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Toughest holes on PGA Tour in 2006

Poppy Hills is regarded as the easiest of the three courses used at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, mainly because it has five par 5s. But that's not to say every hole at Poppy is a pushover.

Here's something for the clubhouse mantle: It had the toughest hole on the PGA Tour this year.

Even including major venues like Augusta National and Winged Foot, the toughest scoring hole in 2006 was the 426-yard fifth hole at Poppy Hills, which was nearly a half-stroke over par at 4.492.

The rest of the top 50 is not much of a surprise.

The U.S. Open was the toughest of the four majors -- Geoff Ogilvy won at 5-over 285 -- and it was reflected in the list. Winged Foot had six of the hardest holes among the top 20, and 10 holes ranked among the top 50. The first and 18th holes at Winged Foot were tied for third at 4.471, ranked one spot behind the 505-yard 11th hole at Augusta National (4.474).

Oddly enough, the Masters didn't have another hole in the top 50.

Royal Liverpool had two holes among the top 50 (No. 12 was ranked 33rd and No. 14 was 39th). The PGA Championship was a pushover this year on rain-softened greens, so it was no surprise that Medinah had only one hole in the top 50 -- No. 16 came was ranked 40th.

That fifth major -- The Players Championship -- had only one hole in the top 50. The 18th hole at Sawgrass was ranked No. 5.

Among regular PGA Tour events, the South Course at Torrey Pines (Buick Invitational) had five holes in the top 50, with the 477-yard 12th hole the highest ranked at No. 9. Torrey Pines has been expanded to 7,568 yards and will host the U.S. Open in 2008. The Country Club at Mirasol (Honda Classic) had four of the hardest holes among the top 50.

And as an example of how weather dictates everything in golf, consider the Plantation Course at Kapalua. Ernie Els set the PGA Tour record in the '03 Mercedes Championships by winning at 31-under par. This year, with slick greens that were even faster because of the blustery conditions, the Plantation Course had two holes ranked among the top 10 -- the 380-yard third hole was at No. 7 and the 218-yard second hole came in at No. 10.

December 13, 2006


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