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Woods Among Golfers to Struggle at PGA Championship’s Long Par-3 15th Hole

Tiger Woods didn’t enjoy the same success on the par-3 15th hole at the Atlanta Athletic Club today during the PGA Championship as David Toms did a decade ago.

Woods, a four-time winner of the golf season’s last major, was tied for the lead at 3-under par when he double-bogeyed the 260-yard hole, hitting his tee shot into a pond fronting the right of the green. It was a far different result than Toms’s hole-in-one in 2001.

Woods followed with a bogey on No. 16 as he spiraled down the leaderboard. He finished his round 7-over par, 14 shots behind leader Steve Stricker, who birdied the 15th. It was Woods’s worst opening score in 14 PGA Championship appearances.

In early first-round play, 10 players made at least a double-bogey on the 15th hole, while 20 made a bogey. Ryo Ishikawa of Japan made a triple-bogey. There were four birdies and 32 pars, making it the second-toughest hole on the course behind the 507-yard, par-4 18th.

Australia’s Adam Scott, the winner of last week’s Bridgestone Invitational, was one of the four players able to birdie.

“I found it quite easy,” Scott, 31, joked with reporters. “I don’t know what all the fuss was about. No, it’s not a lot of fun. You’ve just got to hit a great shot just to get it near the green. It’s an intimidating hole for sure.”

Luck vs Skill

Coming into the tournament, many players complained that the length of the 15th hole eliminated skill and rewarded luck. Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in golf’s Official World Ranking, said he prefers shorter par-3s such as the 109-yard seventh hole at Pebble Beach or the 155-yard 12th at Augusta National.

“I’m never a big fan of long par-3s,” Donald said in a press conference on Aug. 9. “I think some of the world’s greatest par-3s are very short. There’s not too many really long par-3s that are very memorable that I can think of.”

The hole was 243 yards in 2001, when Toms won the tournament. He said he would have difficulty replicating his hole-in-one 5-wood shot this year and not just because he no longer carries a 5-wood in his golf bag. This year, Toms said, he would need to hit a longer 3-wood.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like if the wind turned around and all of a sudden my caddie said, ‘You need to hit driver,’” Toms said in a press conference yesterday. “I would be kind of embarrassed.”

Toms parred the hole today while shooting a 2-over 72.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Buteau in Atlanta mbuteau@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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