What should be done with 17 at TPC Sawgrass?

By Rex HoggardMay 9, 2012, 8:10 pm

The par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass is the most infamous hole in golf and plays a massive role in determining who wins one of the most significant events in the sport, The Players Championship.

What should be done with this island hole? Should it be left as it is, be moved to earlier in the rotation or be blown up? GolfChannel.com writers weigh in.


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Leave it alone.

The 17th island hole worked the reality TV formula long before reality TV became popular.

Action at that hole has all the same ingredients in the sense that the reality there feels so forced and manufactured. The reality is architecturally contrived, the island and lake springing out of Pete Dye’s imagination.

There’s nothing natural about the hole.

As a player, I would hate that my fate on a Sunday may ride on a gust of wind, knowing there’s no way to show off my great-escape ability because there’s no getting up and down from the bottom of a lake.

The island hole never belonged as the 71st hole of an important championship, but I can’t help myself, I like it there anyway. I love it there. It’s a fan’s delight, maybe a sadist’s delight. And make no mistake, that hole belongs to the fans now. The shot is so intricately linked to the championship’s identity, it would damage the event to change that hole now.


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – There’s nothing wrong with TPC Sawgrass’ 17th hole that a little rerouting can’t fix.

As a standalone hole, the island-green 17th is all at once entertaining and challenging, not an easy trick for a 137-yard pitch-and-putt. The problem is not what it is so much as where it is in the Stadium Course’s batting order.

“Seventeen is a great hole, but not the 17th,” Tiger Woods said. “It’s a perfect eighth hole or something like that.”

It’s a compelling opinion for a player with a “better than most” moment on the penultimate hole during the 2001 Players when his winding 60-footer dropped in for an unlikely birdie.

As the eighth hole, for example, Pete Dye’s handiwork would be interesting, and just as demanding on a windy day, and yet still leave room for players to recover if they catch the wrong gust of wind.

In 2008 Sergio Garcia beat Paul Goydos in a playoff when the game’s most affable “Dirt Bag” caught the wrong wind at the wrong moment. A year earlier it was Sean O’Hair who was gust busted at No. 17.

So late in the order, however, too much is riding on luck. The rub of the green is part of golf, but too many tournaments have been decided by an untimely wind. That doesn’t identify the best player, just the one with the best timing.


PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – At the island-green 17th, there are more lanes on the road to ruin than Interstate 95. While it's impossible to prevent wrecks on the superhighway, the penultimate par 3 at the Stadium Course needs to be paved over with a replacement hole.

Even for a short shot, there are far too many variables at work for the hole to be a viable measure of a player's physical skill and mental fortitutde. The wind, the firmness of the green, the heat - they all combine for what can be an unpredictable and unfair hole.

A player can go in the water on three sides, or richochet into it off a bulkhead. They can hit it in one of the smallest bunkers on Tour. They might hit the green and face the possibility of putting it into the water.

Bottom line: too much can go wrong and not enough can go right for the hole to be a test worthy of a tournament bordering on major status.

As Luke Donald said Wednesday, the best par-3 holes are short ones. The length of the 17th is not an issue, but rather the options for recovery. Enlarge the peninsula to allow for a collection area. Replace the water with sand, even if raking would be a nightmare. 

If Pete Dye and the Tour insist on having so much water, however, land lock the green and create an island tee box.

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McIlroy battles back into tie for BMW PGA lead

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 4:09 pm

Rory McIlroy got off to a rocky start on Saturday in the third round of the BMW PGA Championship, including hitting a spectator and making a double bogey. But after that incident on the sixth hole, he didn't drop another shot, birdieing the final hole to shoot a 1-under 71 and tie for the lead.

McIlroy had gone into Moving Day with a three-shot lead, but Francesco Molinari had the round of the day, a 6-under 66. "It was nice keep a clean scorecard," said Molinari, who hasn't made a bogey since the 10th hole on Friday.

McIlroy and Molinari will be paired in Sunday's final round. They are tied at 13 under par, four shots clear of Ross Fisher, Branden Grace, Sam Horsfield and Alexander Noren.


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Watch: McIlroy hits spectator on hand

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 2:58 pm

We never cease to wonder at how close fans crowd in to the intended line of some shots, and just how skilled Tour players are in not hitting someone.

But every once in a while, golf ball and spectator intersect, with painful results. It happened to Rory McIlroy during the third round of the BMW PGA Championship, after he had hit a wayward drive on the sixth hole. Attempting to hack out his second shot from under a bush, McIlroy struck a female spectator on her right hand. There was no official word on her condition, but she was clearly - and understandably - in pain.

McIlroy went on to make double bogey but was able to put the incident behind him, as he promptly birdied the next hole.

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Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

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Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''