ATLANTA: Firestone Country Club’s “Monster” got Mickey Callaway on Monday, but not by much.
When the Indians pitching coach stepped onto the tee box at the South Course’s legendary 667-yard 16th hole, the 10-handicapper decided to put everything he had into his drive.
“I tried to hit it as far as I could,” Callaway said Tuesday before the Indians opened a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. “I hit it in the right spot, it filtered down to the left.”
Callaway said the caddie told him he hit it in nearly the same spot Tiger Woods did when he won his eighth World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational last month.
“Now my neck hurts today. I woke up this morning and I couldn’t move,” Callaway joked, referring to Woods’ recent back injury that he attributed to a bad mattress.
With 280 yards to the pin and his ball resting in the fairway’s first cut, Callaway said he decided to go for the green in two and took out his driver again. This time he found water.
“It was close to pin high,” he said. “I sliced it right.”
No matter the outcome, manager Terry Francona was impressed.
“It was two pretty good bolts,” Francona said of Callaway’s effort at 16.
And how did Francona fare at the hole dubbed “The Monster” by Arnold Palmer?
“I went like rough, rough, fairway, water,” Francona said.
Callaway had talked about playing Firestone for months, so when the plan was finally set for the Indians’ day off, he was clearly stoked. He said he and third-base coach Brad Mills beat Francona and first-base coach Mike Sarbaugh.
Francona’s day was not nearly as enjoyable.
“Firestone was good, I [stunk],” Francona said. “I was so disappointed in myself that I would play that bad on a course that nice. It was so pretty and I was just atrocious.”
Asked if his score was fit for print, Francona said, “I don’t even know what it was, but I just hit it awful.”
Francona made no excuses for the toughness of the course, which will host a professional tournament for the 60th consecutive year in 2014, or how long it had been since he last played.
“I played in Detroit about a month ago and shot like an 81,” Francona said. “[Monday] I never used the middle of the club. I haven’t played that bad in years.”
But he came away impressed with Akron’s jewel.
“I thought it was absolutely gorgeous and I saw every bit of it,” he said.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the her blog at http://www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.