The par-3 15th hole at the Los Angeles Country Club on Saturday was 81 yards, making it the shortest hole in U.S. Open history.
Only a golfer can fully comprehend the mental anguish of such a bite-sized challenge, but one way to understand the situation is this. No one likes a hole where it’s easier to throw a ball onto the green than it is to drop it onto the green. at the golf club.
Round 3’s setting includes the steeply sloping 15th green. 3 huge and threatening bunkers surrounding the target area. And there’s knotty, knee-high grass all around. And oh yeah, the approach shots are uphill and the players have strong winds on their backs.
So let’s move on, who do you want to go first? What about five-time major champion Brooks Koepka?
Didn’t Koepka hint earlier this week that LA country clubs might be too easy? Perhaps he had holes under 100 yards in mind. (The previous U.S. Open shortest hole record was his 92 yards at the 2010 tournament.)
Koepka was three under par in Saturday’s round and was firmly in the top 10 when he moved up to 15th. However, his tee shot didn’t touch at all and flew all the way to the back of the green. His first putt was pretty short. His next putt was long. The third putt simply missed the hole. Koepka hit a double bogey to make it extremely unlikely to win his sixth major at this year’s British Open.
who’s next? don’t be shy.
Next came Tom Kim, the most eye-catching golfer in Saturday’s early wave of players, on the 15th tee. Kim attacked 5,637 yards of LACC terrain over the first 14 holes and made seven birdies. He had just pared on the formidable 627-yard, par-5 14th hole.
So how hard is an 81-yard hole really?
Kim, who tried to play delicately, skillfully flipped a neat small wedge. He has one problem. About two yards short of the green, I rolled backwards in a yawning bunker. His shot from the sand bounced to the back of the green, 22 feet from the hole. After two putts and a bogey, Kim stared over his shoulder at the 15th green and walked away shaking his head.
After the round, Kim summed up Saturday’s diabolical little ordeal on the historic 15th hole.
“If you wait too long, you will die,” he said. “If you’re short, you’ll die. You don’t want to bail out left because that’s going to put him 40 feet down the hill. Bogey from 80 yards isn’t very good statistically. , a double bogey will definitely have an impact.”
Kim finished the day at 3-under and is still in contention for the title.
Golf’s mad scientist Bryson DeChambeau looked very determined while playing on the 15th tee. When fellow player Keith Mitchell nearly got hit with an errant shot down the 14th fairway, he didn’t flinch. DeChambeau threw a wedge 10 feet for par.
“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life to get on the green,” he said. “I’m super happy.”
DeChambeau said he chose a 60-degree wedge and teed the golf ball very high to create more spin and loft.
“It was a very difficult and demanding shot,” he added. “Par is a great score.”
Even if it was only 81 yards?
“I’d rather have a longer run tomorrow,” said DeChambeau, who finished at 3-under.
The 15th hole was not played Saturday as one of the most difficult holes on the golf course. But with 11 birdies, four bogeys and one notable double-bogey in a field of 65, it seems surprising that Hall’s score average was 2.92.
Forty-nine of the world’s best golfers scored par or better on the 81-yard hole. Once again, golf is, as they say, a game of opposites. For example, to make the ball go up, you have to hit it down. In that sense, the 15th hole of Round 3 of the 2023 U.S. Golf Championship was probably perfect.
Perhaps 2019 British Open winner Shane Lowry said it best.
“It was different than usual,” he said with a smile. “It’s okay to be different. But I had a plan. The plan was par.”