Napoleon would have felt right at home today at the Atlanta Athletic Club for the second round of the PGA Championship. The 18th hole in particular was taking no prisoners. In the last hour and a half of the day Adam Scott, Angel Cabrera, Nick Whatney, Phil Mickelson, Matteo Manassero, and Gary Woodland (twice) all saw their momentum drown in a watery grave on their approach shots into the final green.

David Feherty asked the question of the day, doesn’t the PGA think that the final hole of their most important tournament of the year should actually be playable by the best players in the world. This one clearly is not. It wasn’t about the wind, it wasn’t about the pin, it was just that the driving area was so confined the players could not find the courage to hit a driver far enough up the hole to give themselves a manageable shot at the green. As hard as the hole was in 2001 when David Toms chose to lay up on his second shot and rely on a wedge to get up and down to beat Mickelson in the PGA it has clearly been ratcheted up a notch in Rees Jones’s latest upgrade of the course for this year’s event. Tom’s strategy may the play du jour for the next two days if guys are in the hunt.

Maybe the real secret today was being fortunate enough to play the back nine first because Dufner and Bradley, the current leaders, both played the front as their inward nine and seemed able to close out their rounds without blunting their momentum. They will not have that opportunity tomorrow and will have to face the terror of fifteen through eighteen with the full pressure of trying to hold the lead in a major. Climbing over the battle casualties in front of them could be a huge mental challenge in that stretch.

August 2011

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