The 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass has provided plenty of drama in recent years at THE PLAYERS.
(PGA TOUR photo)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
For all the wordage given to the iconic 17th hole during THE PLAYERS Championship, a little digging finds far less said than one might expect about the hole that follows.
The 462-yard 18th, after all, historically ranks as the toughest at TPC Sawgrass. Nor does it lack in drama, when you consider the catalog of memorable moments at THE PLAYERS that have transpired on the closing hole.
It’s where “Be the right club today!” went into PGA TOUR lexicon, as Hal Sutton’s 5-iron approach in 2000 stopped 8 feet from the hole for a birdie that allowed him to hold off Tiger Woods.
Two years later, Craig Perks chipped in from behind the green for a par that clinched his only PGA TOUR win. In 2004, Adam Scott’s march to victory suddenly got tense when his approach curled into the water left of the green – presenting him with a delicate chip to set up an eventual 10-foot bogey to win.
Nor is all the good stuff limited to winners. David Toms, with his ball sitting in a sand-filled divot two years ago, used a 6-iron to grit out a birdie that forced a playoff against K.J. Choi. Toms wound up falling on the first extra hole.
“Players really can’t escape the anxiety,” Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said.
Not only does the 18th green rank as the course’s toughest to hit in regulation, it’s the toughest to putt. Nor is the tee shot all that less daunting.
“(Designer Pete Dye) wanted you to see every piece of wood that meanders down the lake on the left side,” Golf Channel’s Frank Nobilo said of a tee box positioned hard left next to the shoreline.
Indeed, No. 18 ranks fifth-toughest in hitting the fairway, too.
The tee shot will have a slightly different look this year, with the loss of the big oak tree that guarded the right side of the landing area. Two large pine trees now stand in the same vicinity, though the overall effect remains to be seen.