Friday, December 17, 2010

2011 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship Holes 13-18 with Rory McIlroy, Martin, Mazo and more!

Abu Dhabi Golf Course

 Q: How do you make one of the best tournaments on the European Tour schedule even better?

A: Lengthen the course, toughen up the bunkering and bring in one of most innovative sponsors in golf.
Tim Maitland sat down with some of the world’s top players to work out how to plot your way to success at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

A great event is just about to get better. The Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and the Abu Dhabi Golf Club have produced some great championships and some great champions: Martin Kaymer and Paul Casey, who seem to have taken out a time-share on the trophy, would feature on anyone’s list of Europe’s elite golfers.

In part three of this series, Tim Maitland asked a group of European Tour golfers including Roger Morgan, Gregory Bourdy and Rory McIlroy how best to navigate holes 13-18 of the Abu Dhabi Golf Course.

Abu Dhabi Golf Course

Hole 13 Par 4 414 yards 378 metres

Roger Morgan (New Zealand)
Caddied for Sandy Lyle MBE in the 1990s, including the last big win of a great career at the Volvo Masters in 1992. More recently worked for Pelle Edberg and several other Swedes. Last season was spent with Fredrik Andersson Hed.  

It is a short par four. If you hit driver you have got to hit it over the right edge of the bunkers on the left, but they’ve added another bunker in the landing area this year to make that shot more complicated. 

You have to make sure you don’t pull it because the rough on this course can be quite severe. If you happen to push it you’re bringing the trees and more rough into play on the right-hand side.

If you hit a good drive you can go in there with a nine iron or eight iron, even a wedge sometimes, depending on the wind. 

It’s a difficult green. You have to be on the right level if you’re going to make birdies.

When the pin is on the right, it’s a very difficult green to hold – especially coming out of the rough – so you have to make sure you get on the fairway. You have to be quite specific with your judgement there. If you spin the ball too much you can leave yourself with a very difficult putt. It looks very large, the right portion of the putting surface, but your judgement has to be spot on because if you go long you leave yourself a downhill chip and short of it, you’re going to be in the trap. 

It’s quite an innocuous looking hole, but it can bite you!

The mistake you don’t want to make: Going right off the tee. There’s a footpath on the right side and if you get there, if you’re not in the thick grass, you can be in the sand and you’ve got trees to negotiate.

Hole 14 Par 4 490 yards 448 metres


Mark Mazo (USA)
Caddied for Rhys Davies’ 2010 win in Morocco. Formerly with Garrett Willis on the PGA Tour.

It’s a pretty big hole and they’ve made it even bigger this year. When we had it, it was playing straight down wind. Even first out on a Friday morning we were still hitting a three wood. Later in the day, we were hitting soft three woods.

You play the three wood, despite the holes length, simply because the tee shot plays short and the bunker (at the corner of the dogleg) comes up pretty quickly. Ideally you get it down to the right half of the fairway, just short of the right fairway bunker, and that’ll leave a mid-iron in; a five or six iron. The fairway bunker on the left extends further into the fairway now, which is interesting.

It’s a pretty accommodating green. You do have to be a bit careful to some of the pin placements – especially the one short left, because it’s very, very easy to miss the green short-left chasing that particular pin. It’s not the easiest up and down. There’s enough severity on the slopes where, if you are short-sided, it’s very difficult to get up and down.

Although the green is seemingly quite big, it’s actually quite shallow, it’s just broad. If you can get the ball to pitch in the middle of the green you’re never going to be too far away. The pins on the right side are bad to chase. The one straight at the back is probably the easiest one to get to; where you can play to the middle and it releases, great, and if it doesn’t you’ll always have 25 feet.   

The mistake you don’t want to make: Getting too aggressive on the tee when it’s playing down wind. The fairway on the right comes up pretty quick because it plays down wind and the whole fairway runs away from left to right. You don’t need too be aggressive, because it’s just a high-draw seven iron, which at that point becomes a scoring club.

Hole 15 Par 3 177 yards 162 metres

Pablo Martin (Spain)
Winner of the 2009 Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek in South Africa. Became the first amateur to win a European Tour event when he captured the 2007 Estoril Open de Portugal.

Hola! Fifteen is a great little par three and it’s a great birdie chance. You’ll be really disappointed if you don’t get a birdie on this hole. Together with 18, out of the last four holes these are the clear birdie opportunities if the wind is not blowing. 

