Are this week’s grandstands too close? Xander Schauffele took advantage
But that score could have been one or two strokes higher were it not for the placement of the grandstands on No. 15.
The World No. 7 found himself in the middle of the fairway on the tricky, 590-yard, dogleg left par-5. The green is flanked by large pines and a pond short left of the green that force a second shot to either be hooked around the trees or hit over them. And of the three par-5s and one drivable par-4 this week, the 15th is the hole the fewest players attempt to reach in two. The juice isn’t totally worth the squeeze.
Schauffele had 280 to the green, downwind, and was debating whether to hit 4-wood or a hybrid.
“Had about 255, 250 to get over the water, 267 front edge,” he said. “We had hybrid for a second, and my caddie [Austin Kaiser] just said, we just have to hit it over the water. Smoked a 4-wood, I actually hit the gap where you walk to the 16th tee.”
His ball one-hopped the green and found a roughly six-foot gap between the grandstands, which wrapped around the green about 10-15 yards away from the putting surface. His third was blocked by the stanchion, allowing Schauffele a free drop.
A PGA Tour official paced off 35 steps from his ball and then paced off another 35 steps to the left of the hole, back inside the grandstands where he could drop and still have a clear view of the green.
“That chip was a lot easier than being just over the green, kind of closer toward that walkway,” Schauffele said.
He went from having to play a short-sided shot with the green working away from him off dirt, to chipping off the grass about 22 yards away from his original shot and making an easy birdie.
The drop begs the question if the grandstands might be too close to the green.
“I think you’d see less guys go for it if the grandstands weren’t there,” Schauffele said. “Because [goal] No. 1 is to hit it really high and really far and get over the water. Once you do that, the landing area between the water and the middle of the green is only 20 yards, maybe 15-20 yards, so realistically we’re not that good, we can’t hit a low or a high feely cut with a 3-wood and land it perfectly 275. We’re just trying to get over the water, first things first.”
“I think the bleacher is in a good spot,” he added with a smile.