Could the signature par-3 17th at The Ocean Course challenge the par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale for the title of the most happening place to be on a golf course?
The Ocean Course superintendent Jeff Stone imagines it could be at least something similar. At the left is a shot of the 17th yesterday during the first round of the PGA Championship here at Kiawah Island, S.C.
"I envision our 17th to be like 16 at the Phoenix Open," Stone says, "kind of the spot to be out on the course. It will be fun to watch what happens there today."
The 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale has formed quite the reputation throughout the years. Its amphitheatre, with picturesque mountains in the background, make for quite a scene. It is the spectators, however, that fuel the rowdy, party atmosphere. When Tiger Woods aced the hole in 2008, it set off roars generally heard only at places such as Augusta National GC or a Ryder Cup venue.
The Ocean Course, though, is no slouch when it comes to history on No. 17. In the 1991 Ryder Cup dubbed "The War by the Shore", the Americans won in a thriller when Europe's Bernhard Langer missed a putt on the 18th, yet many of the lasting images from that final day center on No. 17. That usually means major champion Mark Calcavecchia gets singled out because he rinsed a shot there in a final-day singles match, nearly costing the U.S.
"It's going to be a great place to hang out and watch," says The Ocean Course assistant superintendent Paul Coupland. "I think they'll see a lot of balls go in the water."
Ernie Els, coming off his triumph in the British Open, hit a 3-iron in a practice round on No. 17, but says that club choice is no guarantee.
"That's a difficult hole. The wind switches, and when it comes in to you, you're going to have a very difficult shot," Els says, "so 17 will be a pivotal hole."
And, if Stone is right, there will be plenty of folks on hand to witness it in person, and watch it on TV, the next few days.