SAN FRANCISCO – Olympic Club’s Lake Course is being set up for speed rather than comfort for the final turn. At least that was the impression GTC got this morning walking the closing holes with U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis.
The most dramatic set-up change for Sunday’s final round may be the par-5 16th hole, which has played primarily as a three-shot hole for most of the week at 670 yards. But for the final round officials have moved up three tee boxes and will play the hole at 569 yards.
The 16th will also play slightly downwind with the breeze pushing tee shots around the corner and to the left. “If guys can get around the corner they’ll have a shot (at the green),” said Tom O’Toole, chair of the USGA championship committee.
The hole location at the 16th, however, will be challenging to get to. Officials cut the hole three paces from the left edge and just eight paces onto the green.
The 17th is also being set up to tempt players to reach the green in two shots with officials using the forward tee box at 510 yards with a hole cut four paces from the back edge, prompting NBC Sports analyst Johnny Miller to roll a putt from above the hole towards the large slope right of the green Sunday morning. The putt raced to the bottom of the hill with little effort.
“The course will play a little faster today,” Davis said.
On Saturday, Davis threw a curve ball at the field, moving the tee at the par-3 15th hole up to a forward teeing ground that was 107 yards away.
“I was putting the tee markers down and a lady who was a marshal asked, ‘Are you going to play it there? I don’t even play the hole from there,’” Davis laughed. Not sure who was laughing late Saturday after the hole played to a 3.056 average and yielded just eight birdies.
For Sunday’s closing round, Davis moved to the back tee and the hole will play 164 yards with a pin cut in the back right of the green.