The 14th Hole at Pebble Beach Is a Money Eating Machine

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2010

PEBBLE BEACH, CA - FEBRUARY 14:  Bryce Molder reacts after finishing the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links on February 14, 2010 in Pebble Beach, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Golfers were hemorrhaging money faster than Wall Street yesterday afternoon on the 14th hole at Pebble Beach.

In no more than 45 minutes, three golfers lost a combined $1.23 million (at the least) courtesy of Pebble Beach’s par-five 14th.

First came Alex Prugh.

In case you haven’t heard, Prugh has gotten off to the best start of any rookie in recent memory and was on pace for his fourth consecutive top-10 finish yesterday.

In fact, based on last year’s money list, a top-10 finish yesterday could have virtually secured Prugh’s 2011 PGA Tour card with six months still remaining in the 2010 season.

Prugh came to the par-five 14th within the top-10 on the leaderboard before coming up short and right with his approach shot.  Prugh then spent an agonizing seven minutes watching his golf ball roll up and down the steep, slick, undulating green several times before finally finding the bottom of the cup with his ninth stroke.

The 14th hole likely cost Alex Prugh somewhere in the vacinity of $185,000.

Next came Bryce Molder.

Molder was within the top-five when he approached the 14th.

Molder must have known he was in trouble as he watched his approach shot fly long and left of the green, but he probably didn’t know he was in the $160,167 kind of trouble.

Molder would also make a nine while the leader at the time, Paul Goydos, was standing in the fairway watching Molder’s nightmare unfold right before his eyes.

Tack on another $160,167 for the 14th.

Once Molder and playing partner J.B. Holmes finally cleared the 14th green, Goydos attempted to hit a low drawing seven iron into the back left pin location.

Unfortunately, Goydos’ ball came to rest in almost the exact same spot that had just cost Molder more than $100,000.

Goydos would also make a nine and potentially lost a whopping $889,700 (considering that he was in the lead by one at the time and played the final four holes in one-over par while eventual winner, Dustin Johnson, played the final four holes in even par).

Lehman Brothers couldn’t have even squandered away more money than Prugh, Goydos, and Molder did in less than 45 minutes on Sunday.

Out of the top-10 players on the final leaderboard, not a single player managed to score better than par on the par-five 14th, which is an oddity to say the least in this era of grip it and rip it golf.

What should be particularly disconcerting to those who participated in last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is that this money eating monster of a hole will play significantly more difficult when the tour returns to Pebble Beach in June for the 2010 US Open.

Forget the long par-three 17th where Jack Nicklaus secured the 1972 Open title with his pin-seeking one-iron and where Watson secured the 1982 Open title with his miraculous chip-in.

Forget the picturesque par-five 18th that has determined more than one champion over the years at the Pebble Beach.

The par-five 14th could very well determine the winner of the 2010 US Open championship.

The 14th green has become so slick and undulating over the years that if you happen to miss your landing point by more than two yards with your approach shot, you could very well be looking at a seven, eight, nine, or worse on the hole.

If Shoeless Joe Jackson’s glove was the place where triples went to die, the 14th at Pebble Beach could very well be the place where US Open dreams go to die this June.

If you are one of those who attend NASCAR events just to see the car wrecks, here’s a bit of advice, plop yourself down next to the 14th green at Pebble Beach on June 20—what you will see is bound to be right up your alley.

The 14th stole more than $1.2 million away from three players yesterday afternoon, and it could very well snatch up a US Open title or two come June.


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