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2020 PGA Championship: Make-or-break holes at TPC Harding Park

TPC Harding Park 9th hole
The 9th hole at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco

Finishing holes on each 9 could prove to be pivotal, and a brawny 606-yard par 5 might even prompt the bombers to gear down

Lined by Monterey cypress trees and bordering Lake Merced in southwest San Francisco, TPC Harding Park, the site of this week's PGA Championship, unfolds as a traditional parkland golf course.

Designed by Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, the city-owned course opened in 1925 and was named for the late Warren G. Harding, the 29th U.S. president, who died in office while visiting San Francisco in 1923. In 2002-03, the course was renovated by the PGA Tour, which wanted to bring tournaments to the Bay Area. The course became part of the TPC network in 2010.

With gently undulating fairways and greens, TPC Harding Park will play 7,234 yards and to a par 70 but has a few holes that will make or break the PGA Championship:

No. 4, par 5, 606 yards: PGA Tour players are used to seeing holes tip the scales at 600-plus yards. The longest hole on the course will be nearly impossible to reach in two when heavier sea-level air and cooler temperatures are factored. The hole bends from right to left, and a layup from a preferred wedge distance is an ideal play for most into a wide green that should yield some interesting hole locations.

No. 9, par 4, 525 yards: This converted par 5 ends the front nine with a bang. Players will be aware of the claustrophobia-inducing trees on their drive, along with bunkers down the right side. The hole typically requires a mid-long-iron approach. Players will be challenged to avoid bunkers and a steep swale to the right of the green.

No. 18, par 4, 468 yards: A true championship course requires an exceptional finishing hole. This long, gentle dogleg-left par 4 bends around Lake Merced. A new championship tee aims to put a little doubt in players’ minds about the bunkers on the right. Some viewers will recall this hole from when Tiger Woods faced off with John Daly in a sudden-death playoff for the 2005 WGC American Express Invitational. Woods pumped a drive on an aggressive line over a couple of those cypress trees and was feeling pretty good until Daly stepped onto the tee and blasted one past Woods by 15 yards. Assuming today’s players take similar lines, expect closing fireworks.

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