PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass always provides plenty of drama, but it’s tough to top the par made by Will MacKenzie during the second round of The Players Championship.
After an opening 75, MacKenzie was already well outside the cut line when his 9-iron wouldn’t stop drawing and sailed over the island green, toward the water. Except, it didn’t end up in the water, instead bouncing high in the air and bounding down the narrow walkway that connects the green to the rest of the course.
“I’m like, ‘OK, that next shot is going to be dicey – you know, from the drop zone,’” MacKenzie said. “And then it hits the board, then it hits the little peninsula walkway.”
MacKenzie’s antics had only begun. Facing an unusual chip with little green to work with, he bounced a wedge off the walkway to within 5 feet of the hole. The gallery roared in approval, then applauded again when he made the putt for one of the most unconventional pars in the hole’s history.
“Lo and behold, I get up there and I know I can kind of play it off the walkway, possibly. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “I hit a pretty decent little shot up there, and you know I had to make the putt.”
MacKenzie’s par didn’t save his day, as another 75 meant a missed cut. It also wasn’t the only time the narrow isthmus came into play – Matt Kuchar hit a similar shot that ended up in the rough alongside a railroad tie separating land from water. With no stance as a right-handed player, Kuchar was forced to try a one-handed shot with his back to the hole.
“I got lucky that my ball stayed up, and unlucky where it ended up,” Kuchar said. “It’s one of those good and bad things.”
Kuchar’s backhanded wedge rolled to the front edge of the green, and the subsequent two-putt meant a costly bogey as the 2012 champ missed the cut by one. While the shot seemed unusual, Kuchar admitted it’s one he has tried before.
“Every now and then, you don’t have many options,” he said. “That’s kind of one I’ve done a handful of times.”