Valhalla's 18th ready to provide more drama

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The 547-yard, par-5 18th hole at Valhalla Golf Club is tailor made for drama. Bob May made a miraculous 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th Sunday during the 2000 PGA Championship, only to see Tiger Woods force a playoff by making his six-foot birdie putt.
Reachable in two shots for nearly every player in the field, eagles can certainly be made this week. But train wrecks are possible too — just ask Kenny Perry.
In the 1996 PGA Championship, Perry headed to the 18th tee Sunday with a two-shot lead over Mark Brooks. After he hooked his drive left and made bogey, Brooks made birdie and then won in a playoff. Valhalla_18_600x450<p><p><p>Enter text here.</p></p></p>While the tee shot is downhill, the second shot on this dogleg-right is uphill to a green that is shaped like an upside down U. The center section is perched on a shelf and flanked by ridges. Everything tilts sharply from back to front, and there is a deep bunker that separates the left front from the right front. (Click on the image for a better look.)
Any player whose ball stops in the middle faces a lightning-fast, heavily-breaking putt down a ridge. So controlling approach shots will be the key to success on the hole called Gahm Over. (Dwight Gahm is the founder of Valhalla.)
Boo Weekley tried his hand at making one of those rollercoaster putts Thursday. The Floridian hit six putts to the front-right hole location. Several almost stopped as they inched toward the ridge, but all six then gathered speed and rolled at least six feet past the hole.
Perry, who practiced once again Thursday with J.B. Holmes and has played the course countless times, knows how to use those slopes to his advantage. From 225 yards out, he hit his approach shot into the right ridge and then watched his ball roll back to within three feet of the hole.
Shots that go through the green will get snared in some of the juiciest rough on the course. Perry tried a few chip shots from there, and while he floated his ball into the fringe, he couldn't make anything stop near the hole.
The match play format of the Ryder Cup does not ensure that the 18th will see a lot of action this weekend; some matches will be decided before they reach the final hole. But any match that reaches the 18th could end spectacularly. And for Perry, winning on the 18th might even exorcise some demons. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

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by Kevin Cunningham