In renovating Royal Montreal’s Blue course for the 2007 Presidents Cup, architect Rees Jones wound up tweaking 17 of the venerable layout’s 18 greens.
The exception: The par-4 16th, which needed no upgrade after giving the PGA TOUR’s best all they could handle at the 2001 Canadian Open.
Entrants walked away off No. 16 with bogey or worse a little over one-third of the time that week, including seven triple bogeys as players struggled with the water that hugs the left side of the fairway before cutting in front of the elevated green.
With a scoring average of 4.371, the hole ranked as fourth-toughest of 2001 that wasn’t part of a major championship.
Jones did shift the 16th tee during his upgrade, changing the angle of approach to create a lateral hazard instead of just a forced carry. Players now have to think twice about taking out their driver, looking for placement instead of distance.
The second shot must cross the water, with a huge bunker awaiting shots that miss short right. Less visible is the collection area to the left that will gather anything that misses in that direction.
The Sunday pin is likely to be on a plateau on the back right, behind the bunker.
Despite the challenges, the hole does have birdie possibilities.
While Woody Austin’s pratfall into the water alongside Royal Montreal’s 14th green is one of the lasting images from that Presidents Cup, few remember that his 6-iron to 6 feet at No. 16 began a run of three consecutive Austin birdies that allowed him and partner David Toms to halve their four-ball match against Trevor Immelman and Rory Sabbatini.
In the Sunday singles, Scott Verplank’s back-to-back birdies at Nos. 16 and 17 closed out a 2&1 victory over Sabbatini in the leadoff match that set the tone for the United States to close out their first victory on International soil.