The Players Championship
TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Hole No. 17
Par 3, 137 yards
Wind, water and nerves. Those are the three biggest factors a player must deal with at TPC Sawgrass’ iconic par-3 17th. A Pete Dye product, the island green made its PGA Tour debut when Sawgrass hosted its first Players Championship in 1980, two years after the course was built. It’s been giving the pros fits ever since.
Take, for example, Zac Blair, who was 2 over through 16 during last year’s second round. It took him four shots to safely reach the green and he made a sextuple bogey-9. The kicker? He liked every swing and said the wind was just too unpredictable.
On a calm day, No. 17 is an easy wedge or 9 iron for most players. On a windy day, club selection and shot shape will make all the difference.
Rickie Fowler tends to have the right idea. He’s one of the best historically here with a cumulative score of 6 under in 23 rounds, and he birdied the hole three times during the final round of his 2015 Players victory – once in regulation and twice in a playoff.
Proving just how drastically the winds can change and alter a player’s decision making, Fowler said he had to play the hole three different ways on the same day.
“A lot of people think they were all pretty much the exact same shot with gap wedge,” Fowler said. “We actually had three different winds throughout the course of regulation and the two playoffs.”
Fowler was no doubt a deserving champion considering the way he stood up to the pressure at No. 17. Who’s up to the challenge in 2018? We’re about to find out.