Shane Bacon's 5 toughest shots at the Waste Management Open

Published Feb. 4, 2016 3:50 p.m. ET

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Every golf course has a few nervy holes. The ones you start thinking about before you putt out on the green before -- or even worse, the ones you start thinking about in the parking lot as the shoes are going on and the fear begins setting in.

Pros approach golf a bit differently from amateurs, sure, knowing that every golf swing is its own entity, but even the best in the world can’t avoid trouble, especially when it’s right in front of their face.

So what are the golf shots that can ruin momentum this week for the guys at the Waste Management Open? Here are the five that should take a bit more concentration.

Tee shot, par-4 5th

At 470 yards, the fifth hole is the first true test for the players after a fairly benign start. It’s a tee shot that must find the fairway if you want to avoid the trouble that Tom Weiskopf brought in, with the problem being a difficult approach that has a wash guarding the green. The rough left of the fairway is so gnarly that a caddie joked that they never left Torrey Pines this week, and the bunker on the right side of the fairway means players have to get extremely lucky on their lie to have a look at the green. If you can get through the first five holes under par, it’s a fairly easy cruise through the rest of the opening nine, but the fifth is always one of the scariest tee shots at TPC Scottsdale, with par being your very best friend.

Tee shot, par-4 11th

With water left, desert right and a view for the players that doesn’t show a lot of fairway, the 11th is where this golf course starts to fight back. Anything left is wet, but a bailout right isn’t any easier, especially with an approach that must avoid going left again if you don’t want to be in the drink. If you can find the fairway on the 11th, the approach is fairly manageable, but it’s the tee shot there that is one of the most intimidating on the golf course.


Tee shot, par-3 12th

Watch out for the water on 12.

A 200-yard par-3 with water that creeps in uncomfortably on the right usually means the 12th plays as one of toughest holes of the week, but the sneaky hard part about 12 is a miss left means you have to mess with that water again. A lot of players who find the sand left, a bailout to avoid the hazard, still end up making bogeys, and when the wind is a factor, this tee shot is a nightmare. If you can get through 11 and 12 with pars, you know you have at least four good birdie opportunities coming in.

Second shot, par-5 15th

This risk-reward par-5 yields a ton of circles, but in cold conditions like we’ve had so far this week at TPC Scottsdale, players will be hitting fairway woods to this island green. Anything loose off the club face means the 15th turns from a birdie hole into guys trying hard to save par, and depending on the hole location, a short pitch shot isn’t exactly a gimme up-and-down. You want to make up shots on 15, but a bad swing off the tee or on the approach could be extremely frustrating for the players, and leaving this par-5 with a bogey (or worse) is extremely demoralizing.

Shane Bacon is a regular contributor to's golf coverage. Follow him on Twitter at @shanebacon.