Thursday, May 19, 2011

17 at TPC Sawgrass — Does It Belong In A Playoff?

In his Golf World Monday column this week, Dave Shedloski takes exception to the idea of beginning a playoff at the Players Championship at the 17th hole, and at least one Golf World reader, as well as Editor's Blog editor Bob Carney, think he’s all wet:

I have to go with Shedloski on this one. The 17th at TPC Sawgrass is dramatic, exciting, and a crowd-pleaser – in regulation play – but it has no place in a playoff scenario. The idea of a “sudden-death” playoff is hole-by-hole – it’s like shifting from stroke play to match play, in effect – not shot by shot. The 17th at TPC Sawgrass is too fickle, too capricious, to be the starting hole in a playoff. An unexpected gust of wind or a bad bounce can literally drown a player’s chance of victory at this one hole.

Look at the playoff at the Wells Fargo Championship the weekend before the Players: on the 18th hole, a challenging par-4, Jonathan Byrd hit his tee ball into a bunker to the right of the fairway, but he had a shot at getting onto the green from there; when his shot from the bunker went left and landed on the slope across the creek from the green, his chances for a victory were slimmer, but still viable, given a really good chip onto the green. We all know how that came out, but the point is that he had a shot at it. At the 17th at TPC Sawgrass a little push right or left, or a short shot, means you’re going home – no chance of recovery.

A win-or-lose decision after 72 holes of regulation play shouldn’t come down to one shot at a tricked-up carnival ride of a hole like the 17th at Sawgrass.

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