Top 10 Finishing Holes

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 26, 2009, 5:00 pm

harbour town top 10
No. 10 ' Harbour Town Golf Links
Verizon Heritage
Par-4, 452 yards

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Pete Dye: I think the out-of-bounds right dominates this hole. Theres plenty of room left but the more left you go, why, there's water so it just works on players minds and that's what the problem is.
Jerry Kelly: It's the widest fairway on Tour and it's still a tough drive. Up at the green the only bailout is short right and that's where you find just about everybody. It's still a tough up and down.
Nick Faldo: I think it needs a bunker in the middle of the fairway. An 80-yard-wide fairway? That's too easy these days. Id throw a bunker right in the middle so you have to make a choice of going left or right.
Woody Austin: The green is such a sliver especially because the wind is never straight in or straight down.

kapalua top 10
No. 9 ' Plantation Course at Kapalua
Mercedes-Benz Championship
Par-5, 663 yards

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Jonathan Byrd: At the Mercedes-Benz Championship it always seems to be close coming down to the last hole. You've got a par-5, you've got a lot that can happen. It's such a big fairway that if you hit it in a 50-yard area it's going to get down that speed slot, so you almost get on that tee and say, Just don't hit a bad shot.
Dr. Robert Winters, sports psychologist: Its the longest hole on Tour but it's downwind, downhill most of the time. It's still a great hole though, because you've got to really be thinking that tee shot through.
Jerry Foltz, Golf Channel: Everything is an uneven lie ' uphill, downhill, side hill, whatever ' and the wind is always blowing. But if you chunk it or whiff it or you thin it, you're in the drink to the left and you're making at least a bogey. It's one of the top-five finishing holes on Tour in my mind.

quail hollow top 10
No. 8 ' Quail Hollow Club
Wachovia Championship
Par-4, 478 yards
Ken Duke: Sitting on the top of that hill visualizing down the fairway, you can't go left, obviously, and you can't go right because you've got the trees and the bunkers so you really just have to focus on it and hit it down the middle.
Woody Austin: You can't get there out of the fairway bunker unless you're one of the Louie-Long-Balls who can hit their 5-iron 220 yards out of the fairway bunker straight up, which I don't have.
Sean OHair: It can be one of those holes where you make birdie after hitting a good second shot or it can be one of those holes where you hit two good shots and still 3-putt and walk away scratching your head thinking, What just happened? Its definitely a hole where every single shot demands a 100% focus and concentration.

riviera top 10
No. 7 ' Riviera Country Club
Northern Trust Open
Par-4, 475 yards
Robert Allenby: The year I won, on Friday I hit 9-iron and then in the playoff I hit 3-wood.
Brandel Chamblee, Golf Channel: Its been beat up a little bit by technology, but in terms of all the history that has unfolded here and the beauty and the strategy of the hole, it's tough to beat.
Scott Verplank: Basically, you have a left-to-right stance and you need to hit a right-to-left shot, and the green slopes away from you.
Nick Faldo: Its one of the character holes on Tour.
Brian Hewitt, There's something just beguiling about it. There's a mystic there that's very hard to describe.
Steve Flesch: For the second shot its just hard to judge the distance because the green sits on an angle at an elevation where it's hard to see how far up there on the green you have to land it. Two long, high, well-struck shots is the only way to play No. 18 at Riviera.

valhalla top 10
No. 6 ' Valhalla Golf Club
Ryder Cup, PGA Championship
Par-5, 547 yards
Dr. Robert Winters: I had the great pleasure of being at Valhalla before they had the clubhouse; they had the golf course all sodded and prepared. I was standing on the 18th tee talking with one of the board of directors and not that Im some 21st century Nostradamus, but I looked at him and I said, Im dead serious, this hole right here is set up for great golf.
Ray Floyd: To reach this green in two you've got to drive the ball in the fairway. Left is bad, right's worse.
Kenny Perry: The first match [of the Ryder Cup] I hit it in the water on 18. There's history with me on the 18th hole. For some reason it hates me.
Hunter Mahan: You can make birdie, you can make eagle, and you can make a bogey. A lot of things can happen. I think it's a great match play hole.

doral top 10
No. 5 ' Doral Golf Resort & Spa
WGC CA Championship
Par-4, 467 yards

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Scott Hoch: I have fond memories of this hole and it's also bit me a number of times too.
Steve Flesch: It's a great par-5 as far as Im concerned. Going into that hole if I made two 5s and two 4s Id be totally happy.
Tom Abbott, Golf Channel: We've seen the best player in the world play that as a par-5. That tells you how difficult it really is.
Curtis Strange: When you think about a hole before you get to that tee it shows me there's something other than, Its a tough golf hole. It gets in your psyche. I hate to admit this but when I was playing well my strategy on how to play 18 would dictate how well I was playing in the round.
Ken Duke: It's just plain intimidating. You've got to pop it pretty good to get on that left side. Then you've got another 210 or so into the green.

