The 17th hole at TPC at Sawgrass is the mecca of golf venues. The par-3 132-yard hole's island green just may be the most iconic image in American golf. It can also give players a late-round headache at The Players Championship.
According to Tiger Woods, too much of a headache.
In 2007, Woods argued to move the hole from 17th to 8th on the scorecard.
"I just think it's a wonderful hole, but I don't agree with it being the 17th or 71st hole of a championship because I just think that it is a little gimmicky in that sense," he said. "I think it's a great 8th hole or another part of the golf course."
On Tuesday, Woods, just four days removed from missing the cut at the Wells Fargo Championship, reiterated his argument in advance of this weekend's TPC.
"I think 17 is a great hole ... but not the 17th (hole)," he said. "I think it's a perfect eighth hole. I understand the premise behind it. It's dramatic. But it's a great eighth hole or something early in the back nine."
Although Woods has not experienced a ton of success at TPC at Sawgrass, he owns one of the 17th hole's most memorable putts. In 2001, Woods knocked in a two-tiered, double-breaking birdie putt from about 60 feet.
The shot propelled him to his only title at The Players Championship, a one-stroke win over Vijay Singh.
Woods is not the only tour star lobbying for change at the 17th hole. In Golf Magazine last month, David Toms questioned the hole's position on the course.
"It's a little much, really, because when the conditions are tough, sometimes there's no bail-out, so if you're leading by four or five shots, you get to that hole and you can't even play safe," he said.
Toms lost the 2011 Players Championship on the 17th hole in a playoff. As of last year's tournament, the 17th hole was listed as the first and fourth holes in the sudden death playoff. Toms, possibly bitter from his loss, believes change may be necessary in the tournament's playoff format.
"For a playoff situation, I think it would be better to just do an aggregate, like 16, 17 and 18," he said.
On the other side of the club, Paul Goydos, is a supporter of the 17th hole's current status. Like Toms, Goydos has lost the tournament in a playoff (2008). Unlike Toms, Goydos does not see why players make excuses about the hole.
"I think it's really good. It does everything it needs to do," he said. "Anywhere else, you wouldn't even be talking about it, if it was No. 12 or No. 9 or something. All things being equal, it's a 9-iron for the Tour players, and the reality is that a 15-handicapper can hit it on the green, too."
Goydos believes its forces golfers to think a little harder than usual. As the 71st hole, the arena tests both physical and mental skill. "If the hole were a 5-iron, 185 yards, I think it would be terrible," he said. "I've probably hit as much as a 7-iron there when it got windy, but the reality is, when I hit it in the water in the playoff, I hit a wedge. In that sense, I think that's what makes it a good hole. It's a test of your moxie. If there was no water around the hole, it would be the easiest hole on Tour."
Five years after Woods' comments, the No. 17 is still engraved at the tee box of the island green hole at TPC at Sawgrass. It still stands as the poster child of one of golf's most infamous courses.
Tiger Woods will play it at least two times this weekend. His play on the hole over the first two days may make or break whether he sticks around for the weekend or misses two consecutive cuts for the first time in his professional career.
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