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Golf

Packard, 99, remains proud of his Copperhead design

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 03:19 PM
PALM HARBOR -

For more than four decades, 99-year-old Larry Packard has seen the world's best golfers take on the devilish Copperhead layout he designed to test their prodigious skills.

Each time they walk away lugging black numbers, Packard's smile grows a little wider.

An Innisbrook resident who designed all four of the resort's golf courses, Packard was stationed in a skybox overlooking Copperhead's 18th green during Sunday's final round of the Transitions Championship.

"This course isn't perfect … but it's nearly perfect," said Packard, who has overseen more than 250 golf projects since 1947, including courses in South Korea, Venezuela, Guatemala and Egypt. "You're trying to make these guys play every shot and use every club and I'll put this up against any course out there."

Many of the golfers in this field continue to praise Packard's 7,340-yard layout as one of their favorite courses on the PGA Tour.

When Packard hits the century mark in November, he'll probably celebrate his birthday in Packard's Steakhouse, the signature Innisbrook restaurant that bears his name.

"All these years later, I wouldn't change very much about this golf course," said Packard, who completed the design of Copperhead in 1970. "It makes me very happy that so many of these golfers can't break par here."

Early riser

Scott Piercy began the final day eight strokes back, but a tournament-record 29 on the front side vaulted him into contention before the leaders had even teed off.

Piercy found himself in a zone with seven birdies on the front, including three putts from 20 feet or longer. He added two more birdies on the back side to finish with a bogey-free 62.

"Yesterday was terrible," said Piercy, who posted three bogeys Saturday en route to a 2-over 73. "I didn't have a lot of expectations for today, but I was reading greens well and the greens were really smooth this morning."

In registering his only PGA Tour win, Piercy reeled off eight consecutive birdies in a third-round 61 last year as he topped the field at the Reno-Tahoe Open.

Ira Kaufman

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