When Tiger Woods emerged on the PGA Tour, some golf courses were forced to lengthen holes to make them more challenging. A new term was created to describe the work: “Tiger proofing.”
Now an even longer hitter than Woods is shaking things up on the Professional Golfers Association tour — Bryson DeChambeau.
The tour is in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, this week for The Players Championship (TPC). And DeChambeau suggested he might take a different path on the 462-yard 18th hole.
“I have thought about sometimes on 18 going left into 9,” DeChambeau said. Taking that path would take out of play a large lake that lines the left side of 18th hole from tee to green. It would also give him more landing room as the 18th fairway is very narrow — and an easier second shot.
“It just gives you a better shot into the green where you can just hit it a little long and you’re always going to be OK. The cover is like 310 [yards], but we’ll see. I’ll look at all options if there is an advantage there. But if not, I’ll just hit 4-iron down the fairway and hopefully an 8-iron or 7-iron into the green.”
DeChambeau said Tuesday morning he would “probably give it a try, but it’s most likely not going to happen.”
No go, said the PGA. The Tour announced Tuesday afternoon that it was enacting a new rule prohibiting players from driving down the ninth hole while playing 18 — The Bryson Rule.
“In the interest of safety for spectators, volunteers and other personnel, The Players Championship Rules Committee has installed an internal out of bounds left of the lake for play of hole 18. Similar instances of internal out of bounds for safety purposes have occurred at The Open Championship (hole 9) in 2017, the 2021 Sony Open in Hawaii (hole 13 and hole 18), and most recently, the 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard (hole 6),” the Tour said in a statement, according to The New York Post.
DeChambeau on Saturday made headlines when he decided to cut the corner on the par 5, 555-yard sixth hole at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill — taking a shortcut across a huge lake. He hadn’t tried the shot in the first two days of the tournament because he faced a headwind but all the conditions were perfect on Saturday to give it a go.
“Let the big dog eat!” shouted one fan in the gallery crowded around the tee box. “C’mon, wind! Gimme a breeze!” yelled another.
And as soon as he hit the ball, he knew he had smashed it, raising both arms. The crowd roared and DeChambeau thrust his arms into the air in triumph when he saw the ball land. In fact, he hit the drive too far, rolling through the fairway and into the rough.
After he won the tourney on Sunday, DeChambeau was asked if the PGA will alter courses as they did to rein in Woods.
“I don’t think you can Bryson-proof a golf course,” he said.
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