One of the biggest decisions players had to make Friday at the 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive came on the par-4 11th hole. Go for it, or lay up? The hole was shortened to a tantalizing 298 yards Friday after playing 362 yards in the opening round.
We watched seven groups – 21 players – play the 11th hole on Friday. Nine layed up and 12 went for the green, but only two players got it there on their tee shot.
First, here's what the 11th looks like.
Driving the green gives players an opportunity for an eagle. Two of the first four eagles at the PGA Championship came on the 11th hole, including the first of the Championship from Satoshi Kodeira. However, the pond that's positioned to the right of the fairway and the green can be a risky proposition.
Yusaku Miyazato and Byeong Hun An went for the green. Both hit their tee shots into the pond and bogeyed the hole. Only one of the other 19 players bogeyed the hole and that was Adam Hadwin, who nearly pitched his ball into the pond on his second shot after laying up.
Most players who tried to drive the green had a tendency of hitting their balls left of the green, including two golfers who hit their drives way left. Alexander Bjork and Scott Brown sent their drives out of the ropes near the cart path and gallery.
Both players managed to scramble for par.
Rafa Cabrera Bello and Kevin Streelman were the two players who drove the green but neither had a particularly close eagle putt. Cabrera Bello's tee shot landed 41 feet from the hole and Streelman's settled 16 feet from the pin after flirting with a hole-in-one.
Friday's pin location was 30 paces from the bottom of the green and six from the left, putting it on the left side in the back third of the green.
Four of the nine players who layed up birdied the hole, including Billy Horschel who set up a birdie putt with the pitch below, and six of the 12 golfers who tried to drive the green carded a birdie.
Using data from the PGA Tour Shot Tracker, the 11th hole ranked as the third-easiest hole at the PGA Championship – as of about 4 p.m. Central on Friday – with an average score of 3.784 and two eagles. Trying to drive the green can be a solid decision, but pushing your drive right toward the pond is the quickest way to card a bogey on one of the easiest holes on the course.
In the end, there's not necessarily a right or wrong decision – it just depends on which clubs in your bag you trust the most.