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Lee Westwood: "At the end of the day, everybody is playing the same hole." (Franklin/Getty Images)

The monsters on this course? The brutally long par-3s

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It would be accurate to call Oakland Hills' shortest holes as "mini monsters," except there's nothing mini about them as players in the PGA Championship are finding out.

By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Typically when someone or something is nicknamed, "The Monster," it's for good reason.

That's what Oakland Hills Country Club has been known as ever since the 1951 U.S. Open, when only two players recorded sub-par rounds throughout the entire tournament. Ben Hogan won that '51 U.S. Open and famously said after his final-round 67, "I am glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees."

Still monstrous for this week's 90th PGA Championship and playing at 7,395 yards and a par of 70, there are four mini-monsters players will have to contend with. Oakland Hills has four par-3 holes -- Nos. 3, 9, 13 and 17. The shortest of the quartet is No. 13 at 191 yards. The longest is No. 9 at 257 yards.

"They're supposed to be short holes, right?" asked Woody Austin, who was the runner up in the 2007 PGA Championship at Southern Hills. "Isn't that what a par-3 is? Short?"

Along with Nos. 9 and 13, the two "middle-length" par-3s at Oakland Hills play to 198 yards (No. 3) and 238 yards (No. 17). In other words, while technically a par-3 is "supposed to be short," as Austin points out, these are anything but.

"There's no reason not to have long par 3s," said Lee Westwood, who was a member of the 2004 European Ryder Cup team that dominated the Americans at Oakland Hills. "At the end of the day, everybody is playing the same hole. Maybe the green wasn't designed for 3-wood on some holes, you know, but it seems to be the age of change at the moment and there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to consider 3 a great score on some of these holes, I suppose.

More PGA Championship:
Pairings, tee times
The Wanamaker Trophy
Oakland Hills changes
Hole-by-hole

"We have all got the equipment, these rescues and things like that; hybrid, that wing it up high in the air now, and we're supposed to make it come down soft," Westwood added. "So I suppose if manufacturers are going to come out with clubs like that, that the PGA and everybody has got to do something to test your skills out with those kind of clubs. So, who knows. One way of dealing with it, I suppose, they think."

On No. 3, players get a clean look at the straightforward hole. The green runs diagonally from right to left and is surrounded by five bunkers. The further back the hole is cut, the more difficult the shot becomes because the green narrows.

The ninth hole, the longest of the short ones, has been lengthened by 38 yards and is expected to play as the most difficult hole on the course.

While the 13th hole is the shortest, the green complex and the six bunkers that surround it might make it the most treacherous of all since it has the smallest margin for error. The green falls off on all sides and will require a high middle-iron shot that lands softly.

Finally there's No. 17. Talk about a monster. While it's not the longest of the par 3s on the card, it could be depending on the wind. The green at No. 17 lays 30 feet above the tee and is surrounded by deep bunkers. Luckily, there is bail-out room for the players short of this green, just like at No. 9.

"I noticed they have given us a bit of fairway short of 17 and nine, so if you want, you can lay up," Westwood joked.

Kenny Perry has always been one of the biggest hitters on the PGA Tour. Even for him, the par 3s at Oakland Hills will be a beast.

"This golf course is great. The setup's great," he said. "The best player's going to win this week. Nobody is going to be lucky enough to escape hitting poor shots and survive this golf course. I never hit woods into par 3s like I'm doing out here. It's very long, very demanding, very fair. You've got to hit it straight, bottom line."

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