Last week’s WGC-Bridgestone was one for the ages, with strong performances coming out of Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and of course Justin Thomas ahead of this week’s PGA Championship.
But what Rory McIlory did on the 16th hole Sunday at Firestone still has me scratching my head in astonishment.
For those of you who might have missed it, the 16th hole played as a 667 yard Par 5 that day, and Rory found himself just a little long (yes LONG) and left of the green after his second shot.
He got there with a monster 420 yard drive, followed by a mid-iron (I believe I remember the announcers saying it was a 7-iron) approach carrying the remaining 234 yard distance. He was left with a simple 51 ft pitch shot back to the green.
The 16th hole at Firestone is aptly called “The Monster” because it traditionally holds the title for being the longest hole on the PGA TOUR.
And Rory effectively tamed that distance in two strokes!
You can make your arguments for advancements in golf ball and club technology, or lean on thee fact that sports fitness has become about as advanced rocket science in recent years, but no matter how you shake it out the truth is that golf courses simply can’t be made “too long” for today’s top players.
So is the regular occurrence of 700+ yard Par 5s in our future? Personally, I hope not, and I don’t think that’s the answer anyway.
Carnoustie was a respectable (but nothing crazy) 7,402 from the tips and it laid forth a formidable challenge to the world’s best in this year’s British Open. Likewise, Shinnecock played to 7,440 yards and Brooks Koepka took home trophy with a final score of +1.
I will however concede to the fact that the top 5 finishers at the 2018 U.S. Open are no slouches when it comes to driving distance. Koepka, Fleetwood, Johnson, Reed, and Finau can all put on a show when their drivers are hot. However, Molinari won the British open on the back of his short and approach game, not his length off the tee (currently ranked 42nd in driving distance).
So I think the best thing to do is to stop ringing the “courses aren’t long enough” alarm every time someone like Rory lays waste to a 650+ yard Par 5 and instead just sit back and enjoy the show.
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