No hole yielded fewer birdies during the 2000 U.S. Open than the 12th at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

The 202-yard par 3 gave up just 16 birdies in four rounds, tied with No. 9 for the fewest all week. That speaks to the difficulty of sticking a tee shot close on a green that is notoriously one of the firmest on the course.

Except for an extension on the fifth tee box to make it wider, none of the par 3s has been touched in the last 10 years.

And that includes the course's only inland par 3, the unheralded No. 12.

"We've done nothing to it," said RJ Harper, senior Vice President of Golf for the Pebble Beach Company.

That's because players are driven crazy by the same shot today as they were in 1972, the first time the U.S.

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Open came to Pebble Beach. A bunker that guards the left two-thirds of the green essentially reduces the landing area to a throat less than 10 yards wide that sits short right. Three more bunkers line the right side of the green and circle behind it.

Tom Watson remembers Jack Nicklaus hitting what appeared to be a perfect shot during the 1972 U.S. Open, only it trampolined off the back of the green.

"Jack could hit it higher than anybody, and he launched this 4-iron, I think it was, straight up in the air," Watson recounted to the United States Golf Association. "It landed on the very front left of the green and two-hopped over. That green was impossible to hit if you hit at the flag that day. It's just one of those things that you just had to play away from the flag.



If you aim over the bunker and try to challenge a left pin position, your 202-yard shot has just 16 paces of green to hold.

"My nemesis is the 12th hole," said Brad Faxon, who will be an analyst for NBC during the tournament. "I think I finally learned how to play it. I used to hit this high 4-iron or try to hit a high 4-iron to land it on the green anywhere. Now I try to be a little bit more precise and land it in the throat to the right front of the green. I let it bounce on because it will bounce left if I hit it just right in there. And when the green is hard, that's the only shot you have."

Tiger Woods remarkably made two birdies on the 12th hole during his 15-shot win in 2000. It was also a key hole for Tom Kite in his 1992 win.

Kite's final round is remembered primarily for his chip-in birdie at the wind tunnel that was the seventh hole. But another unexpected birdie closer to the finish might have been even more important.

Kite drained a 30-footer for birdie on the 12th hole, giving him a cushion that helped him win by two.

"A hole like par-3 No. 12, when Kite made his great birdie putt across the green, that's because he was aiming out to the right and he had the long putt," Faxon said. "That's the kind of thing I think Pebble Beach is so underrated about, the difficulty of some of the pins."

Kevin Merfeld can be reached at 646-4457 and

No. 12
·Yardage: 202 yards
·Par: 3
·What's new: There have been no changes; this green is one of the toughest to hit on the course