the regular tour to routinely serve up thick rough reminiscent of a U.S. Open.

So Hoch was surprised to find just a wispy growth of rough, barely two inches long in most places, lining the fairways and surrounding the greens.

“The rough (on tour) this year has been less than in almost any other year I can remember, other than a drought,” Hoch continued.

“It’s a joke. Let’s just have the whole tour for the long hitters and not worry about accuracy.”

Hoch, the 1989 Masters runner-up, has long been a vocal critic of the PGA Tour field staff, who he believes too often set up courses to favor the long hitters, such as Tiger Woods.

“This has always been a tough course. That’s one of the main reasons I came here, because I figured this is about the only place I could find any rough,” Hoch said.

Hoch’s anger boiled over when he played the 18th hole in a Tuesday practice round at the same time as the ground staff were mowing the already sparse rough.

The short-hitting Hoch has to rely on accuracy as his major weapon and says the only tournament he has played this year with penal rough was the Players Championship.

Defending champion Hal Sutton, another accurate but not overly long hitter, also expressed disappointment at the lack of Forest Oaks rough.

“I like decent rough, because it punishes you if you hit it off line,” Sutton said. “I think there should be a price to pay if you hit it off line.”

Added 1997 champion Frank Nobilo: “I would prefer it (the rough) to be a little higher. It’s an older style course and when the rough’s up, it’s a better test. When the rough’s down it’s going to benefit the long hitter.”

Scott Hoch believes that the PGA Tour only favours the long hitters. Allsport.

Nobilo speculated that the tour was setting up courses without much rough to encourage aggressive golf, which a lot of spectators seem to enjoy.

PGA Tour tournament director Mark Russell, who is in charge of the course set-up this year, defended the length of the rough, or lack of it.

He said the rough this year was 2 1/2 inches high, and would probably grow another inch by Sunday.

 “We think it is very penal, but in the past it has been higher,” Russell admitted.
   
 “The feedback from the players is they did not want the rough as high as it has been in the past. You are going to get varied comments from all the different players. The rough is 2 1/2 inches and we think that it is exactly where it should be.”

 


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