bay hill top 10
No. 4 ' Bay Hill Club
Arnold Palmer Invitational
Par-4, 441 yards
Mike Johnson, Golf Digest: For some reason the tournament always seems to come down to this hole. A lot of it has to do with the fact that it's Arnie's tournament and you know Arnies there watching the finish.
Rex Hoggard, Give the best player in the world three chances to make par on that hole and he may get it one time. That, to me, is a tough hole.
Brandel Chamblee: It's a brutal hole. That green back there is no wider than two or three coffee table lengths.
Steve Flesch: Knowing how they always set up Bay Hill with the four-to-five-inch rye grass rough, getting it in the fairway off the 18th tee is paramount.
Bubba Watson: When that pin's tucked back right, it looks like a divot. You're trying to hit to a divot!

sawgrass top 10
No. 3 ' TPC Sawgrass
The Players Championship
Par-4, 462 yards

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Ryan Herrington, Golf Digest: Everyone talks about the par-5 16th because of the risk-reward and because of the ability to make an eagle or make a double bogey, and everyone obviously talks about the island green on the 17th. The 18th hole is as challenging a hole as there is on that golf course.
Stephen Ames: When you stand up on that tee and the wind's blowing hard off the left it's tough to slide it over the water and bring it back into the fairway. Sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn't. There's one particular little tree that sits out there about 290 yards. That's usually the only thing that I see when Im standing on that tee. That's the only thing you should be looking at.
Hal Sutton: At all costs youve got to hit the fairway. It's a tough, demanding second shot. A par's golden on this hole and if you get a birdie you got away with something.
Ryan Herrington: A par on this hole to win the Players Championship is as impressive a score as you're going to find in any big-time event.

carnoustie top 10
No. 2 ' Carnoustie Golf Links
The Open Championship
Par-4, 487 yards
Steve Sands, Golf Channel: The craziness thats happened on this hole validates how great it is. Its the best hole in the world with 18 on the tee box.
Brandel Chamblee: In terms of rating finishing holes, it might be the toughest hole in all of golf.
Alex Miceli, Golf Channel: Anyone who doesnt know what Barry Burn is, just ask Jean Van de Velde.
Rex Hoggard: In 08 we saw Padraig Harrington try to stick with his game plan and hit driver and see how that worked out. We had Sergio trying to lay back and give himself a chance just to put it in play. You had two of the best players at the time in the world and neither one of them could make a par.

pebble beach top 10
No. 1 ' Pebble Beach Golf Links
U.S. Open, AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Par-5, 543 yards

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Kay Cockrell, Golf Channel: When you're out there you feel the magic. You cannot not feel the magic.
Steve Burkowski, Golf Channel: There are definitely more difficult finishing holes but, seeing the Pacific crashing up on the left and the tree, it's one of those holes that really puts the exclamation point on one of the great golf courses in the entire world.
Ryan Herrington: It's very underrated as a closing hole because you have the ability to make a birdie, but youve got to come through in the clutch.
Pete Dye: If you take the ocean away, its a good golf hole. But what makes it a great hole is that the next thing thats out of bounds is Japan.
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HOFer Stephenson: Robbie wants to play me in movie

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 4:20 pm

Margot Robbie has already starred in one sports-related biopic, and if she gets her way a second opportunity might not be far behind.

Robbie earned an Academy Award nomination for her work last year as former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding in the movie, I Tonya. She also has a desire to assume the role of her fellow Aussie, Jan Stephenson, in a movie where she would trade in her skates for a set of golf clubs.

That's at least according to Stephenson, who floated out the idea during an interview with Golf Australia's Inside the Ropes podcast shortly after being announced as part of the next class of World Golf Hall of Fame inductees.

"We've talked about doing a movie. Margot Robbie wants to play me," Stephenson said.

There certainly would be a resemblance between the two Australian blondes, as Robbie has become one of Hollywood's leading ladies while Stephenson was on the cutting edge of sex appeal during her playing career. In addition to several magazine covers, Stephenson also racked up 16 LPGA wins between 1976-87 including three majors.

Robbie, 28, has also had starring roles in Suicide Squad and The Wolf of Wall Street.

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Monday Scramble: Who's No. 1 ... in the long run?

By Ryan LavnerOctober 22, 2018, 4:00 pm

Brooks Koepka becomes golf’s new king, Sergio Garcia enjoys the Ryder Cup bump, Danielle Kang overcomes the demons, Michelle Wie goes under the knife and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble:

Brooks Koepka added an exclamation point to his breakout year.

