By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
Of the various drivable par 4s scattered around the PGA TOUR these days, few entice players to take on the challenge more than No. 17 at CordeValle Golf Club.
Nor does any reward the daring so handsomely.
According to ShotLink data, CordeValle’s 17th led the PGA TOUR last year for par-4 drives that stopped on the putting surface – one-third of all who made the attempt during last year’s Frys.com Open.
The result was eight eagles, which amounted to a greater total than two of CordeValle’s three par 5s. Even for those who missed the green, 65 percent still walked away with birdies – another TOUR-leading number.
“Seventeen is a good risk-reward hole for certain people,” said Rocco Mediate, who won the 2010 Frys.com Open in its first appearance at CordeValle.
With an official measurement of 358 yards, No. 17 is guarded by water on the right from tee to green. The green is flanked by two bunkers on the left and a large one on the right, with a small bunker in front.
A mound, though, rises behind the putting surface to create a backboard for those who try to drive the green.
During the tournament’s first two days, a back tee is utilized to keep play moving.
“I don't know how long it is from the back tee,” Mediate said, “but I don't know of anybody that could drive on that green (from there). I'm sure there’s some.”
The fireworks come on the weekend when the tee moves forward. As the next-to-last hole on Sunday, it’s the last chance for someone from off the back to take a chunk out of the lead.
Or one could try to emulate Mediate’s approach during the final round in 2010.
He laid up off the tee, then holed out a wedge that propelled him to a one-shot triumph over Alex Prugh and Bo Van Pelt.
“That was a cool tee box because it changed the entire situation,” Mediate recalled. “If you’re one or two back – unless you lay up in the fairway and (hole out) like I did – then you can make a change.”
Prugh, by the way, holds the mark for best performance over four days at No. 17. The Washington native birdied the first two rounds and eagled the last two for a 6-under aggregate. That same year, Chris DiMarco played the hole in 5 under.