Golf News

17th hole at WM Phoenix Open is where the tournament is won and lost

TPC Scottsdale

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – In the final round of last year’s WM Phoenix Open, Sahith Theegala arrived at the tee of the 332-yard par-4 17th hole at TPC Scottsdale with a share of the lead.

Shadowed on both sides by the imposing hospitality structures – the Bay Club and The Cove – the rookie took aim at the green and thought he was about to be rewarded for his derring-do. He struck what he later tabbed a “perfect” shot until his ball bounced left and was gobbled up by the water, which rings the left side and back of the peninsula green. And just like that, his hopes of winning his first PGA Tour title sunk with it.

“As long as it’s another yard right, I think that’s perfect. If it kicks straight, it’s good. Kicked left into the water there,” he said in the aftermath of finishing in a tie for third, one stroke out of a playoff eventually won by Scottie Scheffler.

Theegala has had a year to digest how close his tee sot came to perhaps joining 65 others that kicked on to the putting surface at 17 in 2022, marking the sixth consecutive season with more than 60 tee shots finding the green. Instead, his was the final of 62 balls in last year’s tournament that ended up swimming with the fish. What is it they say about time healing all wounds?

“I don’t think it’s something you ever get over,” Theegala said of his unlucky bounce at 17. “I don’t actively think about it but it’s always going to hurt. I hit a good shot, it just wasn’t the right shot I suppose.”

Theegala isn’t the only one to stand on the 17th tee and realize its make-or-break time with the title on the line. And that’s the brilliance of the hole – players can make anywhere from eagle to double bogey and flip the script. While the par-3 16th hole has become iconic for good reason, the 17th lives in its shadow and is grossly under appreciated.

From Kyle Stanley recovering from a prickly lie to hold on for the title in 2012 to Rickie Fowler losing the tournament with water balls in 2016 to Brooks Koepka pitching in from a brutal lie 45 yards right of the green, it’s 17 that has become pivotal to determining who hoists the trophy on Sunday.

It also has its place in history as home to Andrew Magee’s hole-in-one, which remains the only ace on a par 4 in Tour history. In case anyone dares to forget it, there is a plaque recognizing the feat.

A marker near the 17th tee box at TPC Scottsdale honors the first-ever hole-in-one on a par-4 in PGA Tour history, made…


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