By Zak Kozuchowski, PGATOUR.COM
Matt Bettencourt made a key eagle on No. 9 at Montreux Golf and Country Club’s that helped the 36-year-old win for the first time last year on the PGA TOUR.
The par-5 hole could play an even bigger role in this year’s tournament. Officials have switched the front and the back nines, meaning the 616-yard par five will now become the finishing hole at the Reno-Tahoe Open.
The change allows for Montreux to be played as architect Jack Nicklaus originally intended. A flood destroyed No. 17 in January 1997, which had to be rebuilt in the spring of 1998. Since its inception in 1999, the Reno-Tahoe Open has played Montreux with the front and back nines reversed.
“I think it's definitely going to provide a great finish on 18,” Bettencourt said in a Wednesday press conference. “You can see a 3-6 combination, where last year's 18th hole it was pretty tough to have more than a shot -- or possibly a two-shot swing.”
The 17th hole (previously No. 8), is 464-yard par 4 that has played as the third toughest hole, and one of the most intimidating shots players face all year on TOUR.
“You have to just be very precise,” Bettencourt said. “You don't want to have a long iron into the green … But Jack, when he built the hole, he basically said, ‘If you want to have a short iron if you need to hit it further off the tee; if you want to hit a 6-iron or 5-iron off the tee or the wide part of the fairway, you're going to be left with a 7- or 8-iron.’ Well, the green's not set up for that.
The 16th hole (previously No. 7) is a 220-yard par-3 and the second toughest hole in tournament history.
“(It’s) a phenomenal par-3. You know, last year No. 16, it was a much shorter hole, so you were hitting anywhere from a 9-iron to a wedge. This year it's gonna be anywhere from a 4-iron to a 6-iron,” Bettencourt said. “So a lot more can happen on these last three finishing holes. You can see a 3- to 5-shot swing without a question.”