DORAL, Fla. – The Blue Monster’s famed finishing hole depends on prevailing winds as its chief defense at Doral, but after the passing of some predicted storms the winds aren’t forecast to offer much of a defense Thursday in the first round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
The winds can change that hole dramatically, making it one of the easier finishing holes on Tour or one of the toughest.
The Blue Monster’s 18th ranked as the 101st toughest hole on the PGA Tour last year. It was the second toughest hole on Tour in 2009. It was the toughest in 2004.
The prevailing winds are forecast to blow eary in the first round, moderately from the southeast at 10-12 mph, but they’re projected to turn around and begin blowing moderately from the west later in the afternoon, with isolated thunderstorms coming in the middle of the afternoon.
“That hole is really, really difficult into the wind, especially when it’s into you off the left,” Zach Johnson said. “It’s still really, really difficult downwind and really difficult in no wind. I think it’s still the most difficult finishing hole on Tour.”
The drama this finishing hole has created on the PGA Tour built the hole's grand reputation. While Craig Parry holed that straight-arrow 6-iron from 176 yards for eagle to beat Scott Verplank in a playoff there in 2004, Ben Crenshaw is the only player in the 46-year history of the Doral’s PGA Tour stop to win with a birdie at the 72nd hole.
The 18th hole is known more for its spectacular failures. Gardner Dickinson and Tom Weiskopf made double bogeys there in their Sunday duel in 1968, with Dickinson winning by a shot. Jack Nicklaus made bogeys there in 1978 and 1980 and lost. Greg Norman and Nick Faldo both found the water there in 1995, Norman cranking a 6-iron so far left he nearly hit the floating scoreboard in the middle of the lake and Faldo winning with a magical 3-wood recovery.