GOLF: Island hole becoming infamous
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) – The Players Championship has all the ingredients of the fifth biggest tournament in golf.
It has the largest purse of any tournament at $9.5 million, with the winner getting nearly as much as Arnold Palmer earned in his PGA Tour career. From top to bottom, it has the strongest field of the year. The list of winners in 30 years at the TPC Sawgrass includes Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
But to all fans, and most players, mention the tournament and the first thing that comes to mind is an island.
The Players Championship begins today, and there will be a steady stream of traffic through the gates and toward the 17th hole, with an island green that makes it one of the most infamous holes in the world.
By the weekend, it turns into the Jacksonville’s biggest sideshow this side of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party when Florida and Georgia play football.
“I think our pension is funded by beers sold on 17,” Paul Goydos said.
The signature hole on the TPC Sawgrass measures only 137 yards on the scorecard and is surrounded by water, an idea that Alice Dye drew up on the back of a cocktail napkin.
“It’s do-or-die, and I think spectators love that,” Luke Donald said. “Most of the other holes are pretty regular holes that you see week in and week out, but 17 is unique.”
The PGA Tour will offer live streaming on its website at the 17th, and asked several players their strategy on the hole. Lucas Glover spoke for most when he said, “Hit it where I can hit it again.”
The island green is so much a part of the tournament that NBC Sports is devoting 11 cameras to the hole, which includes two periscope cams out of the water that can turn 360 degrees.
The 17th green rarely decides who wins, rather who loses.