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Past champs say new Fox Den tougher after Knoxville Open effort
Fox Den pro Thorley fails to make cut

Players coming into the 2005 Nationwide Knoxville Open were aware of the changes made to the Fox Den Country Club golf course itself, but were they aware of how their scores would be affected as well?

Just as many thought, putting was the biggest challenge presented to the golfers during the 16th annual Knoxville Open.

Two time PGA Tour winner Ted Tryba, 1999 Knoxville Open champ Jeff Gove and Fox Den head pro Dale Thorley each had a unique experience, though all three failed to make Friday’s cut.

For Tryba, the new course presented some challenges that were out the golfer's control.

"[Thursday] I thought the course played almost a bit out of control," Tryba said after a one-over-par 73 round. "It just kind of got to the point where the greens are very firm so the afternoon rounds the pin positions were just crazy."

The winner of the 1995 Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic and 1999 FedEx St. Jude Classic on the PGA Tour, Tryba, 38, did say things improved for Friday's round. "[Friday] played much fairer, obviously they put some water on them last night and it looks like even if it does get firm in the afternoon then the guys will have it a little bit easier because the pins are accessible," the Orlando resident said.

"The pins are in the backs of the greens so the ball will be able to release to the flag, so I think it will play a little easier today."

The afternoon rounds may have played easier on Friday, but Tryba struggled to a three-over-par 75 to make his overall score of 148 (four over par) two strokes shy of the two-over-par 146 cut.

Gove, a 34-year-old Seattle resident, had similar problems on the putting surface, scoring a three-over-par 75 on Thursday before settling down to a shoot an even par on Friday, missing the cut by only one stroke (147).

"I played pretty poorly, unfortunately," Gove said. "I missed the cut and I wanted to make the cut since I won here and enjoy coming back to Knoxville."

Putting proved to be a major factor in Gove's poor performance in this year's Knoxville Open. "I struggled with my putting and missed a couple of shots yesterday so it just wasn't my week," he said. "I made a birdie on eighteen which was good, I had some chances on the back nine but I missed four short putts and that will cost you."

While each player would have liked to have done better on the new Fox Den course, Tryba and Gove agree that the renovations to the course were great.

"The course is good, it's really good, it needs a little maturity but I think the layout is really nice so I look forward to coming back if I am on this tour and I'm sure it will be better next year," Gove said. "I think the shot value is better, there are better targets out there and it seems like the other greens have just gotten so big and the newer greens are going to be a little bit tougher when you grow the rough in."

As for the overall layout, Tryba thinks that they did a fantastic job.

"I hope everybody here is pleased and I know the tournament is trying to do everything they can but the situation [Thursday] I thought for the afternoon wave got a bit out of control," he said. "I played here once before and the course had really thick poetic greens where the ball held a lot and there were some pretty big putting surfaces out there."

Tryba referred to his 1990 Knoxville Open appearance where he finished tied for 35th place, shooting two under par.

"It's just so new, these greens have just been done, they need to be irrigated once or twice maybe three times within the next eight or nine months and add some soft top dressing, they are just firm, they are beautiful surfaces, they did a great job out here, but it’s just that that's the situation." he said. "I think that that's going to be the situation with anywhere you go where something like that is done. You have a clay base here so it's going to be really firm."

As for Thorley, an opening round of 78 and a second round of 73 led to an overall score of 151.

"Well I'm disappointed that there is not going to be two more days," he said. "I hit the ball better than I scored. I had a couple unforced errors that I could have prevented but other than that I'm very happy."

As for the experience of the tournament, "It's nice to play and I guess you can look back and say it was fun but I want to play two more rounds,” Thorley said.

Aside from his score of seven-over-par, Thorley is pleased how the course held up.

"The course is great, the greens are firm which we expected, the weather has been terrific, but I think the course has held up just perfect, we couldn't have asked for anything better," he said. "Every comment I've heard has been very positive, I don't think that our members could have asked for anything better right now."

See related Nationwide Knoxville Open story on champion Kim Felton and contender and former Farragut resident Troy Matteson beginning on page 1.


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