The 17th at TPC Sawgrass: Water Tour-tureMike Weir once hit the green right-handed in practice; Vijay Singh did the same left-handed.
the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass is
nothing to be toyed with when it
counts at The Players Championship.
In 2007, after missing short putts
on 15 and 16, Sean
O'Hair, playing in
the last group with
took aim at the
flag on 17.
went straight at
the stick, then skipped over the back
of the green and into the soup. He
made 7, the most recent big-time
casualty on arguably America's most
notorious hole. O'Hair dropped from
second to 11th place.
"It's hard to make something happen
on 17," O'Hair says a year later.
Something good, anyway.
Mattiace was a shot off the lead at the
1998 Players when, with his dying
mother watching from a wheelchair, he
made a quintuple-bogey 8.
having a three o'clock appointment
for a root canal," Mark Calcavecchia
once said of 17. "You're thinking about
it all morning, because you know
sooner or later you've got to get to it."
Herewith, then, are the good, the
bad and the traumatic at 17.
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Man With a Plan: How Aaron Baddeley will play the 17th this year
"How do I plan to attack the
17th this year? Safely. If the
pin is on the front you sort of
try to hit it a little behind it. If
the pin is on the left side you
try and hit it a little to the
right of it, and so on. You sort
of play to the fat part of the
green. I hit one in the water a
couple years ago. I don't
know if I did last year. Three
is a good score. You're not
losing a shot to the field.
If the water was grass, it
would probably be the
easiest par-3 in the world."
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"It's a very tricky
little hole, and a
bit gimmicky because
it's so severe. I wouldn't
call it bad, but it's quite
severe. "It's fun for the
spectators, but as a
player you like to be able
to go for the flag and
know that if you miss,
the ball's going to go into
the bunker or rough.
But this is all
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"It's a good hole. You've
got to focus on what
shot you're trying to hit and
really stand up there and stick
with it if the wind starts blowin'.
"Don't even look at the flag. Just
look at the center of the green
and hit it. For me it's a two-club
difference from the front of
that green to the back pitching wedge to 8-iron."
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"I've made a
lot of 3s, a 5,
a couple of 2s. I do like
the hole after I've hit
it right in the middle
of the green. When the
pin is on the front part
you're trying to hit it on
the slope and have it
come back. It depends
on how firm it is.
first order of business is just keeping it dry.
I've probably hit as much as 7-iron there, in the
wind. Davis [Love III] and I both hit it in the
water there a few years ago. Usually from the
drop area it's a little easier because you're hitting
a sand wedge as opposed to an 8- or 9-iron. "At
Pebble Beach, number 7 this year was straight
downwind, pin in the front, and there wasn't
really anywhere to bail out there, either."
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"I think I put it in the water
once last year and made
a bogey. I've done okay on the
hole I almost had a hole-in-one
with a 9-iron to that front pin.
"When I finished second to Fred
Funk [in 2005], it was very
windy on the last day and I hit it
to the bottom tier and had to
two-putt. That's a horrible two-putt
to have to make from the
front fringe to that back pin. It
goes over the hill there and gets
going fast. I got it to seven
or eight feet and made it."
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17th by the Numbers
1 Number of players who have
birdied 17 on all four days
(Paul Azinger, 1987)
4 Depth in feet of the
6 Aces in Players
Brian Claar and
Score made by
Fred Couples in
1999, when he hit
his first shot into
the water, took a
drop on the tee,
and then holed
his third shot
with a 9-iron
11 Score by Robert
Gamez in the
third round in
1990 (it included
four water balls),
number until ...
12 Bob Tway's score
in the third round
in 2005, made in
25-30 mph winds
and featuring four
water balls and
121 Yards from the
middle of the
to the front of
Yards from the middle of
tee to the back of the green
8 of 10David Walberg
"Last year was the first time I hit it in the
water. I had one near miss that went down
the path and I got it up and down for par. I got a
break and took advantage of it. "If it's really windy
you're just going to aim at the fat of the green, but
most times you can have a crack at the pin there.
You've got to forget about the water. If you're playing
well it's a good opportunity to make birdie. Be
target-oriented. If you focus on a certain
point, the shot should take care of itself."
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"I've done average. I don't know anyone who
has a brilliant history there. I've hit it in the
water more times than near the hole. I think
everybody has. It's just about trying to hit into a
portion of the green where the flag is. You just try
to make a good, clean pass at it. I've hit as much as a
7-iron when it plays into the wind. The tee shot is
twice as hard as the shot from the drop area, but
getting it close from the drop-zone is not easy. My
low is birdie. My high is probably a double. "I'd be
surprised if there's a player who hasn't made a
double there. It's not a great hole of golf, nothing
special about its design, it's just unique from a
penalty point of view. It's a hole of consequences.
If you don't hit the right shot, you pay for it. You're
happy to make a 4. Where else would you be happy
to make a 4 after missing the green from 134 yards?
"The more times you play it the more you
focus and knuckle down on what you
have to do to hit the ball in that position."
10 of 10Fred Vuich
MINDING THE SCORE
"Players should have a plan they want to execute at 17 and
work that out in practice rounds," says sports psychologist
Dr. Richard Coop. "There's a bit of wind that's hard to detect
on that hole. The important thing is not bailing out in the
middle of a swing. The players need to commit to club selection
based on a plan developed during practice rounds. That's most
"If they de-commit in the middle of a swing, that's
bad news. Also, they should recall past successes on the hole.
The last thing is to get an intermediate target and aim at that
for that last look, rather than at the pin, where they might see
all that water. They're looking at the wrong place if they're
appreciating the beauty of the hole.
"Of course, the other thing is
that they now have that video online of people playing the hole
all day long. I tell my players not to watch that because you see
too many splashes. I even tell them not to watch their playing
partners hit for that reason. It creates too powerful a visual."
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