Daunting opening tee shot awaits Presidents Cup competitors

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Daunting opening tee shot awaits Presidents Cup competitors

PGA Tour

Daunting opening tee shot awaits Presidents Cup competitors

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – American Rickie Fowler is a fan of the horseshoe-style grandstands that surround the first tee at Liberty National for this week’s Presidents Cup.

“I like what they’ve done … similar to what we’ve seen at some Ryder Cups, especially the Ryder Cups overseas,” Fowler said. “We’ve seen plenty of energy in those, so it’s going to be fun and interesting to see how crazy we can get this New York crowd.”

As for the tee shot on the 427-yard, par-4 hole, which typically serves as the course’s fifth hole, Fowler knows it will rattle a few nerves.

“They’ve definitely picked one of the harder tee shots on the golf course to start out the round,” Fowler said.

The first tee.

A post shared by Sean Martin (@pgatoursmartin) on

Added International team member Marc Leishman: “Everyone is going to be nervous on that tee, but it’s a really hard tee shot. It will certainly sort the men out from the boys early on. Yeah, you need to be controlling your emotions for that shot.”

As fans cheer and volume levels rise around the first tee, players will look out into the fairway and see a left side heavily guarded by water. For the first 325 yards or so, a miss left will end up in the lake. At around 100 yards out, the lake turns into a small creek before widening a little around the left side of the green.

 

The widest part of the fairway is about 30 yards, which is in the landing zone for most of the players’ long irons and 3-woods. For those who can hit their driver up at least to the 325-yard mark, the fairway is just north of 20 yards wide.

A view of the first hole from the right side of the fairway, about 100 yards out.

“If I’m a spectator, I’m going to make sure that I’m not standing around 260 to 300 (yards) up the right side,” Fowler said. “There’s water left, and I feel like there will be a handful of balls peeling off right, just to make sure they’re safe. It’s not necessarily a narrow fairway, it’s just that the water is right there, and that wouldn’t be the best of ways to start, so don’t stand on the right.”

Said American Justin Thomas: “For a newcomer like myself, if I’m hitting the first tee shot with the nerves going, that will probably be one of the harder tee shots I’ve had.”

The club choice, players say, will depend on the wind. If the wind is with the players, expect to see more irons than woods. If the wind is into the players, though, drivers and 3-woods will likely be needed.

American Phil Mickelson says the tee shot is so critical; if a player finds the fairway then he sets himself or his partner up to make birdie. However, Mickelson isn’t raising his hand to hit that tee ball in foursomes.

“If I play alternate shot, it’s unlikely that I will tee off on that hole,” Mickelson said.

Aussie Jason Day agrees: “I’m going to try and get my partner to hit it first.”

Latest

More Golfweek
Home