Hole by hole for the Ryder Cup
A hole-by-hole look at the No. 3 course of Medinah Country Club, site of the 39th Ryder Cup matches to be played Sept. 28-30:
No. 1, 433 yards, par 4: A narrow opening hole that could be a 3-wood off the tee to find a level landing area for the short iron approach to the green. The right side is preferred because of the bunker down the left side of the fairway. Two bunkers guard the front of the green, and a collection area awaits any approach that goes too long. Wind coming off the lake behind the green should play a role.
No. 2, 192 yards, par 3: The tee shot must carry Lake Kadijah, and it's all water from the left with nothing to shield the wind. Anyone who tries to play it safe by taking extra club could find a bunker behind the green.
No. 3, 412 yards, par 4: Two fairway bunkers down the right side should be avoided. Otherwise, a good tee shot will leave a wedge or short iron to a green that has bunkers on both sides. Any tee shot too far to the left edge of the fairway might bring trees into play for the second shot.
No. 4, 463 yards, par 4: The tee shot should favor the right side of a pitched fairway to keep the ball from bounding into the rough. Players might want to lay back to about 200 yards to avoid a downhill lie for the second shot. The approach is to an elevated green that is surrounded by bunkers and slopes severely from the back to the front.
No. 5, 536 yards, par 5: This can easily be reached in two because of the relatively short distance and the elevated tee. There are four fairway bunkers down the right side, and the hole plays uphill after the tee shot. The ideal drive would be slightly to the right to avoid trees that can block a second shot.
No. 6, 509 yards, par 4: This hole has been lengthened by 36 yards since the 2006 PGA Championship, and by 51 yards since the `99 PGA. Three fairway bunkers are down the left side, allowing for a good visual off the tee for a fade (except for Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson). A medium iron likely will be the choice into a green so severely pitched from back to front that putts above the hole can go off the green.
No. 7, 617 yards, par 5: A new tee allows this hole to play 30 yards longer than the 2006 PGA Championship. Depending on the conditions, only the big hitters will be able to get home in two. The drive should be toward the left because of limbs that hang down on the right side of the fairway. The green is protected by three large, deep bunkers, and slopes toward the front, with subtle breaks on the putting surface.
No. 8, 201 yards, par 3: The only par 3 without water. Players must be careful with their tee shot because of overhanging trees. The green is well-bunkered front and right, and all putts break toward the halfway house.
No. 9, 432 yards, par 4: The hole bends sharply to the left, and the drive should be aimed toward the pine trees down the center with a slight draw. The green is surrounded by three bunkers and slopes from the back right to the front left.
No. 10, 578 yards, par 5: A strategic par 5 that will be should be reachable in two shots, as long as they're very good shots. The drive should be toward the right of the fairway, short of the bunkers. Going for the green brings two bunkers into play. The safe play is to lay up, leaving a wedge to a small green that is steep and well-bunkered, and slopes from back to front more severely than any other green at Medinah.
No. 11, 440 yards, par 4: Another big bender to the left, which requires a well-placed tee shot toward the fairway bunker on the right. Anything too far left leaves a player blocked by large oak trees. Bunkers guard the smallest green on the course that is relatively flat.
No. 12, 476 yards, par 4: The drive should be toward the right for a better angle to the green. A large oak guards the left side of the green, and Medinah says it has been hit nearly 100,000 times by the members. The fairway slopes sharply to the right as it approaches the green, and anything short could kick toward the water. The green slopes from back left to front right.
No. 13, 245 yards, par 3: This could be a hybrid for most, a long iron for others, and it requires a solid shot by all. Three bunkers will catch any tee shot that doesn't land on a two-tiered green that slopes steeply toward the front.
No. 14, 609 yards, par 5: The big hitters will have an advantage if they can get to the top of the hill on a fairway that cants slights to the right. The second shot must clear another hill to leave a wedge to the green. Bunkers protect the front of the green, which is pitched toward the front and has subtle breaks.
No. 15, 391 yards, par 4: The biggest change on the course, this hole could be the most exciting. Water now adjoins the landing area and the green, and the PGA of America is likely to move the tees forward to give players the option of driving the green. The green is guarded by bunkers in the front and mounds in the back. A ridge coming in from the right forms a small plateau in the right rear of the green, with a collection area back and right.
No. 16, 482 yards, par 4: A new tee can lengthen this hole by 30 yards, leaving a mid-iron to an elevated green that might require one extra club. The valley in front of the green requires all carry on the approach, and the green slopes from right-to-left and is guarded by bunkers. It will take an amazing shot to change the signature moment on this hole from when Sergio Garcia closed his eyes and hit 6-iron behind an oak and onto the green.
No. 17, 193 yards, par 4: Elevated tee shot over Lake Kadijah, a tough shot because of the wind and the height. Pot bunkers to the back left of the green make it tough to save par. This figures to be one of the more critical tee shots if matches get this far.
No. 18, 449 yards, par 4: A relatively dull hole for the conclusion of the Ryder Cup, compared with Wales, Valhalla and The K Club. The tee shot should be toward the left to avoid a series of bunkers down the right side. The approach is to an elevated green protected by bunkers, with a collection area back and to the right.