Golf Guy Grill Room: Best 3-hole stretch in golf

By The GolfMarch 2, 2012, 6:40 pm

With no disrespect to this week's Bear Trap (the par-3 15th, the par-4 16th and the par-3 17th) at PGA National, the Golf Guy has another set of holes that comprise the best three-hole stretch on the PGA Tour. There are plenty to choose from – and they don't have to have a cute nickname (see Amen Corner at Augusta or the Green Mile at Quail Hollow). This is the Golf Guy’s favorite three-hole stretch:

Augusta National’s 14th, 15th and 16th

The history, the drama, the building anticipation … this stretch delivers like no other – yes, cue Jim Nantz: “A traditional three-hole stretch unlike any other.” Let’s get the basics on the table quickly: It’s a major championship – the highest stakes in the game. And it’s the Masters. Also, it comes late in the round – when pressure, gagging and life-changing moments are at hand. As an added bonus, most of us now know the names of each hole – sadly, I know the names better than most of my friends kids' names. That said, let’s go to the tale of the tape:

Par-4, 14th  Chinese Fir: This comes on the heels of the world’s most famous three-hole stretch – Amen Corner. Thanks Herbert Warren Wind, but I’m naming my stretch, “Operation Destiny.” The 14th may seem a bit tame. But au contraire mon frère – the false front guarding the front of the green is daunting. Watching approach shots trickle back toward the fairway makes my stomach turn.

Par-5, 15th – Firethorn: Time to make hay – if you have the onions that is. A reachable par-5 that begs a player to go for it. The rewards are great, the risk possibly devastating. Quick history lesson: this is the hole that Gene Sarazen hit his 'shot heard 'round the world.' An all-time hole by itself.

Par-3, 16th – Redbud: Are you kidding? This hole makes me goes nuts every year. The Sunday pin placement is one of the greatest strokes of genius in sports history. It goes beyond drama to the point that it becomes near comical – fans watching at home and the fans at the course go crazy as the ball starts moving its way down the slope toward the hole. Again, one of the greatest crescendos in all of sport. Oh, and Tiger made one of the greatest shots in history at this hole to win the 2005 Masters.

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Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”