Oakland Hills key holes, and other scenes from the 2008 PGA Championship
October 05, 2011
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Four Holes will tell the tale at the 2008 PGA Championship. Take a closer look at Nos. 6, 13, 16 and 18, as well as other scenes from Oakland Hills.
"I'm just glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees," Ben Hogan said after winning the 1951 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills. "I shot a pair of 80s and went home," says Steve Flesch, recalling his quick technical knockout at the 1996 U.S. Open. "It's one of the hardest golf courses I've ever played." And it's only gotten worse. Golf's notorious Dr. Frankenstein, Rees Jones, renovated Oakland Hills in 2006, adding 346 yards (7,395 total, par 70), pinching fairways and toughening up bunkers. If this course is a monster, these holes are its angry, razor-sharp teeth.
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More scenes from Oakland Hills
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This severe dogleg-right finisher dishes the toughest tee shot on the South and has always been the hardest hole at Oakland Hills, but with the two added bunkers, this beast has grown a beard. "It's designed to be a good par 5 with a tight, small green," Faxon says. "There's a series of four bunkers down each side, and with them in the way, you can't just drive it over everything."
The drive is so intimidating that it made for one of the worst tee shots of Mickelson's career at the 2004 Ryder Cup. Teamed with Tiger Woods and tied with Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood in alternate shot, Mickelson stepped up to the 18th tee and hit, in the words of the official play-by-play on Team Europe's website, "a wild slice that hit the out-of-bounds fence miles off the fairway."
Woods fixed his partner with a none-too-subtle glare, and Team USA made double-bogey 6 and lost the match. That's right this hellhole is the reason that Tiger and Phil aren't buddies.
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If you miss the big lake on the right with your tee shot, don't worry you can always hit it with your approach. Brad Faxon recalls, "I was playing with J.B. Holmes and he hit a 350-yard drive, carried all the water. But they'd shaved all the banks around the green, and he ended up hitting four good shots that spun back into the water." At least Holmes had company. Phil Mickelson also hit his approach shot into the water here at the 2004 Ryder Cup, a play that NBC's Johnny Miller famously called "nutso."
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Although 17 is the par 3 that gets the most press, the sneaky 13th is Oakland's real shorty wild card. With a scary, countoured green guarded by five bunkers, this hole demands precision. A too-short or too-long iron shot leaves players facing a potential three-putt. Chips have to be very precise or they'll roll onto the wrong tier or off the green altogether. If the pin is on the green's top tier, which is only eight to 10 yards deep, players who have their iron distances locked in that weekend will have a distinct edge.
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Deep fairway bunkers may prompt players to hit long irons or hybrids off the tee, but there's talk of the PGA moving the tee up to allow the pros a shot at driving the green. As with most short holes, the green itself is this one's best defense: it's a relatively large, two-tiered putting surface with a gangplank of an upper shelf that's only 12 yards wide.
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• See satellite photos of Oakland Hills in our Course Finder
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