November 6 2013
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
When Tom Fazio was brought to Sea Island more than a decade ago to merge the Seaside and Marshside nines, the story goes, Davis Love III warned that if he changed the historic Seaside layout, “I’ll lie down in front of the bulldozer.”
Though some alterations were unavoidable in a nod to modern technology, the short par-4 16th hole offers a timeless challenge that tests McGladrey Classic competitors as profoundly as it might have when the resort opened in 1928.
“You could three-putt [the shallow green] just as easily – for sure more times you're going to make it,” Heath Slocum said after his 2010 victory in the inaugural Classic, punctuated by a 60-foot birdie at No. 16.
Each of the tournament’s first three winners, in fact, has birdied No. 16 on Sunday before collecting the trophy. Ben Crane and defending champ Tommy Gainey did it as part of furious finishes from well off the pace.
Measuring 407 yards, players must decide how much to bite off with their tee shots. A tidal creek runs along the left side of the landing area, but straying too far to the right results in a longer approach to the green.
The ideal play is to hit the fairway’s left side, leaving anything from a 6-iron to a wedge into a green that features a false front on the left and protected by a bunker on the right. Though the green is wide, its shallow design can be tough for approach shots to hold.
That’s what happened to Slocum, who found himself perhaps three inches off the putting surface when his ball came to rest in 2010’s final round. The putt held its line, though, giving him a one-stroke win over Bill Haas.
One group earlier, David Toms had three-putted from 15 feet to fall from a share of the lead.
A year ago, Gainey drained a 20-foot birdie at No. 16 for last of seven consecutive 3s on his Sunday scorecard as he charged from seven shots back to begin the day.