PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — The 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course is where dreams can come true and drown.
A caddie can play a big role in a PGA TOUR professional's success.
"It's such an interesting hole because everybody thinks about 17 and rightly so it's the most iconic Par 3 in the world, but once you get through with that you take a quick breath but then you've probably got the most physically demanding hole on the entire golf course. It's a really tough tee shot it's a really tough second shot and if you're in position it's more than you want," NBC Sports Golf analyst, John Wood, said.
Wood, a former caddie for PLAYERS Champion, Matt Kuchar, walked the 18th hole and discussed strategy with First Coast Sports Andrew Badillo.
AB: So, John I think the thing that strikes me when I stand on the tee box is what am I aiming at. Do I aim at the clubhouse and peel a slight fade off of it, do I look at the trees, a nice baby draw? I guess it depends on the wind.
JW: It depends on the wind; it depends on your shot shape. You want your player to hit his most comfortable shot here. If he normally plays at fade, you don't want him to come up on this tee shot and say you need to play a draw here. There's an oak tree up there that kind of shapes like a 'V' with this into the left to right that's right along the edge of the water if you start the ball at that and let it drift to the right that's dead center of the fairway. If you want to hit more of a draw the year Justin Thomas won, he hit a nice draw fairway wood around the corner you can aim as far right as you want because once you get that shape going the fairway just keeps going.
AB: Alright, John your player bails out here (passed the right rough into the pine straw) you have a one-shot lead in The PLAYERS Championship in Round 4. What are you telling your player from this spot?
JW: It's a great question because this pine straw is so thick and it's tough to make good contact you just sometimes can't compress the ball like you'd like. Obviously, we have this opening here going towards the green that we talked about. If they're comfortable, if this is the shot that they immediately say this is what I want to do you let them go. If they feel unsure and you sense that uncertainty then you talk them back and say look, we're going to pitch this thing out you're going to leave yourself 85 yards and at worse you're going to have an 8-footer to win the tournament. It takes double bogey out of play if you do that. You can see even if you're right there and you have that whole through the chute there the whole fairway slopes down towards the water and you're hitting that way which makes it such a risk hitting that shot but these guys are so good and if they've got a good lie most of them, I think will probably take a shot at it.
AB: A successful tournament is a win, what's a successful broadcast for you?
If I brought something maybe, they (fans) haven't heard before about a hole, a player, or a caddie that's successful to me because there's so much more that go into these shots that people really know that's taken for granted. If I can get some time in to explain that to viewers, I love doing that.