‘I would’ve never known’: Rare internal out-of-bounds lurks again at Sony Open
In his pre-tournament press conference at the Sony Open earlier this week, Jordan Spieth was asked about the internal out-of-bounds to the right of Waialae‘s long par-4 13th hole.
“The one that doglegs around the bunker? Down the right side?” Spieth said, thinking back on his practice round that day. “I hit it right of the bunker, but I wasn’t out of bounds. I wasn’t out of [the] cart path.”
To which the inquiring reporter said, “Right of the red hazard area, it’s constituted internal out-of-bounds.”
“Thank you,” Spieth said wryly. “I would’ve never known, and it would’ve never been a problem. Now I’m going to be in the left rough for days.”
In the first round on Thursday, Spieth did not, in fact, find the left rough. He instead tried to cut the corner of the dogleg-right and deposited his drive into the hole’s lone fairway bunker. That miscue led to the sole blemish on his card: a bogey 5.
But back to the O.B. A year ago, internal O.B. became an early-week storyline at the Sony when tournament organizers alerted the field on the eve of the first round that white stakes had been installed between the 18th and 10th holes. With no grandstands on site on account of Covid, players teeing off on the dogleg-right par-5 18th could shorten the effective distance of the hole by playing up 10. Now that the stands are back in place this year, the stakes have been removed.
But internal O.B. still lurks at Waialae — at the 13th. The stakes are not a new addition, even if Spieth was oblivious to them.
“It’s been in place for many years, at least 20 years,” a Tour spokesperson told GOLF.com. “Maintains the integrity of the design of the hole. Keeps players from playing down 12 backwards.”
It also protects players on 12 from the threat of incoming Titleists.
Internal O.B. is rare on the PGA Tour but not unique to the Sony; sometimes it’s added to thwart shortcuts, other times to keep players and fans safe.
In 2021, the Tour’s flagship event, the Players Championship, added internal O.B. to the 18th hole on the TPC Sawgrass Stadium to prevent players from flying their tee shots over the lake to the 9th hole, which set up an easier angle into the green.
At the 2017 Open Championship, the R&A added OB on the 9th hole to safeguard spectators. Two years later, also at the Open Championship, Rory McIlroy wasted little time finding the internal O.B. at Royal Portrush. He hooked his opening tee shot on Thursday on to the wrong side of the stakes, leading to a crushing quadruple-bogey 8.
The 13th at Waialae didn’t produce any quads Thursday but it did yield two doubles, and, with a scoring average of 4.321, played as the second-toughest hole of the day.