Trouble lurks both long and short on the 219-yard 12th hole at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain.
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
With its picturesque 75-foot elevation drop from tee to green, Dove Mountain’s 12th hole provokes a deep breath from players sandwiched between a pair of monstrous par-5s at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship.
Don’t relax too much, though.
The par-3 hole features perhaps the shallowest green on the course, with trouble lurking both long and short. Though it’s too early to end a match at No.12, a casual look at past years indicates a score change happens anywhere from one-third to half the time.
“You’re not going to be thinking of birdies,” Charl Schwartzel said, “but the last thing you want to do is make bogeys and give it all away. If you’re up first, you are probably going for the middle of the green and trying to put some pressure on your opponent.”
At 219 yards downhill, the tee shot is 5- or 6-iron territory for most players. But temperatures in the high desert – it’ll be 40 degrees some mornings this week, near 70 on weekend afternoons – and any wind make club selection vital.
“Because there’s such an elevation change, there’s a little bit of a guessing game how short or how long it’s going to play,” said world No.1 Rory McIlroy. “You’ve really got to get your club selection right.”
Said Graeme McDowell: “Over the back is no good, so you really want to keep it short of the pin there.”
A pot bunker, though, fronts the green’s front side and presents a difficult up-and-down. Sandy desert also meanders up to the green’s front right. The putting surface’s contour also sets up a dicey birdie chance from the middle to a right-side pin position.
“That putt is more difficult than the chip behind the green,” said Martin Kaymer, the 2011 runner-up and the man who stroked Europe’s winning putt at last autumn’s Ryder Cup. “I know that chipping on the right side behind the green is OK.”
In match play, though, playing safe isn’t always an option.
“You're always reacting,” McDowell said. “If your opponent stands up there and stiffs one in there, of course you're going to take that aim. It's a good hole.”