SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Louis Oosthuizen’s drive drifted deep into the right rough. He laid up short of the green and stood in awe while measuring up his third shot.
Only 240 yards remained.
If length weren’t enough, the sharp dogleg left feels like a constant U-turn and the fairway narrows right at 300 yards.
The flag is often blind until the third shot, and ones that miss long or left will bounce even farther away because of the grass mowed razor-thin beyond the tiny green.
“The reason we did that is we really felt that would make it a true three-shotter,” said USGA executive director Mike Davis, who oversees the course layout. “The wonderful thing about that hole is that from the back, if you miss any one of your shots, it’s awful hard to catch up.”
Players already are finding out firsthand in practice rounds.
Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, could never remember pulling out a 5 wood for his third shot before, hacking out of so much rough _ “the thickest on the entire course,” he said _ on the previous swing he had no choice.
Staring up at the elevated green, he couldn’t imagine even the field’s longest hitters _ Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson among them _ going for the flag in two, even under the best of circumstances.
“It’s too risky,” Oosthuizen said. “The neck there on that fairway or the green is what, 6-7 yards wide? You’re going to overrun it.”
Michael Thompson, the 2007 U.S. Amateur runner-up at Olympic Club, drove into the graded rough Monday. He laid up to 180 yards in front of the green and still had to hit a 5 iron.
“When do we ever hit a 5 iron on our third shot on a par 5, ever?” Thompson said, laughing. “I think what makes it difficult is it’s guarded in front with a bunker. For a long shot coming in, it’d be hard to hold the green.”
Lucas Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion at Bethpage Black, played the 16th in his first practice round about the best anyone could hope to this week. He drove into the fairway, hammered a 3 wood short, floated the ball onto the green with a sand wedge and two putted for par.
The walk alone still wore him out.
“That hole is all you want,” Glover said. “I don’t know that anybody, without a serious wind at their back, could get there in two. Getting there? Maybe. Getting the ball to hold? There’s no chance. It’s a three-shot hole for sure.”