First-timers talk famed TPC Sawgrass 17th hole

By Ryan LavnerMay 8, 2013, 7:18 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Luke Guthrie was pleasantly surprised when he stepped onto the 17th tee box earlier this week.

“In practice rounds it’s like the biggest green on the course, and you’re so close to it. It looks longer and harder on TV,” he said Wednesday. “I can only imagine when I get to the hole tomorrow, though. Once it’s under the gun, with shots that really matter, it’s going to be a different story.”

If the watery par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass isn’t the most intimidating hole in golf, it’s at least in the conversation.

The Players: Articles, videos, photos | GC coverage | Social Lounge

“You think about it before you drive in the gate,” Nick Faldo said.

“You have to go through the nervous gauntlet,” Johnny Miller added.

So imagine how this week’s first-timers feel.

Right now, a day before the start of The Players, the strongest and richest tournament in golf, they exude calm, even confidence.

Just look at James Hahn.

Two years ago, he played here during a pro-am for the Tour event. That day there was no wind, the tee box was moved up to about 135 yards, the hole location was accessible, and he required only a pitching wedge.

Fast-forward two years, to this past Monday. The hole was longer (about 147 yards), and there was a crosswind, and Hahn couldn’t figure out the direction, and even during a practice round he was nervous, and he hit a cut 8-iron hoping it would carry the water and the bunker and the ridge and safely find the middle of the green. It did. 

“It’s easier than it looks on TV,” he said, “but come talk to me at the end of the tournament to see if I have the same answer.”

Charlie Beljan doesn’t get fazed by much. After all, this is the same guy who had a panic attack during the second round at Disney, spent the night in the hospital and went on to win his first PGA Tour event.

“I thrive off the people,” said Beljan, who lists the raucous par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale as his favorite hole in golf.

“This is a pitching-wedge shot. If it didn’t have water around it, we wouldn’t even talk about it.”

Was hitting the tee shot harder or easier than he expected?

“I’d say easier,” he said. “I was shocked when I stood on the tee. It’s right there in front of you.”

During a practice round Sunday, he hit three tee shots. Two found the putting surface, while the third came up about 20 yards short. In the middle of the pond.

“Wind gusts make the hole difficult,” Beljan said.

And so do the nerves, the thousands of fans watching and the $1.71 million payout on the line.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

Getty Images

Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm