But it could very well be one of the toughest next week.
That's what happens when you add 45 yards to an uphill par 4 that will most likely play straight into the wind.
Of all the changes made to Pebble Beach since the 2000 U.S. Open, the new championship tee on the 440-yard par 4 might affect play the most.
The strategy behind the new tee was to make a bunker that starts in front of the fairway and wraps around to the left relevant again. During the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, it was only 200 yards to reach the fairway and 276 yards to power it past the bunker on the left, as well as three others on the
But now, it's 255 yards to reach the fairway, and 331 yards to get past those bunkers. And the drive plays significantly uphill.
"The longer guys are going to be hitting 150-160 yard shots in vs. 100-yard shots in," said RJ Harper, the senior Vice President of Golf for the Pebble Beach Company.
To boot, No. 13 is part of a long march back to the Lodge that plays into the prevailing summer winds. The first 10 holes work their way out to Carmel Beach with the wind at your back, but then you turn around to head back in, battling the wind the rest of the way.
"If we do get a couple-club wind into their face, it brings that cross bunker into play, and
The wind could be such a factor that players might not be able to carry the beginning of the long bunker that starts in front of the fairway before running up the left side for 75 yards. So the United States Golf Association has extended a ribbon of fairway to the right of the bunker, where players can aim a safer shot.
That's to prevent an episode similar to what happened in the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, when some players couldn't even reach the 10th fairway after the elements kicked up on the unforgiving setup.
"So what we did was give the players a choice and say, 'If you don't think you can make it over that cross bunker, go ahead and play out to the right,'" Davis said. "Even if they end up hitting it short of the cross bunker, it's still only 200 yards, 220 yards into the green."
If players can pull it off, they'll want to challenge that cross bunker and finish on the left side of the fairway to give themselves the best angle into a treacherous green that slopes steeply from back-to-front and right-to-left. An approach shot from the right side of the fairway will race across the green.
"You need to hit the ball down the left side of the fairway to give yourself an angle where you're firing back up into the hill," Tiger Woods told the Los Angeles Times before the 2000 U.S. Open, something that's still true today. "From there, keep the ball at all costs below the hole. If you do that, you'll do just fine."
Kevin Merfeld can be reached at 646-4457 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
·Yardage: 440 yards
·What's new: A new tee box adds 45 yards, brings cross bunker into play