By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
Though TPC Southwind boasts a smaller version of the iconic island green at TPC Sawgrass, it isn’t the par-3 where competitors at the FedEx St. Jude Classic typically find the greatest trepidation.
That honor belongs to No. 14 – a downhill poke that measures 239 yards, demanding strategic placement on a small green guarded by water more than halfway around.
“The hole comes at a pivotal place on the course, and there are no places to miss,” said 2003 PGA Championship winner Shaun Micheel, who grew up in Memphis.
Only two PGA TOUR holes amassed more double bogeys or worse last year, with 38 over four days falling just shy of No. 13 at Kiawah Island (45) and the 18th at TPC Blue Monster (40).
Overall, No. 14 ranked 37th on last year’s ranking of hardest holes and seventh-toughest among the par 3s. Only a few years ago, it ranked as high as fifth overall.
Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that most players are happy to exit with a “3” every day. Among the tournament’s past six winners, just two birdies have been recorded -- and two bogeys, both in Lee Westwood’s victory two years ago.
In windy conditions, the most prudent play might be to hit to the collection area short and left of the green and try for an up-and-down par.
Water fronts the entire length of a diagonal green that runs from short left to back right. The green also pinches in at the middle, creating the effect of almost two separate putting surfaces.
“It’s probably only 10 paces deep in the middle,” said 2007 champion Woody Austin, suggesting a back-right pin position poses the greatest danger. “You don’t want to be short – that’s water – and you don’t want to be over – that’s bunker. So there’s really not much room to aim at.”