January 23 2013
The par-5 18th at Torrey Pines provides plenty of risk-reward. (Miralle/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
After last year’s Sunday misadventure, the pond that fronts the 18th green at Torrey Pines’ South course might have borne Kyle Stanley’s name -- if Bruce Devlin hadn’t locked up naming rights nearly four decades ago.
The only body of water inside course boundaries was dubbed “Devlin’s Billabong” after the Aussie carded a 10 in the final round of the 1975 Andy Williams San Diego Open.
Consider them bookend illustrations of the peril that lurks at No.18, a risk/reward par-5 that typically ranks as one of the easiest in what’s now the Farmers Insurance Open.
“If I'm Kyle, I would like to think that 18th hole owes me a lot of shots over the next few years,” said Brandt Snedeker, a playoff winner after Stanley’s wedge from 77 yards out on the final hole of regulation spun back into the water and led to a triple bogey.
That was the only “8” recorded all week. On the flip side, No.18 has provided no less drama with the birdie and eagle opportunities it provides.
Tiger Woods made it the centerpiece of his 2008 U.S. Open triumph, going eagle/birdie/birdie on his last three passes that included the Monday playoff. Each of the final two wiped out a one-shot deficit to Rocco Mediate.
Two years ago, a daring play by Phil Mickelson came oh-so-close to creating fireworks. Needing an eagle to force a playoff with Bubba Watson, he laid up after a poor drive, then sent caddie Jim Mackay to tend the flag as he struck a wedge from 72 yards out.
Mickelson came within a foot of jarring it, touching down inches left of the hole before coming to rest 4 feet away.
Measuring 536 yards, No. 18’s pinched-in landing area requires a good drive before the critical go/no-go decision. Either has risk, with a green that slopes back-to-front toward the water.
The pond was new in 1975 when Devlin barely found land, only to see the ball trickle back into shallow water. He compounded the problem by playing from the hazard seven times -- the first six coming back at him before knocking one 20 feet past the hole. The Aussie one-putted for the 10.