Scottie Scheffler called it “the hardest hole I’ve ever played” and the stats confirm that the world No2 was not indulging in hyperbole. Since the appropriate records began 30 years ago never has a hole been any more difficult in a US PGA Championship than the par-four sixth here at Oak Hill.
On Friday, the average score on the 503-yarder was 4.75, bowing in major history only to the fourth at Royal St George’s in 2011 when the Open organisers messed up the course set-up and only four players managed to reach that fairway.
After two rounds, the field was a combined 180-over par on the East Course’s most brutal test and that was 56 shots more than any of the other 17. At the halfway point “Double Trouble” – as it is named on the scorecard – was playing .577 above par and for reference the most a hole has averaged so far on the PGA Tour this year was the 10th at Club de Golf Chapultepec in the Mexico Open at .417 above par.
“Take your bogey and run,” quipped Justin Rose.
In the second round there were only three birdies there all day, but 27 double-bogeys or worse. “I don’t know what everybody else is saying or what the scoring average is showing, but it’s pretty stinking hard,” Scheffler said.
This is one of three new holes fashioned in Andrew Green’s radical renovation of this Rochester gem. With the wind against, it takes a mighty blow simply to get to the fairway. And the gap is narrow, demanding the pro hits it between the trees to the landing area with marshland and creek on the right and two bunkers on the left, wickedly placed 300 yards off the tee.
Once there, the sixth twists to the right, with a creek to be crossed. The water hazard wraps around the green to the left, while there are bunkers on the right.
“It’s crazy difficult,” Mito Pereira, who finished third in this event last year, said. “It’s 500 yards, into the wind, water right. If you hit it in the rough, you are chipping out. Water around the green. I mean, it’s really, really tough. I hit a good driver, hit 4-iron, and made a really good par.”
Pereia wondered if it was entirely fair, while Viktor Hovland suggested one change might be in order. “I think for as narrow as it is and how long it is, I think the second bunker on the left is maybe a little bit too severe because that is the bail-out,” he said.
On Saturday morning it was up to its evil tricks again, with the first player there, Mark Hubbard taking a six. Three groups later, US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson did the same. Unsurprising, really, as the PGA of America had made it two yards longer overnight. Cruel.
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