Putting will be key on Champions' big greens

Originally Published: November 4, 2003
By Andy North | ESPN.com

HOUSTON -- Champions Golf Club features some of the biggest greens these guys have seen all year, which means putting is going to be huge this week.

Some other things to watch for on the 7,301-yard, par-71 track:

  • The greens have a lot of roll to them, and if they start sticking the pins in the corners, players are going to have to be really careful not to miss them on the short side.

  • Because the greens are so big, sometimes it's hard to get dialed in on your approach shots and to judge the proper length. Visually, it's hard to get used to.

  • No matter how well these guys play this week, they're going to leave themselves some long two-putts. The greens have some slope, and judging the right speed is going to be of the utmost importance.

  • There are many doglegs at Champions Golf Club, so positioning the ball and playing the right length off the tee will be key. It's a long golf course, but I think it plays into the hands of a player like Jim Furyk, who works the ball well off the tee, puts it in play, is quite accurate with his irons and is a good putter.

  • Holes 9 and 13-15 will be a key stretch for the field. These are the easiest holes on the course, and players will have to post some red numbers here. The ninth and 13th are short par-5s that most guys will be able to reach in two, and the 14th and 15th are relatively short par 4s. I think you'll see some play that stretch at 2- or 3-under.

  • There aren't any ridiculously hard holes, though the par-3 fourth gets a lot of notoriety. It's played over a big ravine and plays 221 yards; it's a beautiful golf hole.

  • Both Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh have played in three Tour Championships at the Champions Club. Woods -- who won here in 1999 -- posted a combined score of 26-under during those weeks, while Singh was 19-under. Expect more red numbers this week. I predict the winnning score will be 14-under 270.

    Two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North serves as an analyst for ESPN, and is in Houston this week for the Tour Championship.

    Andy North joined ESPN as an on-course golf reporter in September, 1992. He serves as both an analyst and a reporter in ESPN's championship golf coverage as well as analyst for ESPN's preview shows and SportsCenter reports from major tournaments.
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