Final hole crushing PGA's best

Australia's Adam Scott takes a drop after hitting into the water on the 18th hole during the second...

Australia's Adam Scott takes a drop after hitting into the water on the 18th hole during the second round of the 93rd PGA Championship golf tournament at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Georgia, August 12, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:58 PM ET

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. - Things are going to be tight on the 18th hole at the Atlanta Athletic Club Sunday.

And by things, we mean the butts of the leaders.

As a pro once said to me one time of playing a difficult hole with the lead and water all around, “your (butt) gets so tight, you couldn’t pull a pin out of it with a pair of pliers.”

The 18th is listed at 507 yards, which would make it a pretty easy par-5 except for the fact that five is a bogey, which, as it turns out, is not that bad a score on a hole that had 14 “others” (doubles or higher) through two rounds.

Nick Watney would have taken a couple of bogeys.

He needed 13 strokes to get through 18 the first two days.

Eighteen, with water menacing the tee shot left and bunkers right and water in front of the green, had an impressive list of victims: Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson. Lefty’s body language when he hit it in the water Friday said it all: bent over from the waist like he had just been punched in the stomach. He three-putted it Saturday for a bogey to leave a bad taste in his mouth.

World number one Luke Donald, who got to within a stroke of the lead at one point Saturday, drove it in a bunker, layed up, then hit it in the water and made six and tumbled to T17.

Fowler made a triple Saturday.

Scott missed the fairway Friday and had to lay up and still managed to roll it into the pond and made double.

“Even (Thursday) I stood in the middle of the fairway with a 3-iron and didn’t feel great about hitting a 3-iron into that green. There’s a lot of things that can go wrong doing that,” said Scott. “In all likelihood, if I needed a four to win, I don’t know whether I would be going for the green with a 3-iron Sunday.

“I would probably lay up even if I was in the fairway because I could lose it hitting 3-iron.”

David Toms won the PGA here in 2001 laying up on the 18th - he took some grief for it - and then got up and down to save his par for the victory over Mickelson.

He’s driven the ball beautifully on 18 this week, 2-under on the hole through three rounds after making his second birdie there Saturday on his way to a 65.

“It’s a tough hole and I’m not afraid to lay up,” he said. “It wouldn’t bother me if I don’t hit a good tee shot to lay the thing up. I’ve made four that way and when it really mattered.

“Maybe that’s it, the pressure is off because I know if I don’t hit a good tee shot, I’m going to lay up anyway, so you free wheel it a little bit.”

The 18th was averaging 4.7 strokes through two rounds.

The tee has been up through the first three rounds, playing 491, 486 and 484 yards.

Mickelson had 227 in on Saturday. Masters champ Charl Schwartzel hit 3-iron off the tee and used it again from 250.

“You could lay it up a little off the tee and stay back and leave yourself a long second shot or be aggressive with the driver,” said 2003 U.S. Open champ Jim Furyk. “I chose driver. Six-iron sounded a lot better than 3-wood or 3-iron.”

And sounds a lot better than “ploop,” as another ball gets rinsed.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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