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Ben Crenshaw, Bill Coore planning Pinehurst’s ninth course

Officials at Pinehurst Resort were so pleased by the restoration work done by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore on course No. 2, they’ve asked them to design the resort’s ninth golf course.

It’s not likely to be built for at least two years, but the project is under way with routing plans being finalized.

“We’re not anywhere close to building it, but (owner) Bob Dedman (Jr.) wanted Bill to go ahead with the routing,” Don Padgett II, president of Pinehurst, said.

“We wanted Bill to have the land he wanted, and he carved out what he’d need for 18 holes.”

A portion of the new course will be on property where The Pit golf course is located. Pinehurst bought The Pit last year after it closed because of financial difficulties. Resort officials decided not to reopen The Pit but will use a piece of the land near Aberdeen for its new layout.

Pinehurst is preparing to host the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens in consecutive weeks in 2014, the first time the Opens have been back-to-back at the same site.

“I don’t think we’ll kick this off before now and the Open,” Padgett said, “and it will probably take two years to build.”

Chip shots

• The U.S. Open field will be set Monday through a collection of sectional qualifying events around the country. Three Charlotte-based players – Webb Simpson, Robert Karlsson and Martin Laird – have earned exemptions into the championship at the Olympic Club in San Francisco in two weeks.

• Phil Mickelson is trying to buy a piece of the San Diego Padres. According to media reports in San Diego, Mickelson has joined the O’Malley family in its effort to purchase the Padres. Mickelson said he would invest a substantial amount of money into the franchise if the bid is successful.

A San Diego resident and a big sports fan, Mickelson said he would hope to bring former Padres great Tony Gwynn into the franchise if the O’Malley family’s bid wins out.

• Kevin Foley, the leading money winner on the eGolf Tour, is closing in on having Nationwide Tour status for the remainder of the year. A former Penn State All-American, Foley has two recent top-10 finishes on the Nationwide Tour, and if he can earn another $7,309 on the tour, he’ll earn a spot on tour for the remainder of 2012, something only one or two players achieve each year.

On the eGolf Tour, Foley has one victory and four more top-10 finishes in just seven starts to sit atop the tour money list with $57,066 in earnings.

• The Symetra Classic, to be Sept. 10-16 at Raintree Country Club, is looking for approximately 400 volunteers to work the event. The Symetra Tour is equivalent to the Nationwide Tour, providing an opportunity for golfers to play their way onto the LPGA Tour. Volunteer opportunities exist in a variety of areas, including scoring, marshaling and working with the media.

Also, sponsorships and pro-am opportunities are available. There will be two pro-ams, one Wednesday, one Thursday before to the 54-hole event. For more information, visit


• It’s interesting to see Rory McIlroy taking some criticism after missing consecutive cuts and flying off to canoodle with his girlfriend/tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. After missing the cut at The Players Championship, McIlroy jetted off to Rome to be with Wozniacki, and after a dismal performance at the BMW PGA Championship last weekend, McIlroy said he’d hang around to work on his game.

According to reports, McIlroy practiced some Saturday then showed up in Paris with Wozniacki. Good for him.

Just guessing here, but I suspect McIlroy and his game will be just fine when he shows up at the U.S. Open in two weeks. We might get a preview this week at The Memorial.

• Rocky River Golf Club in Concord is hoping to get new and inexperienced golfers more comfortable on the course this summer by inviting them to play a shortened layout while the course is transitioning from bentgrass to bermuda grass greens.

When the conversion project begins June 4, the layout will feature shorter holes with 6-inch cups on temporary greens. It’s a good way for beginners to play without feeling the pressure of dealing with a bigger golf course. There also will be reduced greens fees ($15 to walk 18 holes during the week; $25 on weekends). Sounds like a really good idea, especially the 6-inch cups.

• Fortunately, the Zach Johnson blunder was embarrassing but not costly Sunday at Colonial. It’s surprising that players don’t forget to move their markers back more often, given all that’s going on sometimes. Some players have routines to help them remember when they’ve been asked to move their marker – maybe holding a coin in one hand – but it nearly bit Johnson.

Television announcer Peter Kostis realized the mistake Johnson was making but did the right thing by not alerting Johnson to his oversight. It’s a tough position for Kostis, but it’s on the player to remember. Johnson probably won’t make the same mistake again.

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