Insider: Travelers could have an ace in the par-4 15th hole

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Chris Condon/PGA TOUR
Ryan Moore has three top-10 finishes this season, including a fifth-place tie at the Wells Fargo Championship.
June 20, 2012
Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

Maybe it will happen this week.

Maybe this will be the week a player makes a hole in one on a par 4 for just the second time in PGA Tour history.

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It could happen.

The 296-yard par-4 15th hole at TPC River Highlands provides the best opportunity of the year. It's reachable for virtually every player in the field.

From an elevated tee, players see bunkers left, water left and a steep hillside to the right. They also see the front of the green just 282 yards away beckoning like a siren's song.

Some players listen, some steer clear of the temptation. In 2011, the hole played to a stroke average of 3.677 but with no aces.

There has been only one double eagle on a par 4 on The PGA TOUR. That came back on Jan. 25, 2001, courtesy of Andrew Magee on the 17th hole at TPC Scottsdale in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Any ace involves luck and Magee's tee shot on the 332-yard hole bounced onto the green, hit the head of Tom Byrum's putter and went into the cup.

Byrun had been lining up a birdie put and the entire group was startled when Magee's tee ball not only reached the green but deflected into the hole.

Magee was guilty of bad manners and of making history. No one has ever duplicated that double eagle on a par 4 but it could happen this week.

The 15th hole comes at a time in the round when players need to make something happen, need to take a chance and that green, just 282 yards away, is so inviting.

It's a dangerous play but also a smart play.

Driver takes the bunkers on the left out of play. It's just 237 yards past the five guardians to the left of the fairway.

There is also water on the left but players can keep a cutter in the air for 275 yards, work away from the hazard and then let the contours of the ground and green go to work.

The land slopes from right to left and will redirect that slice toward the green. At that point, luck has to play a part.

The green complex has a table-top plateau on the right then feeds down to a low point before the putting surface starts climbing again to the back of the green.

There is a horizontal ridge extending from 16 to 25 paces onto the green. Plus, there is a spine that runs down the middle and everything feeds from right to left.

One of these years, it's going to happen. We are going to have a hole in one at the 15th. You give enough PGA TOUR players enough swings, over enough years and the odds start to work in your favor.

So watch out Andrew Magee. They're gunning for you this week. One of these years, you're going to have company.

Maybe it will happen this week.

Observations

Party time: The Travelers always attracts one of the larger galleries of the year. It's hard to keep official numbers but this tournament might be second only to the Waste Management Phoenix Open for numbers of fans.

13th hole: The 15th hole offers great viewing and excitement but the par-5 13th hole provides a better scoring opportunity. In 2011 it played .369 under par and was the easiest hole on the course. Look for players to take advantage of both par 5s this week. There's only two of them on the par-70 course. The sixth hole ranks as the second-easiest at TPC River Highlands.

Golden Triangle: TPC River Highlands has a great three-hole stretch, 15-16-17. The 15th is a drivable par 4, the 16th a 171-yard par 3 over water and the 17th is a 420-yard par 4 back around the water. The trio isn't easy. It only played .365 under par last year but it has great drama and spectator viewing.

Target practice: There is a floating red umbrella in the lake fronting the 17th hole. It's a metal replica of The Travelers logo and makes a great target during practice rounds. Players take aim at that umbrella while standing on the 16th tee and from about 50 yards away try to get the ball to stop on that metal platform. Ever try to stop a golf ball on the hood of a car? That's what the shot requires and yet some players are able to pull it off.

The Pick

Ryan Moore: This is a brutal travel week for those who played in the U.S. Open. Tournament organizers provided a charter flight from San Francisco to entice players but it's still 3,000 miles and three time zones away. I think this week's winner is someone who did not play at The Olympic Club. Sorry, Webb. Instead, check out the numbers for Ryan Moore. He hasn't played since the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance so he should be fresh and has a great track record at TPC River Highlands. Moore has twice finished second at The Travelers. He'll be standing under a red umbrella after insuring victory on Sunday.

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