Bear Trap's where good rounds die

Mike Weir of Canada waves to the gallery after a birdie on the 16th hole during the second round of...

Mike Weir of Canada waves to the gallery after a birdie on the 16th hole during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at the Bayhill Club and Lodge on March 26, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images/AFP)

JOM MCCARTHY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:54 PM ET

TORONTO - As the weather warms up, bears come out of hibernation.

With the PGA Tour hitting Florida this week every golfer’s favourite Bear will make an appearance at the Honda Classic.

Tour players young and old will be thrilled to see Jack Nicklaus but not everyone will be as thrilled to see the beast he has created at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.

Orignally designed by Tom Fazio, the Champion Course was redesigned by Nicklaus in 2001. The most notable change was the creation of The Bear Trap — holes 15, 16 and 17. Two short par 3s and a par 4.

Sound simple?

Throw in some water, actually, throw in a lot of water. Count on some wind, actually, count on a lot of wind.

What you have now is the toughest finish in golf.

Last year at the 190-yard 17th hole there were 28 birdies and zero hole-in-ones compared to 100 bogeys, 63 double bogeys and 10 dreaded Others.

The Bear Trap is the place good rounds go to die.

Before you blame Old Jack for taking a bite out of the current players, give him a chance to explain.

“If you take those three holes without wind, they are not really particularly difficult holes,” Nicklaus said during a previous trip to the course.

“It didn’t turn out at all what I intended it to. I thought it would be nice little speedy holes and it turned out to be a Bear Trap.”

And then he laughed.

The players won’t be laughing when they see a sign at 15 that reads, “You are now entering The Bear Trap.” Then there is a quote from Nicklaus that reads, “It should be won or lost right here.”

But as you’re watching the game’s best players bring up their breakfast over this stretch, remember, golf’s greatest champion didn’t intend it to be this difficult, it just kinda, sorta turned out that way.

Sure, Jack. Sure.

POOR MIKE

It should be good news for Canadian golf fans that Mike Weir is in the field this week but odds are it isn’t.

We have already examined The Champion Course at PGA National and it’s obviously not a great place to show up when your game is a mess.

While the game’s top players were dueling it out at the WGC Accenture Match Play in Arizona, Mike Weir was busy missing the cut against a soft field at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.

Weir shot 79, 78 and didn’t do much to bolster the argument of those who felt he was snubbed when he was denied a sponsor’s exemption at Riviera two weeks ago.

This week he faces much stiffer competition on a course that ranks as second most difficult out of 51 PGA Tour courses.

One positive for Weir this year, and we are really reaching, is that he looks to have made the right move by not wasting one of his two full-season PGA Tour exemptions when his game is clearly not where it needs to be to compete week-to-week.

IS THIS THE WEEK?

Tiger Woods is right back at it this week after losing to Nick Watney in his second-round match last Friday. He plans to play this week and at Doral next week.

Getting back in the routine of tournament golf is the best way for Tiger to regain his killer instinct. If we don’t see something great over the next two Sundays, the rumbling that Tiger will never regain his past form will reach a fever pitch with the Masters just a month away.

Not even the most ardent Tiger supporters can say they weren’t shocked when Tiger missed the hole completely with his must-make 5-foot putt on the 18th hole versus Watney.

There are so many aspects of Tiger’s game rounding into form but none of it matters if the greatest clutch putter the world has ever seen has lost his touch.

Watching Tiger fail reminds us of that feeling you would get as a kid seeing Superman stricken powerless by kryptonite. Just plain weird.

TEES AND BALL-MARKERS

A couple weeks ago we told you to keep an eye on the silky smooth swing of PGA Tour rookie Johnny Huh. Our man shot a blistering 63 on Sunday in Mexico and then survived an 8-hole playoff versus Robert Allenby to win the Mayakoba Classic. The Q-School success story will quickly become the poster boy for the crowd that thinks the PGA should continue to allow Q-School grads to jump straight to the PGA. You can count me in that crowd … Last week Hunter Mahan switched from the Ping Anser-style putter he had used his entire career to a new face-balanced Ping mallet putter. It resulted in the biggest win of his career at the WGC Match Play, a $1.4 million cheque and a jump inside the top 10 in the World Rankings. While we think amateurs change out drivers and irons too much, dropping a new putter in the bag every now and then often creates the spark your game needs.


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