Sage Valley: No. 17 could provide plenty of drama

The 17th green is new at Sage Valley, moving back to bring the water into play on the right. This is a look from the back-left side of the green.

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GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – No. 17 won’t disappoint this week. Playing as the No. 1 handicap hole at Sage Valley, it can cause some heartache coming down the stretch.

“It’s a good hole, especially if you have the lead or you’re in contention out there,” Sam Burns said.

The long par-4, which will easily play more than 490 yards, has been lengthened tremendously since the previous Junior Invitational. The tee box and the green have been pushed back, making the tee shot narrow and the second shot dangerous with the pond on the right.

Players say you can’t take this hole off before thinking about posting a number. Each shot must be thought out in order to walk away with par or better.

As Matthew Fitzpatrick explains, ‘With the bunkers in play and with it being so tight down the left, but I think if you get it off the tee, you shouldn’t have much of an issue.’

Fitzpatrick, No. 12 in the R&A World Amateur Golf Rankings, admitted that he thought there were more difficult holes out there, but that the putting surface and the undulation of the greens probably would cause him the most trouble on 17.

“The green is really hard,” Fitzpatrick added. “You have to pitch it short of the green on 17, if you have to, to have any chance of keeping it on.”

When he and some other international players were playing Tuesday, they dropped ball on the green just to putt to possible different hole locations. He added that you could hear how different the green was from all the other holes.

Burns, No. 40 in the Golfweek Junior Rankings, thinks the second shot will be key because it requires precision. A miss to the right can end up in the pond, a miss left can end up in the bunker placed quite perfectly on the Tom Fazio design.

“If you miss, it’s going to be bad,” Burns added. “It’s quick, so you have to be very conservative going into that green.”

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