The Loop

No. 13 provides plenty of excitement on Saturday

August 13, 2011

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- K.J. Choi eagled it. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III double bogeyed it. FedEx Cup points leader Nick Watney bogeyed it. Robert Allenby made 3 the hard way. Phil Mickelson made 4 the hard way.

For the majority of the field in the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club, it had a small bark and an equally small bite Saturday. Such were the vagaries of the Highland course's par-4 13th, shortened Saturday into a little risk-reward ditty.


Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

"I think it's fun,'' said Watney, one of six players to bogey the driveable hole -- shortened nearly 100 yards (257 to the front and another 15 to the flagstick) from 372 -- when he plugged his 3-wood tee shot in a bunker guarding the green. "When the tees are back everybody plays it the same way, but it brings about a little bit of excitement (when moved up), so I think it's a good move bringing some variety and a lot of different ways to play the hole."

Like Watney, Allenby was one of the many players who opted for 3-wood on the slight dogleg right. However, his birdie was anything but scripted. His pulled tee shot caromed off the cart path some 60 yards leaving him a restricted backswing and a pitch over a bushy tree. Wasting no time in assessing the difficulty of the shot, Allenby lofted the ball over the tree to within four feet of the hole.

"That's how you play the game isn't it?'' deadpanned his caddie Colin Burwood.

For the record, only the par-5 12th and 5th holes were less difficult than No. 13, which yielded 30 birdies, 36 pars, six bogeys and two doubles (Jhonattan Vegas recorded the other one).

Mickelson saved par after his tee shot ducked underneath the bleachers. After a drop in a bare area, he flopped long, rolled his putt well past the hole, then holed a 10-footer to maintain the momentum from a birdie at the 12th that put him three-under on the day. However, bogeys on 15 and 18 pushed Lefty back to level par, seven back of co-leaders Brendan Steele and Jason Dufner.

Ryan Palmer had the might to go for the green but opted to lay up with a 5-wood.

"I love that kind of hole,'' said Palmer whose strategy resulted in an easy birdie, ''although I prefer a risk-reward hole around 290 to 300. It was too short for my driver and a tough shot for me to cut a 3-wood that far. It's definitely risk-reward, though. Long left and you're dead.''

Unless you're both skilled and lucky like Allenby and Lefty.

-- Pete McDaniel