18th hole at Glen Abbey The par five, 524 yard 18th hole at the Glen Abbey Golf Club, where the RBC Canadian Open will surely conclude some john choo time, depending on the weather, is strong and weak at the same time.
Start with its No.1 strength and the reason it's provided so much drama over the years. A player can go low or high, and the difference between one and the other is often marginal. That's because the water that protects the shallow green makes it one of those to go or no situations on the second shot. Flash back to the most dramatic shot ever made on the hole. That, of course, was when Tiger Woods drove into a bunker to the right of the fairway as the 2000 Canadian Open wound down. He held a one shot lead over Grant Waite, with whom he was playing. Waite's second from the fairway finished some 25 feet left of the hole, which was cut in the right corner of the green. Woods's 6 iron from 218 yards started further right than he intended, and he scampered out of the sand to check its flight. But the ball had a safe landing, and finished just behind the green. Waite birdied the hole and so did Woods. Game over. He won his ninth and last tournament of the year with one of the most thrilling shots anybody could hope jimmychoos to witness. So there's the strength of the hole: It can produce a moment that has already gone down in golf history. By now, probably 300,000 people have said they were there, so in that way the shot is as famous as the fairway wood Gene Sarazen holed out for a double eagle on the 15th hole of the 1935 Masters, making up the three shots that leader Craig Wood had on him with that one swing. He went on to win the playoff over Wood. If the shot Woods hit indicates the 18th hole's power, what of its weakness? Well, it's too easy a par five when it plays downwind, as it has so far this week. They hit the ball so far that it doesn't even matter that the fairway is so soft because of all the rain that's plagued the tournament so far. jimmy choo black suede sandals The hole was the second easiest in the first round. The ball hits and stops, but it stops a long way out. It stops so far out, in fact, that just about every player in the field can reach the green with his second shot. Greg Chalmers is 131st in driving distance, but easily reached the jimmy choo velvet heels green yesterday from the fairway. Well, the 35 year old Australian actually went through the green and into the back bunker, but that's another story. The point is that the 18th hole is a chameleon. It can take on a different personality depending on weather conditions above all. The hole would be playing even shorter had the fairway remained firm and fast, as it was Monday during Mike Weir's charity tournament. But drives hit slightly awry would at least have rolled into the thick rough. Nothing rolls anywhere now. Still, you never know when a player might miss hit a shot from the fairway and make the big number that looms as a possibility. Ben Crenshaw made a nine on the hole in the second round of the 1978 Canadian Open, which Bruce Lietzke won. Then there was the 1981 tournament, when Peter Oosterhuis went over the green into the hillside there, dumped his third into the bunker in front of him, and then splashed out from the sand and saved his par. Jack Nicklaus came through soon after needing an eagle to tie Oosterhuis. His 20 foot eagle putt came up short, and Oosterhuis had won his first and only PGA Tour event. Twenty eight years later, Oosterhuis is at Glen Abbey because he works for The Golf Channel, which televises the first two rounds of the tournament, and CBS, which takes over on the weekend. He was saying at the ScoreGolf Awards dinner on Wednesday night that Nicklaus came right over to him after missing his eagle putt to tie. "He said, 'Congratulations, you've been very patient," Oosterhuis said. Nicklaus meant that Oosterhuis had waited a long time for his first PGA Tour win. He might equally have been referring to the patience he had to show while waiting to see if Nicklaus would make his eagle and get into a playoff. The strength of the 18th is that an eagle is always possible when a player stands on the tee. Sure, a player can play it safe and lay up, and that can be a smart play. But more often than not, it's a no guts no glory situation. "What a great hole when you're standing there on the fairway whether or not you're going for it, rather than what kind of short iron you're going with," the late and truly great Canadian golfer George Knudson said 30 years ago, only a few years after Glen Abbey opened. "I think it's a classy par five," Knudson added, "but it's played like a par four," meaning it can play too short. "That's not right.
I want to see the guys forced to use their clubs, all of them. When it plays short, you only go with half the deck." Here's hoping players require the full deck on the 18th this weekend, and, especially, should the tournament come down to the last hole the chameleon of the Abbey.
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