PGA Championship: 3 things you need to know about Valhalla Golf Club
Though the tournament no longer carries the moniker, the PGA Championship might represent "Glory's Last Shot" more than ever before.
Valhalla is last call for established tour veterans not named Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer, and Rory McIlroy to salvage their season, and the final opportunity for lesser-knowns - like Keegan Bradley in 2011 - to become household names.
On top of the invaluable prestige attached to a $1.8 million winner's share, the PGA Championship is also the last chance for Team USA hopefuls to improve on their Ryder Cup points standing.
But before Tom Watson learns of his automatic qualifiers and the Wanamaker Trophy is raised in Louisville, Ky., for the third time, the course must be studied.
Here are three things you need to know about Valhalla Golf Club.
1. A (PGA) Design by Jack Nicklaus
The 96th PGA Championship is a true PGA event. It will be played on the PGA of America's first owned championship site, which was designed by the tour's greatest champion and five-time PGA winner, Jack Nicklaus.
The 7,458-yard course staged Mark Brooks' 1996 win before Tiger Woods set the tournament scoring record at Valhalla at 18-under in 2000.
It has also hosted Senior PGA Championships, and was the site of the United States' last Ryder Cup win in 2008.
2. A Tale of Two 9s
On a course spanning 438 acres, there's bound to be subtle differences in vegetation, but golfers may appear like they're playing on entirely different tracks when CBS jumps from one nine to the next.
The front is played through a wide-open, low-lying meadow, while the back features significant changes in elevation along a dense tree line. The hills around the turn provide plenty of natural theatres, which build to 18 where upwards of 20,000 spectators will witness the championship putt sunk.
One aspect that should be uniform, however, are the greens, which have each been rebuilt in a championship upgrade pioneered by Nicklaus himself.
3. Unfriendly 4s
Challenging par-4s are the focal point of many Nicklaus-designed courses, and Valhalla, which offers three over 500 yards, is certainly no different.
As part of Nicklaus' renovations, the par-5 second hole Tiger Woods birdied three times en route to the 2000 title has been reduced (along with par to 71) to a daunting 530-yard par-4.
In addition, the shorter four-shot holes are well protected as evidenced by their signature 13th. It reads just 350 yards on the scorecard, but a fortress green makes it nearly impossible to take a run at off the tee.
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