TPC Harding Park: The three key holes

Scott Michaux looks at the three holes which could prove make-or-break at the US PGA Championship this week
TPC Harding Park: The three key holes
Mark Hubbard hits from a bunker to the 15th green during practice for the US PGA Championship golf tournament at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

No. 4 (Par 5, 607 yards) 

Brooks Koepka calls Harding Park a “big-boy golf course,” and there is no bigger hole than this true 3-shotter for the vast majority of field. With two of the usual par 5s (Nos. 9 and 12) converted to long par 4s for the PGA, the 562-yard 10th hole serves as the only reasonably reachable scoring opportunity. But the long dogleg left fourth will take more work to walk away with birdie. Overhanging Cypress trees guard the corner off the tee and it requires a solid ball-striking gameplan to negotiate properly to set up the best approach angle to bring birdie into play.

No. 16 (Par 4, 336 yards) 

Nothing more entertaining than a reachable par 4 in the stretch run of a major championship course. The 16th is pretty straightforward except a small cluster of ball-gobbling Cypress trees on the right forcing a cut shot into a target area that gets ever narrower the closer you get to the green. The big hitters like Bryson DeChambeau will have a hard time resisting having a go at it and could lead to eagles or doubles. The cautious players will lay up short of bunkers on the left and try to make birdies with the wedge.

No. 18 (Par 4, 480 yards) 

It sounds like a long finisher, but players can cut that distance of the dogleg left with more aggressive lines over the inlet of Lake Merced in front of the tee. The danger, as it is everywhere at Harding Park, are the Cypress trees that will dictate just how aggressive players want to be. It’s paramount to find the fairway to give yourself a chance to get it close to the pin on the tiered green, but as Tiger Woods and John Daly showed in thrilling playoff in 2005, bombers will love the chance to be aggressive and try to make something dramatic happen.

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