Inside the ropes: Bad answers were blowing in the wind
On a day pelicans did well to fly in place, the players’ shots on the 18th hole at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course were all over the place Friday, including the co-leader Tiger Woods.
A couple of factors led to the wipeouts on the 501-yard, par-4 finishing hole.
First, the wind shifted about 90 degrees from earlier in the week. Whereas players were hitting into a quartering right-to-left wind Monday through Thursday, Friday they were hitting with a quartering wind blowing right to left with gusts approaching 25 mph. While it made for some prodigious drives of well over 300 yards, it also led to approach shots that the players hadn’t seen on a course they barely know.
The second factor was the pin placement with the flag back right on a small plateau.
The wind blew approach shots away from the flag, sometimes just on the left side of the green or off into one of the swales. What the players faced next were either chip shots or putts across the green with the slope running away from them.
In the span of five groups, Lucas Glover, Johnson Wagner, Bernd Weisberger and Cameron Tringale either chipped or putted the ball off the green from the left.
Three putts were common. Just ask Tiger.
As the light faded, seeing where the ball was going off the 18th tee was problematic. In the final group, Alan Morin and Thomas Aiken – both above the cut line – decided to tee off in barely enough light. But the final player in the group, Joost Luiten of the Netherlands, told the accompanying rules official he would tee off and complete the hole first thing Saturday morning. He stood at 1-over and inside the cut line.
By the time Morin and Aiken got to the green, the only real light was coming from the Golf Channel broadcast platforms. It was a dark end to a long day on the 18th hole.
Mark Matlock is a freelance writer living in Greenville, S.C. He'll be contributing columns throughout the week to take Golfweek readers inside the ropes at Kiawah Island.