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Bay Hill’s par 3s among the hardest on the PGA Tour

Bay Hill

Gary Woodland, winner of the 2019 U.S. Open, has some advice for players in the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard: Watch your step on the par 3s at Bay Hill Club & Lodge. 

In last year’s event Woodland arrived at the downhill, over-the-water par-3 17th on Sunday with a one-shot lead at 6 under par for the week, having just made eagle on the par-5 16th. One more good swing, one more good result, and Woodland would have a chance play the famed par-4 18th with a lead in pursuit of his first title at Bay Hill. 

Things didn’t work out. Woodland’s 8-iron approach to the back-right hole location – a small target tucked between sand, water and rough – fell short of the green, clearing the pond but plugging into the front bunker. It took him two swipes to get out of the sand, and the ensuing double bogey left him a shot behind eventual winner Scottie Scheffler. A following bogey on 18 added salt to the wound, dropping him to a tie for fifth place. 

It was a painful example of how tough the par 3s play at Bay Hill. The four holes – Nos. 2, 7, 14 and 17 – averaged the highest score over par among any set of pars 3s on the PGA Tour in the 2021-22 season in an official stroke-play individual event, not counting major championships. The Bay Hill quartet played to an average over-par score of 3.193 for the week, proving it’s not always the longest holes that trip up the best players in the world, but sometimes the shortest. 

“Most of the time, the par 3s out here (on the PGA Tour), you’re trying to attack, trying to make some birdies,” Woodland said. 

But not at Bay Hill. 

“You really should play to the middle of the green on all four of them,” said the four-time PGA Tour winner. “… No. 2, when you’re trying to run away with par. No. 17, when you’re trying to run away with par.”

Gary Woodland took two shots to escape a buried lie in the bunker at the front of the 17th green in the final round of the 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The worst part for Woodland last year? He struck his tee shot on No. 17 exactly as he planned toward a more generous area of the green left of the flag. He said he isn’t sure if his ball was hit by a gust of wind or what, but there was plenty of frustration in coming up short. 

Woodland wasn’t the only player in contention to lose traction Sunday on the 17th. Viktor Hovland was 5 under par for the week – which…


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