By: MATTHEW SELMAN
At the Players Championship in Ponte Vedra, Florida there was a never before seen situation happening on the 17th hole. The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass has always been a popular hole amongst fans. For the players on the other hand, not so much. This “Island Green” brings endless problems for the golfers, the hole is a small green perched in the middle of a lake with nothing around it but water. Before the round could be completed, 35 golf balls had already landed in the water on 17. This isn’t the first time PGA golfers have had trouble on 17. In 2007 50 balls were hit into the water during the third round. What is it that makes this hole so much more difficult than the rest? According to one professional named Graeme McDowell, “the greens are very quick in some places, like the back of the green on 17, I mean, if you pitch that ball past the slope at all today it’s getting a massive hop and going off the back” Not only is it difficult to get the ball onto the green, but it’s hard to keep the ball on the green. The pin was 6 yards from the back of the green, making it easy for a golfer to putt the ball past the pin and over the edge. Not all golfers had bad luck on 17 though. Louis Oosthuizen had a lucky break when his ball stopped right on the edge of the fringe from his tee shot. He said, “it wasn’t often that you saw a golf ball stay up on 17 today, I will take a par all day long.” The 143 yard hole was the exact hole that shot players scores up. A perfect example of a horrible break is Dustin Johnson’s tee shot in the first round. His shot was on such a great line it came howling down right for the flagstick. The ball hit the flagstick and rolled off the back end of the green. While another incredible golfer had a perfect shot that rolled right next to the pin. It seems to be a recurring theme, no matter how good your shot might feel, the green will still find a way to mess you up. Of course there were the few nice shots, such as Jordan Speith’s perfect shot with the right amount of backspin to put him 6 feet away for a birdie. Every year the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass plays differently, some years there will be only 3 balls into the water, other years it will be nearly every ball for the entire round. That’s the beauty of a PGA golf course, no matter how many Major championships you have won or how many hole in one’s you’ve made, you are still just as vulnerable as the rest of the field.