Monty: We’d Love a Three-Round Event at Poppy Hills
Sept. 29, 2015
The NCGA’s best and Champions Tour legends have played the new Poppy Hills for two years now. The score to beat is a 6-under 65.
Olin Browne fired a Champions Tour record 6-under 65 at Poppy Hills on Saturday of the First Tee Open, which included four birdies and a hole-out for eagle on No. 10. The Champions Tour played from 6,879 yards. (The Jones Tees play back at 7,002 yards.)
“I made one rainmaker of a putt on No. 6, and I hooped a wedge on No. 10,” said Browne, who won the 2011 U.S. Senior Open. “When you do those kind of things, you turn what is a decent day with a 68 into a 65.”
Anthony De Los Reyes, now a senior at St. Mary’s, also shot a 6-under 65 during the final round of this year’s NCGA Stroke Play Championship. His round, from 6,716 yards, bested the previous record of 66 by Blaine McCallister at last year’s First Tee Open. De Los Reyes had six birdies, plus an eagle on No. 9. He went 4 under from Nos. 9-11, and finished Nos. 17 and 18 birdie-birdie.
Poppy Hills continued to make fans out of the Champions Tour players, including Colin Montgomerie, who had never seen the property. (He played primarily on the European Tour.)
“It reminds me a little bit of Pinehurst and a little bit of Pine Valley in many ways,” said the World Golf Hall of Famer. “I loved it. This is a hell of a track. We’d love a three-round event at Poppy Hills, if the NCGA is interested in sponsoring it.”
Tom Watson returned to Poppy Hills the first time since his playing days on the PGA Tour, and agreed.
“The look of the golf course is very pleasing to the eye with the waste bunkers,” said Tom Watson, who finished second. “I like that a lot.”
Defending champion John Cook concurred.
“The vistas and the views and the shadowing you have late in the day is so gorgeous,” Cook said. “It’s a good spot to be.”
No. 8 played as the toughest hole at Pebble Beach (0.248 strokes over par), but Poppy Hills had five holes that were more difficult at this year’s First Tee Open.
Poppy Hills played to a stroke average of 1.475 shots over par to Pebble Beach’s 0.298.
Only one birdie was recorded on No. 5 (0.531 strokes over par), and just two were made on No. 1 (0.469). No. 12 (0.358) ranked as the third toughest hole, followed by No. 8 (0.296) and No. 15 (0.259). There were 12 holes that played over par.
The four par 5s at Poppy Hills played as the course’s four easiest holes: No. 18 (-0.432), No. 9 (-0.247), No. 4 (-0.136) and No. 10 (-0.074). The par-4 No. 14 and par-3 No. 11 also played under par for the pros.
On Saturday, there was just one birdie picked up on Nos. 1, 5, 8, and 17. Dan Forsman also aced the 217-yard No. 15 with a 3-iron.
Here’s a rundown of how all 18 holes at Poppy Hills played: