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October 2 2013

6:00 PM

Will the 14th prove to be tempting?

Muirfield Village's 14th hole offers a risk-reward possibility this week.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Zach Johnson didn't even wait to hear the whole question.

"I can interrupt you, there's no temptation for me," he said firmly.

Even if the tees are moved up this week at Muirfield Village's 14th hole, a 325-yard par 4, don't look for the recent winner of the BMW Championship to take out the big stick and try to drive the green.

"It's not even an option," Johnson said. "It's an iron and then a wedge regardless of where the pin is for me." 

The hole features a downhill tee shot to a tree-lined valley with a creek on the left that angles across the fairway and eventually frames the right side of an elongated green. There are ample bunkers to the left side of the green, as well, to catch errant shots.

But did we mention, it's just over 300 yards? Surely someone will be tempted.

Maybe, maybe not. Phil Mickelson, who has been known to take a few chances here and there, agrees with Johnson's assessment.

"14 will be up to each player, but as a player who likes to go for it, even I have a hard time of understanding the advantage of going for it," Mickelson said. "Very simply put, there's water right, bunkers left with a green that's so severely pitched, you can't stop it on the green.
   
"There's no place to miss it; and the target is so much smaller than the fairway that I'm going to hit 6-iron and a wedge in, unless we move up to another 40 yards to the ladies tee where it's a 240-yard hole or something like that, it will be a lay up. I don't anticipate many of our guys if any going for it."

Mickelson's partner, Keegan Bradley, sees the risk and acknowledges it might be greated than the reward.

"It's very difficult to make birdie on that hole if you go for it and don't hit the green," Bradley said. "I think you're going to see a lot of guys still laying up on that hole because it's so brutal. But it's definitely right there. Pretty much everybody in the field is going to be able to at least contend to hit it on the green."

Webb Simpson, who plays with Bill Haas on Thursday, says certain pins might be more tempting than others. Ditto for how the match stands.

"I think there's so many different types of strategy," Simpson said. "I mean, depending on who is up first, where you stand in the match, I certainly think the right pins make more sense to go for it because if the pin is on the left side and you're left of the green where you are going to hit it, you don't have a chance to get it close.
   
"... Again, if you go into the hole and you're three up, it kind of makes sense to me to hit two irons down there so you have two birdie putts. But I think you'll see game time decisions there where I might have a driver out hitting second and they both hit it in the water and I'll hit iron."

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