It must be “Celebrate Tom Fazio Week.” On the PGA tour, Fazio’s brilliant redesign is on display in North Carolina at the Quail Hollow Championship, and one of his more magnificent newer creations is being highlighted on the Champions Tour event as well, the Mississippi Golf Resort Classic, at Fallen Oak Golf Club (don’t you just love that name; Fallen Oak?) in Biloxi.
Fallen Oak is perhaps Fazio’s modern day crown jewel. A gorgeous piece of wooded property carved out of an old oak forest. The Fallen Oak website describes it as, “A place created from soil, sand, wind, thousand year old oaks, and the genius of designer Tom Fazio.”
The course opened less than four years ago, in November of 2006. It was number 19 on Golf Digest’s List of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses in 2009. Pretty impressive for such a young golf course.
Although the par 72 can stretch out to over 7400 yards, it will play a shade over 7000 for the seniors. The most eye-catching feature of the golf course, other than incredible natural beauty, is the dramatic elevation changes, which are usually not found in Gulf State courses. The layout boasts over 4000 oaks, magnolias, and pines; as well as a pecan orchard.
Perhaps the highlight of the layout is the 604 yard 15th. The 18th hole is a great finishing hole, with an extremely elevated tee looking out at a sea of bunkers, and beyond that, the majestic clubhouse in the background behind the green.
A strong field is on hand for the weekend in Mississippi. This includes Nick Price, Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Mark O’Meara, Jeff Sluman, Craig Stadler, Jay Haas, and Hale Irwin.
Nick Price might be a good choice. The 53 year old South African is playing great in 2010. He has entered seven tournaments and five times finished in the top ten. In fact, the last five tournaments he’s played in he has finished in the top ten. Last weekend, teamed up with Mark O’Meara, they won the Liberty Legends event.
Price won only once on tour last year, but 2010 is shaping up like a great year for the former British Open and PGA Champion (twice). This year Nick has done it with an overall game. Although he is 4th in driving and 5th in sand saves, he is not in the top ten in any other category. However, he is not lower than 28th in any category either. A very balanced game. His great bunker play may give him an advantage this weekend as well, as Fallen Oak is heavily lined with deep, numerous sand traps.
The top money winner so far on the Champions Tour is Fred Couples, who is playing in North Carolina this week on the regular tour. #2 on the money list, Bernhard Langer, is in the field, and a strong favorite along with Price, who, as mentioned is 3rd on the money list. Tom Watson at #4 is skipping this event. Rounding out the top five is Mark O’Meara, who is also in the field.
There is rain in the forecast for the first round on Friday, although the weekend looks more promising.