SAPAKOFF COLUMN: Epic PGA Championship clash: Tiger Woods vs. Pete Dye at the Ocean Course
Tiger vs. Pete Dye at the Ocean Course
KIAWAH ISLAND — Star player vs. design star in an oyster shell: Tiger Woods grappling with Pete Dye's postcard No. 12 hole at the Ocean Course, a rolling 412-yard par 4 tensely tucked along the Atlantic.
Go for the green?
Or play safe?
“If you get the right conditions,” Woods said Tuesday during a PGA Championship news conference, “I could see guys doing it. Whatever, the right conditions are for them, whether they like to fade it, draw, whatever the right conditions are, I could see guys going for it.”
Add unpredictable winds and Woods vs. Dye is the best of all the game-within-the-game stories this week.
Woods, 36, has won 14 majors.
Dye, 86, fought through Hurricane Hugo damage in 1989 to showcase his spectacular Ocean Course with the 1991 Ryder Cup.
“For me, I think it's going to be having the right conditions and where the pin is and whether I go or not,” Woods went on about No. 12. “You can make 3 or 2 by going, but you also bring in a high number by going, as well. If you lay up, it's going to be like a 6-iron and a sand wedge and you limit all the high numbers. As I said, I think at the time it'll be just a feel thing.”
And probably a different “feel” each round.
That's just one hole of sand, ocean spray and soft landings.
Or maybe not so soft. Depends.
“Of anything that's close, (it) would be Whistling Straits,” Woods said of the gauntlet in Wisconsin, “same architect being Pete.”
Whistling Straits, Woods said, is “played totally differently.”
Ah, but similarly deceptive.
“One of the things you learn about Pete's golf courses, a lot of it is visual,” Woods said. “There's a lot more room out there, whether it's on the fairways or on the greens, than you think. He just makes you look the other way. And he's a masterful designer in that way.”
Man vs. man-made beast.
Woods has been trying to figure this thing out all year, publicly dropping Ocean Course references since spring. He was here last week and the first guy on the driving range at sunrise Monday.
“(Dye) always likes to present a lot of the targets at angles,” Woods said. And yet, “the golf courses that he designs are not very long if you're able to be aggressive off the tees.”
40 more majors
Frustrating? Stressful? Sure, yes. But Woods zapped any notion that he dislikes Dye concepts.
“I do like Pete's courses,” he said. “He makes you think, which I like, instead of just going out there and hitting a golf ball. He makes you make a decision off the tees. He makes you make a decision into the greens and makes you leave the ball in the correct spot.”
Quite the obstacle for a fellow four majors behind Jack Nicklaus' record haul of 18.
“I figure it's going to take a career. It's going to take a long time,” Woods said. “Jack didn't finish until he was 46, so if you go by that timetable, I've got 10 more years.”
I'll handle the math: 40 more majors for a healthy Tiger.
Some, however, vs. Pete Dye's plan-ruining architecture.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or on Twitter @sapakoff