Before the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Welsh golfer Ian Woosnam prodded the golf gods by taking a swipe at the sacred seventh hole.

"I don't know what all the fuss is about," said the 5-foot-4 Woosnam, about the equally diminutive 107-yard downhill par 3.

"It's just a mere practice hole."

Woosnam came into the final round of the 1992 U.S. Open at 3-under, just one shot behind third-round leader Gil Morgan and tied with eventual winner Tom Kite.

But when Woosnam reached that little practice hole — after getting six holes to warm up — he punched a 7-iron into the teeth of the wind that was swatted into a bunker for a bogey.

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Fans enjoyed the karma, serenading Woosnam with chants of "Practice hole! Practice hole!"

But Woosnam isn't alone in dismissing the seventh hole, which has gained all of two yards since the 1992 U.S. Open — to stretch out to 109 yards this year.

Esteemed golf course architect Pete Dye has said that if he were designing Pebble Beach, he would have walked right by the seventh without noticing the possibility of building the most famous little hole in the world.

Even Jack Nicklaus would have been fooled.

"I probably would have walked right by it, too," Nicklaus told Golf Digest, "because it wouldn't look like there's room enough for a hole.



But there was enough room on the exposed bluff behind the sixth green and before the eighth tee for Jack Neville and Douglass Grant to tuck away the shortest hole used in a U.S. Open since World War II.

In the third round of the 1992 U.S. Open, Kite needed just a sand wedge to hit the seventh green. In benign conditions, the downhill shot barely plays 90 yards. Tiger Woods made birdie on the seventh hole during the first three rounds of the 2000 U.S. Open.

But in the final round of the 1992 U.S. Open, with winds howling at 40 mph, Kite had to punch a 6-iron that was blown left of the green.

The seventh hole can play so brutal that during one Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, Sam Snead elected to hit a putter down the hill to keep his ball out of the wind — and more importantly, out of the ocean, which borders the green to the right and behind it. The green was once an island surrounded by a waste bunker, but today, there is a collection of six bunkers that guard a tiny putting surface just 25 paces deep.

Kite famously won the wind-ravaged 1992 U.S. Open, fueled by a chip-in for birdie on the seventh hole in the final round.

"I was almost in shock when it went in, and my initial reaction was to jump up and down," said Kite at the time. "The reality was I had so many more big shots left, but it got everything started."

The seventh hole marks the end of Pebble Beach's most scorable stretch, where there are short irons into every hole except Nos. 2 and 5. After the seventh hole, pros enter a gauntlet of three terrifying par 4s in a row.

"You can get through seven thinking this course isn't too tough, but then you better hold onto your underwear," said Johnny Miller, who won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in three different decades.

But as the seventh hole has shown, the wind can wreak havoc on even the simplest shots at Pebble Beach.

Kevin Merfeld can be reached at 646-4457 and

No. 7
·Yardage: 109 yards
·Par: 3
·What's new: This hole has only gained two yards since 1992, but the wind can force players to hit anything from a lob wedge to a 6-iron