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Winning a major championship requires strength and strategy. Heading into this week’s tournament, our own Chris Trott walks us through pivotal shots and examines data from some of the key holes at Torrey Pines.
The last time Torrey hosted a major (2008), the scoring average was 2.36 shots higher compared the venue’s annual PGA Tour stop. The penalty for the rough was +0.1 shots, with gnarliest impact coming at the par-5 18th – where finding the rough off the tee equated to +.25 strokes.
Speaking of the 18th, it is one of our key holes for taking on Torrey. It's one of four par 5s on the course and players will need to take advantage of each of them if they want to keep pace with the field. The par 4s represent some of the most challenging on Tour and yield more 200+ yard approach shots than other venues (3.5 shots from 200+ at Torrey while Tour average is 2.8). What’s the conclusion? Distance and accuracy will be a premium this week.
Let’s dive into Trottie’s full evaluation.
After navigating the very challenging first hole, the second represents the field’s first solid opportunity at birdie. It’s seemingly straightforward as a shortish par 4, but players will need to be cognizant of fairway bunkers to the left and right. The decision to take driver in search of a 100 yard or less approach shot is the best play statistically. Don't get distracted by the beautiful views and the hang-gliding that's going on here. Pick a point, focus on it and strike away.
The 6th hole has been the easiest hole on the course for the last few seasons. The slight dogleg right par-5 surrenders birdies 40% of the time at the Tour level. For that reason, failing to make a four means you’re losing shots to the field. The best chance at birdie comes from the left side of the fairway. From there, players have a green light to hit this green in two.
The 12th commonly ranks among the hardest holes on the PGA Tour. At over 500 yards, this long par 4 plays into a prevailing wind off the Pacific Ocean. You’ll have done well to leave yourself an approach shot inside 220 yards. If you have to miss, miss short. Players get up and down at a much higher rate from in front of this green than when missing to the left or right.
No. 15 has matured into the second most difficult hole on the course within the last few years. Driver is the play off the tee, with the goal being an approach shot inside 190 yards from the left side of the fairway, A new tee box adds another dimension, giving the option to stretch it to 517 yards.
The 18th is famous for many reasons, those fist pumps from 2008 are burned into the memory of anyone who loves golf.
It presents a strong birdie opportunity and gives players a chance to end the round on a positive note. Under normal Tour conditions, players will go for the green in two whether they’re in the fairway or in the first cut. However, with major championship rough, finding the fairway will be critical to scoring well on this closing par 5. The water rarely comes into play for those who elect to golf for it. Only 21 players (5%) have drenched it in over the last four years.