Course Spotlight

These are the craziest things that have happened on TPC Sawgrass' 17th hole

By T.J. Auclair
Published on
Jason Day of Australia putts on the 17th green during the second round of THE PLAYERS Championship at the Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 12, 2017 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Jason Day of Australia putts on the 17th green during the second round of THE PLAYERS Championship at the Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 12, 2017 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Players Championship takes place this week at TPC Sawgrass.
The course is one of Pete Dye's most brutally difficult designs... and that's saying something.
On a course chockfull of memorable holes, none stick out as much as the iconic island green, par-3 17th.
On the surface, this hole seems like it'd be a piece of cake for touring pros. At its longest, the hole is about 175 yards and usually plays a lot shorter than that -- a wedge or 9-iron for most players. It's the shortest hole on the course.
When you factor in the wind, the pressure of the tournament and the massive crowds, suddenly the hole is among the most daunting in golf.
Through the years, there have been crazy moments on No. 17. Here's a look at some of our favorites.
No. 5: Will MacKenzie's "all-world" par in 2015
How it went down: The pin was way back and a little left of center, about 174 yards from the tee markers, so MacKenzie aimed that direction. MacKenzie lost his tee shot just a tough to the left. It landed on the railroad ties right on the edge of the green and somehow bounced back, along the player's path to the green and on dry land. With his second shot, MacKenzie bounced a chip up the player's path and onto the green, within 3 feet of the hole. Of course, he made the putt.
4. Caddie Mark Urbanek throws ball onto the green 
How it went down: Every Wednesday of Players Championship week, the caddies get to take their crack at the famous par-3 17th. The Annual Caddie Competition benefits the Bruce Edwards Foundation (Edwards was the longtime caddie of Tom Watson, who died after a battle with ALS). In 2017, James Hahn's caddie, Mark Urbanek, decided that instead of hitting a shot, he would instead attempt to throw a golf onto the green from the tee box. He did just that and got it to stop within 20 feet of the hole -- something most players would gladly take all four tournament days.
3. Stenson's caddie throws club in the water 
Gareth Lord, caddie for Henrik Stenson, pulled off a great prank on his boss during the 2017 Caddie Competition. Keep in mind that the caddie's are using a club of their boss's in the competition. So, after hitting his shot well short and in the water, Lord proceeded to launch Stenson's iron into the water. At first, Stenson looks to be in disbelief, but Lord quickly let's him know he'd been set up and it wasn't really one of Stenson's "gamer" irons. Good thing, too. Stenson doesn't look like the kind of guy you want to get upset.
2. Richard H. Lee's shortest consecutive shots in PGA Tour history 
In 2014, Richard H. Lee found the back fringe with his tee shot in the final round of the Players.  Lee attempted to hit a "belly" wedge onto the green.
The problem? He very nearly missed the ball entirely.
Once the club made contact on the top of the ball, it traveled a mere inches. Realizing that perhaps the belly wedge wasn't the best idea, Lee then opted for his putter. The rough grabbed the putter and he nearly missed the ball again, sending it just a few inches further and still not on the green.
Proving that kids have the best sense of humor, Lee tweeted this out a day later about his blunder: 
1. The Fred Couples hole-in-three
It could be argued that this is the craziest thing to ever happen on No. 17. In the first round of the 1999 Players Championship (it was played in the month of March then and remained that way until switching to May in 2007), fan favorite Fred Couples stepped to the tee. Like many before him -- and countless thousands since then -- Couples splashed his tee shot into the water.
Nothing special, unique, or crazy there. But what happened next was amazing... arguably even more amazing than when Couples aced the same hole in 1997.
Couples re-teed and, playing his third shot, proceeded to knock that shot into the hole, on the fly, for the most unlikely of pars.
"I don't really know how hard I was trying on my third shot," Couples, a two-time Players Champion, admitted years later (he shot a 77 in that opening round, by the way). "If I don't make that shot, I think I shoot 80, 81 and probably miss the cut. Three days later, I was in fourth place."
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