The 18th hole on the Olympic Course at Gold Mountain is a driveable par 4 that is an ideal finish for a match-play competition. Playing at just 305 yards for match play, the hole offers players plenty of options. Do you try to drive the green and risk putting the ball in the water hazard (right of the green) or one of the bunkers or do you lay up with an iron and play conservatively?
Medalist Beau Hossler, who held a 1-up lead going into 18 against Austin Smotherman, took the prudent approach and hit a 4-iron off the tee. Smotherman, who was hoping to force extra holes, tried to drive it.
"He almost made eagle," said Hossler, who knocked his wedge approach to 6 feet and holed the birdie putt for a 1-up second-round victory Thursday morning. "That’s a great match-play hole. It’s not even a par 5. There are just so many options, and this hole is just so much better when they move the tee up like they did [on Wednesday and Thursday]. I bet if it was 324 [yards like it was during stroke play] he wouldn’t go for it because he’d have to kill one to get over the front bunker."
Earlier this week, 2009 champion Jordan Spieth said the Olympic Course was ideal for match play because of all the risk-reward holes. You have reachable par-5s and a couple of short par-4s. And the par-3s offer plenty of variety. -- David Shefter