Port Royal’s 16th helps sort out Grand Slam field
SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda – It took Jason Dufner just one tour of the course to locate the part of Port Royal Golf Course that required a player’s utmost attention.
“Right off the bat, obviously, 16, kind of a signature hole here,” Dufner said Monday, the day before the start of the 31st PGA Grand Slam of Golf. “A very difficult hole. Especially late in the tournament, you could see a two-shot or even a three-shot swing on that hole. Pretty easy to make a bogey or a double on that hole, and if you hit a good shot, you can pick up a couple of shots.”
Recognized as one of the great par 3s in the world, Port Royal’s gorgeous, oceanfront 16th wreaked all kinds of havoc in Tuesday’s opening round.
Dufner, Adam Scott and Justin Rose went to the tee of the 221-yard hole tied for the lead at 3 under par, but Dufner made a bogey and Scott made two poor strokes en route to a double-bogey 5. When Rose escaped the carnage at No. 16 with a par and added a two-putt birdie at the par-5 17th, he was able to grab the midway lead with a 4-under 67. Dufner was two shots further back, and Scott was third at 1-under 70. Defending champion Padraig Harrington birdied only the three par 5s, all reachable in two, and finished with 74.
“I felt like I didn’t play my best today,” said Rose, who made the first of seven birdies with an improbable, blind 6-iron from the depths far left of the opening hole. “Obviously if it was anything left of that hole, it would have fallen 20 feet off to the left. So to keep it up on the ridge was a slight stroke of fortune, but still, it was a great shot. . . . Making a birdie was like stealing there.”
Rose felt as though he got the most out of a round in which he hit just eight fairways and 12 greens.
“But I kept the ball out of some really bad spots,” he said. “I felt like I putted really well today. There’s quite a bit of break; I had a lot of putts that I was playing two, three, four cups outside the hole. But for the most part, I read the greens well, which translated into . . . seven birdies.”
There was a remarkable difference between the two nines. The group of four was a collective 10 under on the front side but 6 over coming home.
“I thought the guys were going to shoot pretty low after our front nine,” Dufner said, “but I think the hole locations were probably a bit tougher on the back nine. Ten was tucked back in that corner; 11, same thing; 12 is right on the front, straight down; 14 is a tough hole, with the wind going left to right; 16, obviously, is pretty tough. . . . The course firmed up, just played a bit tougher and will probably be . . . tomorrow, too.”
Scott’s 32-38, with four birdies on the first nine and none on the back, echoed the scoring differential.
“I played really nice on the front,” he said, “then, just like the other guys, had a few struggles on the back; made the worst of it, really. I felt like I played pretty well and probably should have been a couple of shots better.”
Scott’s tee shot at 16 kicked into the right greenside bunker, only inches from an edge that prevented him from playing toward the flagstick. “It was impossible,” Scott said. “I was trying to hit it 50 feet long, up near Justin’s ball, and two-putt. I was just playing for bogey. But I misjudged it a little bit and it came out so soft. Went under the ball somehow. . . . I didn’t do anything wrong or right. You can hit two shots the same out of that stuff and have two different results. It’s not a good spot to be, obviously.”
The winner following Wednesday’s final round collects $600,000 from a purse of $1.35 million.