By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
Regular entrants at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open will find quite literally a smaller margin for error this week when they come to TPC Summerlin’s drivable par-4 15th.
A swath of perhaps 20 yards of greenery left of the 15th green was torn up and returned to the desert during renovations this summer. The change removed more than half of the cushion for drives that miss in that direction.
“Previously, you could miss it as far as 30 yards left and be in grass or a bunker,” said Dale Hahn, TPC Summerlin’s superintendent. “Now you only have a 10- to 15-yard buffer zone. Some people are going to find themselves in the desert [after missing] left, I’m sure of that.”
Measuring 341 yards, No. 15 is in driving range for a majority of players in the field. Missing the green, though, does not leave a routine up-and-down for birdie.
The long, narrow green is elevated, with drastic undulations that leave the possibility of steering chip attempts away from certain pin positions. Five bunkers also guard the putting surface, finding plenty of activity.
The hole has ranked as TPC Summerlin’s third-easiest in recent years, behind two of the course’s par-5s. But it’s worth noting that No. 15’s eagle total has risen in recent years, going from five in both 2009 and 2010 to last year’s total of 10 eagles.
Most of last year’s eagle came in the early rounds, including one each from winner Ryan Moore and runner-up Brendon de Jonge. Just one final-round eagle has been recorded in the past three years, and Graham DeLaet was well off the pace when he did it in 2010.
The best performance at No. 15 in recent editions has come from Martin Laird in 2010, when he used three birdies and an eagle to help reserve a spot in a three-way playoff. That was the year Jonathan Byrd took the crown with a walkoff ace at No. 17.