LA JOLLA, CALIF. – Golfweek has learned that U.S. Golf Association will make the 14th hole at the South Course at Torrey Pines a driveable par 4 during the U.S. Open.
At Media Day last week, USGA director of rules and competition Mike Davis surprised the assembled scribes with reference to plans for a reachable par 4 – but refused to say which hole. Speculation immediately turned to the two shortest par 4s, the second and 10th.
Golfweek learned that the fairway toward the green of the par-4 14th hole (which normally plays 435 yards) recently was narrowed. The reason? It’s going to be played as a 277-yard par 4 on Open Sunday, with play proceeding from the forward tee and the hole cut front left on the green. The narrowed fairway approach makes sense for players opting to go for the putting surface. In all likelihood, they won’t even need a driver, and if they do hit it long, they’ll have to deal with a shaved-down rear bank that feeds into the irrecoverable canyon.
This is the latest version of the new-age USGA’s intent to show flexibility in course setup. We witnessed a milder version of this last year at Oakmont, when various tee and distance combinations were used at the long par-3 eighth and the shortish, reachable par-4 17th.
This time at Torrey, USGA officials will use a short tee on the par-3 third hole for two days (142/195 yards) as well as moving up the tees at least one day, probably two, on the par-5 18th. But making the 14th driveable during the final round is a radically adventurous step for the normally staid USGA.
The longest U.S. Open in history (7,643-yard maximum length) with the longest par 4 (the 515-yard sixth hole) and the longest finishing hole (573 yards) now also will have the shortest par 4 in at least a half-century.