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Golf

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If you go
What: Hotel Fitness Championship
Where: Sycamore Hills Golf Club
Today: Round 1 tee times 7:30-9:30 a.m.; 12:30-2:30 p.m.
Friday: Round 2 tee times 7:30-9:30 a.m.; 12:30-2:30 p.m.
Saturday: Round 3 tee times 8-10 a.m.
Sunday: Final-round tee times 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
TV: Golf Channel
Parking: Free; use address 11430 Covington Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46814
Information, tickets: www.hotelfitnesschampionship.com; prices increase at gate
Pivotal holes
The following are the pivotal holes for players to conquer at the Hotel Fitness Championship, according to Sycamore Hills Golf Club head professional Tim Frazier: No. 15
Par-5, 552 yards
“This is our signature hole and a tremendous ‘risk versus reward’ opportunity. The player thinking of reaching this par-5 in two shots will hit a tee shot that must negotiate the Aboite River targeting the narrow, flat landing zone just past the mature Sweet Gum tree in the fairway 300 yards off the tee. The second shot, from approximately 250 yards to the green, will cross over the Aboite River two more times to a green complex stretching 52 yards in length and possessing three distinct tiers, five greenside bunkers and two chipping swales to guard against the slightest offline shot.” No. 18
Par-4, 444 yards
“This hole saw the most significant change during Phase 1 of this year’s renovation. Players will either place their tee shot in the fairway just short of the bunker complex 287 yards straight away or challenge the very narrow fairway guarded by water left and the fairway bunkers straight and right. If they choose to challenge the hole by hitting driver to the very narrow portion of the fairway, they will need to either curve the ball from right to left or carry their tee shot 290 yards in the air to avert the water hazard. The second shot requires even more accuracy as they will be hitting into a narrow green angled away from the player guarded by water and two bunkers short with a chipping swale right and long of the green.”
For spectators, Frazier recommended these areas for viewing: No. 7 green/ No. 8 tee shot
“This is a beautiful area to watch golf. No. 7 is a 195-yard par-3 that features a pond the players must negotiate with their iron shots to the green while the 470-yard, par-4 8th tee is adjacent to the seventh green. The No. 8 tee shot is fun to watch as the hole plays downhill and the players work to hit the fairway guarded by a meandering creek down the right that turns and crosses the fairway where the tee shots stop and trees lining the rough left. Spectators can see all the action of these two areas by simply turning side to side.” No. 1 tee/ No. 9 green
“This is very close to the clubhouse and offers some spectacular views. The first tee and ninth green are next to each other and a row of trees along the back of No. 9 offers a comfortable place to sit and watch some great golf. No. 1 is a 460-yard par-4 where you can see the players bomb drivers downhill to a tight fairway guarded by bunkers both left and right. No. 9 is a 409-yard par-4 where the players will be hitting short irons uphill to a green that is guarded by very deep bunkers and requires high, soft and accurate second shots.”
Pro-Am at Hotel Fitness Championship, 2014

Check out some highlights from the Pro-Am at the Hotel Fitness Championship on Aug. 27, 2014, at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne. The proceeds benefit two great causes -- the Mad Anthonys Children's Hope House and the Evans Scholars. By Justin A. Cohn/The Journal Gazette

Photos by Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Trevor Immelman, last year’s winner, tees off at the first hole at the pro-am round of the Web.com Tour’s Hotel Fitness Championship at Sycamore Hills on Wednesday. The tournament begins at 7:30 a.m. today and airs on the Golf Channel.
Hotel Fitness Championship

Major champ aims for return

Curtis looks to regain form from 2003

Jason Fabini tees off Wednesday on the first hole at the Hotel Fitness Championship pro-am.
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Fans watch the action on the second tee during the pro-am round of the Hotel Fitness Championship at Sycamore Hills on Wednesday.

– When Ben Curtis won the British Open in 2003, he certainly didn't think that 11 years later he would have to prove he still belonged on the PGA Tour.

“After I won, obviously the goal was to win more of those,” said Curtis, 37, who will compete at the Hotel Fitness Championship beginning today at Sycamore Hills Golf Club.

“Realistically, I had a few chances at a couple other majors. Overall, it's something to be very proud of. It's nothing that can ever be taken away. Once I got into 2006, when I won a couple more titles, it took some pressure off and relaxed me a little bit and wasn't so intense.”

But it will be intense this week in the first of four tournaments within the Web.com Tour's Finals, through which 25 of 50 PGA Tour cards for next season will be determined.

The Hotel Fitness Championship, which was won last year by another major winner, Trevor Immelman, is open to players in the top 75 on the Web.com Tour and Nos. 126 to 200 in the FedExCup rankings.

Curtis is No. 131.

“More than anything, (being here is) just to have fun and not focus in on the consequences of the four tournaments,” Curtis said. “I have some sort of status (for next season). I'm not completely shut out of the tour, but it would be nice to fare well here and improve my standing.”

There are three major champions here – Curtis, Immelman, who won the Masters in 2008, and Y.E. Yang, who won the PGA Championship in 2009 – and the Web.Com Tour stars are highlighted by Carlos Ortiz (three victories and $515,403 in earnings this year), Andrew Putnam ($320,438), Zach Sucher ($294,166) and Adam Hadwin ($293,667).

“This will be a good test of golf,” said Curtis, who hadn't played Jack Nicklaus-designed Sycamore Hills before this week.

“Obviously, the course is in great shape. They had 10 inches of rain over the weekend, but you can hardly tell. The greens are great. They're rolling really good. But the key is you have to stay out of the rough. It's really nasty, especially off the tee. A couple lengths on a couple holes, with no roll in the fairway because of the rain, it's going to play difficult.”

Immelman won last year by shooting 20-under over four days.

But having big names in the field doesn't seem to faze the up-and-coming golfers like Ortiz.

“It's more a battle against yourself and the golf course,” Ortiz said. “If you play good, you're going to have a good chance. You cannot control what other people do. Just worry about yourself and play good.”

Curtis just hopes his game returns to the level it was at when he won a major.

“I've been struggling around the greens this year,” he said. “I've putted OK, but the chipping and things like that have been putting pressure on the rest of my game.”

Notes: The pro-am, which benefited the Evans Scholars and Mad Anthonys Children's Hope House, had two sessions. The winning team in the morning, shooting a 51, consisted of professional Troy Matteson, James Khan, Patrick Dye, Chip Case and Roly Perez.

The afternoon tournament was won with a 49 by Johnson Wagner, Mark Hesterman, Jeremy Senk, Kevin Dawson and Scott Federoff.

jcohn@jg.net

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