His red-hot finish at the CJ Cup not only earned him a third title in 2018, but with the victory he leapfrogged Dustin Johnson to become the top-ranked player in the world for the first time.

That top spot could become a revolving door over the next few months, with Johnson, Justin Thomas and Justin Rose all vying for No. 1, but it’s a fitting coda to Koepka’s stellar year that included two more majors and Player of the Year honors.

For a player whose team searches long and hard for slights, there’s no questioning now his place in the game.

1. DJ won three events this season, but he wasn’t able to create much separation between him and the rest of the world’s best players.

Koepka’s rise to No. 1 made him the fourth player to reach the top spot this year, and the third in the past month.

Who has the greatest potential to get to No. 1 and stay there? Johnson is the best bet in the short term, but he’s also 34. Koepka will be a threat in the majors as long as he stays healthy. So the belief here is that it’ll be Justin Thomas, who is 25, without weakness and, best of all, hungry for more success.  

2. Koepka had an eventful final round at the CJ Cup. Staked to a four-shot lead in the final round, his advantage was trimmed to one after a sloppy start, then he poured it on late with an inward 29. He punctuated his historic victory with an eagle on the 72nd hole, smirking as it tumbled into the cup.

It was his fifth career Tour title – but only his second non-major. Weird.

3. How appropriate that golf’s most underappreciated talent – at least in his estimation – became world No. 1 in a limited-field event that finished at 2 a.m. on the East Coast. Somehow he’ll spin this into being overlooked, again.

4. Sergio Garcia carried all of that Ryder Cup momentum into the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where he earned the hat trick by capturing his third consecutive title there.

While the rest of the world’s best gathered in Korea or rested for global golf’s finishing kick, Garcia won the weather-delayed event by four shots over Shane Lowry. Garcia’s foundation hosts the tournament, and he extended his crazy-good record there: In 14 career appearances at Valderrama, he has three wins, seven top-3s, nine top-5s and 13 top-10s.

Garcia, who went 3-1 at the recent Ryder Cup, became the first player since Ernie Els (2004) to win the same European Tour event three years in a row.

5. Gary Woodland probably doesn’t want 2018 to end.

He was the runner-up at the CJ Cup, his second consecutive top-5 to start the season. He made 11(!) birdies in the final round and now is a combined 37 under par for the first two starts of the new season.

6. This definitely wasn’t the Ryder Cup.

Four shots back, and the closest pursuer to Koepka, Ian Poulter had a chance to put pressure on the leader in the final round. Instead, he was left in the dust, mustering only three birdies and getting waxed by seven shots (64-71) on the last day. Poulter tumbled all the way into a tie for 10th.

7. It hasn’t been the easiest road for Danielle Kang since she won the 2017 Women’s PGA.

The 26-year-old said she’s dealt with anxiety for months and has battled both putting and full-swing yips. Her problems were so deep that a week ago, she stood over the ball for four minutes and couldn’t pull the trigger.

No wonder she said that she was “pretty stunned” to hold off a bevy of challengers to win her second career title at the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

“I’m finally at a place where I’m peaceful and happy with my game, with my life,” she said.

8. In the middle of the seven-way tie for second in China was Ariya Jutanugarn, who will return to No. 1 in the world for the second time this season.

9. Also in that logjam was another former top-ranked player, Lydia Ko, who had tumbled all the way to 17th. Ko hasn’t been able to build off of her slump-busting victory earlier this summer, but she now has six consecutive top-16 finishes and at least seems more comfortable in her new position.

“Sometimes you get too carried away about the awards and rankings,” she said. “It just becomes so much. I think it’s more important to keep putting myself there and … shooting in the 60s, and that way I think it builds the confidence and the rankings kind of sort itself out.”

Here's how Tiger Woods explained his pitiful performance at the Ryder Cup: “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf.”

Of course, he looked just fine a week earlier at East Lake, where he snapped a five-year winless drought with one of the most memorable weeks of his legendary career. His training wasn’t a topic of conversation there.

It's reasonable to expect that the emotional victory took a lot of out of him, but if he was so gassed, why did he sit only one team session and go 36 on Saturday? By Sunday night, Woods looked like he was running on empty, so either he wasn't upfront with captain Jim Furyk about his energy levels, or Furyk ran him out there anyway.

This week's award winners ...  

Can’t Catch a Break: Michelle Wie. The star-crossed talent announced that she’ll miss the rest of the season to undergo surgery to repair a troublesome hand injury. Maybe one of these years she’ll be able to play a full schedule, without physical setbacks.  

