The Tiger Woods-designed El Cardonal at Diamante may have played host to an extraordinary week of golf on the PGA Tour, but some professionals among the World Wide Technology Championship field were still struggling to pay the course many compliments on their journey home.
South African Erik van Rooyen claimed an emotional victory in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico after blasting a final round of 63 to claim the title on a stunning 29-under par.
In a week where scoring was considerably lower than a regular PGA Tour event across the board, van Rooyen was one of nine players to finish the tournament at -20 or better. And while the eventual champion recorded a superb nine-under on Sunday, Andrew Putnam - who finished in a tie for fifth - went one better as one of two players to card a 10-under round on the final day along with Austin Cook.
On his X account - formerly Twitter - Putnam revealed that the scoring was so comfortable, he was not stopped for a single question by the media despite an extraordinary effort.
He said: "You know the course is easy when you shoot -10 to be top 5 and you don’t get 1 question from the media when you leave scoring. Straight to packing your bags up and leaving the course thanks Mexico for a fun vacation week of golf! @PGATour"
You know the course is easy when you shoot -10 to be top 5 and you don’t get 1 question from the media when you leave scoring. Straight to packing your bags up and leaving the course 😂 thanks Mexico for a fun vacation week of golf! @PGATOURNovember 6, 2023
Putnam was not the only man in the field to vent his frustration over the way the week unfolded. In a post on his Instagram, Kelly Kraft initially called El Cardonal "one of the worst" courses he'd seen in his days as a professional before later changing it to say the layout was "not one of his favorites."
The American finished the tournament in 71st on eight-under - 21 shots behind winner van Rooyen - after only managing to card one round in the 60s.
Kraft's updated Instagram post read: "Best part about this week was having my family here and watching the @rangers win the World Series!! About the golf, not sure where to start.
"All I will say is the @pgatour could do a better job at picking courses to host these events. In my opinion this wasn’t my favorite course, and I’ve played on tour for a little while. Better luck next week 👊. Side note, I will say that @wwt_inc did a great job with what they had. Thanks for the hospitality!"
A photo posted by on
While there was plenty of comment on just how straightforward scoring appeared for most, not everyone enjoyed four days of plain sailing - as Thomas Detry found out on Thursday.
Although he ended the week in a tie for 38th, the Belgian found trouble near the end of his first round when his tee shot into the middle of the par-3 16th rolled off the front edge of the green and into a steep native area below. The 30-year-old watched his ball just fail to find the top shelf before dribbling backwards and over the collar of rough that protected the putting area.
Some fans criticised the course's design as the main contributing factor to the seemingly harsh penalty while others claimed the set-up was wrong and ultimately cost Detry a shot.
Scores may be low, but Tiger’s design is not messing around this week. Just ask @tomdetry pic.twitter.com/tXr35De9DSNovember 2, 2023
Prior to the tournament beginning, Woods said of his set-up choice: "This course is going to remind people of the old-style California courses. We will use the existing arroyos that traverse the site and well-placed bunkers to create definite strategic choices and carries off the tees.
"I set up the golf strategy to make golfers think and make choices. Angles of approach are going to be very important and will dictate the type of shots you should consider. I love this kind of golf."
Thoughts on TW design course El Cardonal at Diamanté:-I’m not a massive course design junkie like Zac Blair and others so this is a pretty basic breakdown lol. -I always find it funny that famous players that became course designers end up designing courses that fit their… pic.twitter.com/GKpm09c5PaNovember 1, 2023
Meanwhile, Michael Kim - who ultimately finished in a tie for 23rd - shared a highly-detailed and balanced pre-tournament view on the layout last Wednesday. The 2018 John Deere Classic winner felt Woods had designed a course which "fit his own game", something "famous players" often do when turning their hand to design.
Kim also labelled the fairways at El Cardonal as "generous to say the least," going on to say they "could be some of the widest fairways on tour, if not the widest." The 30-year-old also called the greens "pretty wild" with "LOTS of back stops," although he did mention there was a mix of different shapes to the putting surfaces.
Before stating scoring would be "pretty low" ahead of the event beginning, Kim said the course is quite long but contains "almost no rough to speak of" and "would be very interesting if it got windy" - something that did not occur.
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Jonny Leighfield is our Staff Writer, joining Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and has since spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. The self-proclaimed ‘worst golfer in the office’ still enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.
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