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The PGA Championship: Key holes at Southern Hills

Original article published 17 October 2022

Successful golfers at the PGA Championship will have to dig out all their skills to tame the test they face at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma this week.

Every aspect of their game is set to be examined on a course where both greens and fairways undulate and sharp run-offs around the putting surfaces can lead to all sorts of trouble.

So here are four holes that could have a huge bearing on who succeeds Phil Mickelson as the winner of 2022's second Major of the year.

Hole 8, par 3, 251 yards

There is scope on some of the holes at Southern Hills for the tee positions to be moved, but organisers may not take pity on the players as they present a hefty par three on the eighth that could play to a whopping 251 yards.

The tee shot is also likely to be into the guts of the prevailing wind, so it would be a big surprise if there were a host of birdies on the second short hole of the round.

Ending up short would not be a disaster if your wedge play is in good order, but the last place you would want to go is long and left because a big slope would take your ball off towards a creek.

Any of the 156 players would be quite content to card a par three and then move on.

Hole 12, par 4, 456 yards

Players will probably get a headache at the 12th as there is so much to consider.

Firstly, a blind tee shot will have to be played with golfers remaining mindful that the fairway slopes from right to left.

However, it doesn't get easier from there, because the approach shot has to be precise as there is water to carry and a series of bunkers to avoid.

Even the putting surface will not provide much relief as it is banked so a player's flatstick skills are set to be tested too.

Every facet of the game looks set to be severely examined within the space of about 15 minutes.

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Hole 17, par 4, 371 yards

The penultimate hole is listed as 371 yards long on the card, but there seems a decent chance that it will be moved forward at some juncture to give players the opportunity to drive the green.

It may not prove as simple as that because, like many of the holes on this track, it is a dogleg.

It bends to the right, but if you drive too far in that direction then all sorts of problems can be provided by the trees as well as a possible liaison with a creek.

But that should only heighten the excitement and there should be plenty of that on offer at the 17th come Sunday afternoon.

Hole 18, par 4, 491 yards

The closing hole at Southern Hills really couldn't really be more difficult.

It is a long par four which plays uphill and it is almost essential that players find the plateau on the left side of the fairway to have the best approach into the green.

That will still be an uphill shot and there is a huge difficulty once hopefuls are on the putting surface, as it slopes wickedly from back to front.

The chances of a three-putt are massive, which could crank up the drama on Sunday.

The course has hosted seven Major tournaments and the winner has managed to claim a par on the 72nd hole just twice, the last being Tiger Woods at the 2007 event.

Don't go to bed early on Sunday as there is a strong chance of drama right to the end.

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