The 'Snake Pit' at the Copperhead course starts with a stern test at the par-4 16th. (Cohen/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
There aren’t many doglegs where the PGA TOUR’s top power hitters won’t even contemplate trying to slice off at least a part of the corner. Gary Woodland, though, keeps the head cover firmly on his driver when he reaches No. 16 at Innisbrook’s Copperhead course.
“We’re just trying to hit it 275 [yards] every day. We’ve just got to figure out how to get it there,” said Woodland, who won the Tampa Bay stop two years ago for his lone victory.
The 475-yard, sweeping dogleg actually appears to bend twice to the right – first at about those 275 yards, then again around the end of the pond that guards most of the fairway’s right side.
Standing at the entrance to the Copperhead’s closing “Snake Pit,” No. 16 ranks as the layout’s toughest hole over the event’s 12-year history.
“It’s just a weird position,” Woodland said. “You’ve got to hit it to a certain number. Into the wind or downwind, you’re hitting it to the same number every day. There’s really no advantage for me to hit driver way up there.”
Nor does the challenge end after the drive. Players still have another 200 yards to a crowned green with rolloffs on every side.
“That’s the really hard part about it,” defending champion Luke Donald said. “Once you hit the drive, it’s about getting the right distance. It’s an awkward angle and the green is like an upturned saucer in a way.”
Said Woodland: “Long’s not any better than short. It’s just one of those greens where you’ve got to hit it in the middle of the surface.”
No. 16 has been the Copperhead’s toughest each of the past three years, and last year’s 30 double bogeys or worse were one-third of the course’s total.
Sang-Moon Bae, past of last year’s four-man playoff that Donald captured, might have had enough for victory if not for a Saturday triple bogey at No. 16. Donald happily walked away with four pars.