First Tee Open Champion Kirk Triplett Reacts to the New Poppy Hills
Aug. 26, 2014
The two-time defending champion of the First Tee Open will have to master a new course to win his third straight title, as Poppy Hills is replacing Del Monte in next month’s event. Triplett came out to Poppy Hills on Monday for a Media Day event, and shared his thoughts on playing a born-again course he once knew so well. Poppy Hills was part of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am rotation from 1991 through 2009.
“I think all players are going to enjoy playing here more than they used to,” said Triplett, 52. “It’s a lot like a Pinehurst. It feels like some of those sand hills you would find in North Carolina. There’s no rough and you’ve got that rugged and natural look. When you combine that with the ocean views and the forest, it makes a very nice mix.”
The renovation addressed many of the complaints PGA Tour players had when they came to Poppy Hills. The old Poppy Hills was angular and twisting, often setting up uncomfortable drives and approaches. Combine that with poor drainage, soft conditions and severe greens, and Poppy Hills was often a frustrating round for PGA Tour pros.
But Triplett doesn’t think that will be the case anymore — even though the course will seem familiar.
“The thing about the new Poppy Hills is — it’s still Poppy Hills,” Triplett said. “You still have the same looks, you’re still in the same corridors, you have the same setting and trees, and you know you’re in the Monterey Peninsula.
“But the features are different. The slopes around the green are a part of the game now. To me, before there was just one way to play each hole — the way it was demanded. I think now you have a lot of variety, and you can play shots with a lower trajectory and run it on the green.”
If you want to hear more from Triplett, there is a great preview of next month’s event from local NBC affiliate KSBW.