Grab the Mic: Paul Azinger. Taking Johnny Miller’s seat in the booth, Azinger will call all four days of action at every Golf Channel/NBC event, beginning at the WGC-Mexico Championship. He was the most logical (and best) choice to follow the inimitable Miller.

Take That, Dawdler: Corey Pavin. It was Pavin – and not the notoriously slow Bernhard Langer – who earned the first slow-play penalty on the PGA Tour Champions in what seemed like ages. The one-shot penalty dropped him to 15th in the event.

Long Time Coming: Jason Day. His tie for fifth at the CJ Cup was his best finish worldwide since … The Players? Really. Wow.

The Tumble Continues: Jordan Spieth. In the latest world rankings, Spieth is officially out of the top 10 for the first time since November 2014. A reminder that he finished last year at No. 2.

Clutch Performances: Andalucia Masters. Both Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Richie Ramsay both moved inside the top 116 in the Race to Dubai standings, securing their European Tour cards for next season. Gonzo tied for fifth in the regular-season finale, while Ramsay was joint 11th.

That’s Messed Up: CJ Cup purse. As colleague Will Gray noted, the purse for the 78-man event was $9.5 million – or $400K more than the first 15 events of the Tour schedule combined. The difference between the haves and have-nots has never been larger.

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Justin Thomas. The defending champion never could get started in Korea, closing with his low round of the week, a 4-under 68, just to salvage a tie for 36th. Sigh.  

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Azinger: 'Can't see anybody beating Tiger' at his best

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:44 pm

There's a new world No. 1, and a fresh crop of young guns eager to make their mark on the PGA Tour in 2019. But according to Paul Azinger, the player with the highest ceiling is still the same as it was when he was walking inside the ropes.

Azinger was named Monday as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports, and on "Morning Drive" he was asked which player is the best when all are playing their best. The former PGA champion pondered new world No. 1 Brooks Koepka and former No. 1 Dustin Johnson, but he came back around to a familiar answer: Tiger Woods.

"I just can't see anybody beating Tiger when Tiger's at his best. I just can't see it," Azinger said. "He's not his best yet, but he's almost his best. And when Tiger's his best, there's more that comes with Tiger than just the score he shoots. That crowd comes with Tiger, and it's a whole 'nother dynamic when Tiger's at his best. And I'm just going to have to say that when Tiger's at his best, he's still the best."

Woods, 42, started this year ranked No. 656 in the world but had a resurgent season that included a pair of near-misses at The Open and PGA Championship and culminated with his win at the Tour Championship that ended a five-year victory drought. For Azinger, the question now becomes how he can follow up a breakthrough campaign as he looks to contend consistently against players from a younger generation.

"That's why we watch, to see if he can maintain that. To see what he's capable of," Azinger said. "Now longevity becomes the issue for Tiger Woods. In seven or eight years, he's going to be 50 years old. That goes fast. I'm telling you, that goes really fast."

When Woods returns to action, he'll do so with a focus on the upcoming Masters as he looks to capture the 15th major title that has eluded him for more than a decade. With bombers like Koepka and Johnson currently reigning on the PGA Tour, Azinger believes the key for Woods will be remaining accurate while relying on the world-class iron play that has been a strength throughout his career.

"I think he's going to have to recognize that he's not the beast out there when it comes to smacking that ball off the tee. But I'd like to see him try to hit a couple more fairways periodically. That'd be nice," he said. "If he can drive that ball in the fairway, with that putter, we've seen what his putter is capable of. The sky's the limit, boys."

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Spieth drops out of top 10 for first time since 2014

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:08 pm

As Brooks Koepka ascended to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking, a former No. 1 continued a notable decline.

Jordan Spieth didn't play last week's CJ Cup, where Koepka won by four shots. But Jason Day did, and his T-5 finish in South Korea moved him up two spots from No. 12 to No. 10 in the latest rankings. Spieth dropped from 10th to 11th, marking the first time that he has been outside the top 10 in the world rankings since November 2014.

Since that time, he has won 12 times around the world, including three majors, while spending 26 weeks as world No. 1. But he hasn't won a tournament since The Open last July, and this year he missed the Tour Championship for the first time in his career. Spieth is expected to make his season debut next week in Las Vegas at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

Koepka and Day were the only movers among the top 10 on a week that saw many top players remain in place. Sergio Garcia's rain-delayed win at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters moved him up four spots to No. 27, while Gary Woodland went from 38th to 30th after finishing second behind Koepka on Jeju Island.

Koepka will tee off as world No. 1 for the first time this week at the WGC-HSBC Champions, where new No. 2 Dustin Johnson will look to regain the top spot. Justin Rose is now third in the world, with Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Day rounding out the top 10.

With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods remained 13th in the world for the fifth straight week.