DORAL, Fla. – If the southerly winds keep ripping like they did Thursday at the TPC Blue Monster, the 18th hole has a chance to reassert itself as the toughest hole on the PGA Tour.
Normally 467 yards, the tees were up 24 yards, and the hole still played to a 4.64 stroke average, higher than three of the par 5s at the WGC-CA Championship.
Torrey Pines’ 12th hole, a 504-yard par 4, holds the distinction as the toughest hole on Tour so far this season, having played to a 4.405 stroke average. The ranking is based on which holes play to the highest average above par.
The Blue Monster’s finishing hole ranked the second toughest on the PGA Tour last year, trailing only Hazeltine National’s 12th hole, a 518-yard par 4. Hazeltine was host to the PGA Championship. The Blue Monster's 18th last ranked as the Tour's toughest finishing hole in 2007.
Vijay Singh, Franceso Molinari, Ernie Els and Robert Allenby would have led or shared the lead at day's end if not for dropped shots at the 18th.
“I made birdie and it felt like an eagle,” Padraig Harrington said after he striped a 5-iron from 173 yards to 10 feet and holed the putt. It was one of just five birdies there on the day. “In fairness, today wasn’t even the toughest wind. It was blowing in and off the right. You want to play that hole tough? Play it when it’s in and off the left. The pin was its toughest position today up front.”
The winds were gusting more than 25 mph from the southeast most of Thursday.