PGA Championship 15th Hole Proves More Difficult a Decade After Toms’s Ace

Tiger Woods had a much different experience on the Atlanta Athletic Club’s par-3 15th hole during the first round of the U.S. PGA Championship than David Toms did a decade ago. Woods wasn’t alone.

Woods, a four-time winner of the golf season’s last major, was tied for the early lead at 3 under when he double-bogeyed the 260-yard hole, hitting his tee shot into a pond fronting the right of the green. In 2001, Toms made a hole-in-one on the 15th in the third round en route to his only Grand Slam title.

“It was a 4-iron and I was going to hit to the front edge or maybe just short of the green,” Woods told reporters after yesterday’s round. “I’m really angry. There’s a lot of words I could use beyond that.”

Woods, who had started on the 10th hole, followed that gaffe with a bogey on No. 16 as he spiraled down the leaderboard. He finished his round 7-over par, his worst opening score in 62 major championship appearances. He ended the day 14 shots behind leader Steve Stricker, who birdied the 15th.

“It’s a great hole, isn’t it?” Stricker said after the round. “No, it’s a long, tough hole. You know you’re going to see some big numbers there.”

Ishikawa’s Triple

In the first round, 16 players made at least a double-bogey on the 15th hole, while 43 made a bogey. Ryo Ishikawa of Japan made a triple-bogey en route to a 15-over 85 score. There were nine birdies, making it the second-toughest hole on the course behind the 507-yard, par-4 18th, where Woods had another double- bogey.

Australia’s Adam Scott, the winner of last week’s Bridgestone Invitational, was one of the nine players able to score below par.

“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.”

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 an Aug. 9 news conference. “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.”

‘Embarrassed’

The hole was 243 yards when Toms won the tournament in 2001. 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 news conference. “I would be kind of embarrassed.”

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

“Just another one of those long par-4s out here is really what it is,” he said.

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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