You can go right at every flag, because you’ve got some tough holes coming up; 16 and 17 are really tough and 18 is a great risk-reward hole. 

You’re probably hitting between a nine iron and a six iron, depending on the wind and how the flag is positioned. It’s a calculated risk, but it’s a clear option for a birdie. It’s a par three and every par three you’re happy with par, but this one you’re looking more for a birdie than a bogey.

It’s a tricky green. You definitely need to hit it close from the tee, because you can get some funny putts with a lot of break in them.

The mistake you don’t want to make: Short-siding yourself. If the flag is long and you’re over, then you’ve got a really tough up and down. Anything long on that green is not good.

Hole 16 Par 4 475 yards 434 metres

Gregory Bourdy (France)
Winner of the 2009 UBS Hong Kong Open, the 2008 Estoril Open de Portugal and the 2007 Mallorca Classic.

This one and the two holes after, they are very exciting! It’s a very good finish.  16 is a tough hole. We need to use driver or three wood; for me it’s a driver because it’s a long hole.  We need to drive between the two bunkers, one on the right and one on the left. Then we still have a long shot to reach the green! Depends on the wind, but it something like a five iron. 

You’ll see guys in among the trees. It’s not really tight – the fairway is quite large actually – but we like to cut the corner a little bit to get a shorter second shot. Sometimes we get too greedy and out the ball in the trees, the bunker or the rough. 

It’s important not to be too far from the hole. It’s quite a huge green with some hills, not big, but you can still have a difficult putt, so it’s better to stay close to the pin. 

The mistake you don’t want to make: If you miss with your driver it’s a very tough hole. The mistake is to be in the trees, the bunker or the rough.

Hole 17 Par 4 483 yards 441 metres

Rory_McIlroyRory McIlroy (Northern Ireland)
Won the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship three days short of his 21st birthday to become youngest PGA Tour winner since Tiger Woods in 1996. Winner of the 2009 Dubai Desert Classic. Member of Europe’s 2010 Ryder Cup-winning team.

It’s a pretty long par four, over 480 yards, and it usually plays into the wind. You’re usually trying to hit it just to the right of the fairway bunkers, maybe hitting it 280 up there because it’s usually into the wind. You’re leaving yourself something like a mid- to long-iron into the green. Last year I was probably hitting six and seven irons in there and it’s a pretty flat green.

The toughest pin position is the one on the front right, which is guarded by the front-right bunker. 

When the wind drops you can get it up there and leave yourself with a short iron and then if the pin is anywhere on the left side of the green it is quite a good birdie chance.

Otherwise it’s a tough hole: 16 and 17 are holes where you’re just trying to make par and hope to pick one up at the last. 

The mistake you don’t want to make: I remember last year I birdied it on the last day to give myself a chance, so I have fond memories of this hole. Making birdie to be just one behind made a big difference. It was big for me, definitely! It’s definitely a deciding factor in who is going to win this tournament.

Hole 18 Par 5 557 yards 509 metres

Matteo Manassero (Italy)
Won the 2010 Castello Masters near Valencia, Spain at 17 years and 188 days to become the youngest winner in the history of the European Tour. Also broke the legendary Seve Ballesteros' record as the youngest-ever full European Tour member.
Ciao! Bongiorno! This is a very good par five, because if you’re long you have to hit the first straight and well. If you’re not that long, the lay-up is not that easy and the second shot gets complicated.

For the long hitters the eighteenth can be a reachable hole. The first shot can be very tricky because you’ve got water and wasteland on the right and usually you’ve got thick rough on the left and a bunker.

I’m not one of the big hitters so my line is always just to the right-hand side of the bunker; on that line I’m never going to run out into the bunker or rough. That gives me 230 or 240 metres to the green. That’s not reachable for me. So the lay-up, the big bunker on the right is the direction for the lay-up. 

We’ll aim at the centre/right-side of that trap with either a rescue or a four iron to keep between 70 and 55 metres and leave that big right-hand bunker out of play.

Then we’ve got a third shot which can change a lot because the green is 50 meters long. Usually there are two flags on the front and two flags on the back, which makes a lot of difference; it can be a wedge or a little 58 [degree wedge]. It’s difficult to get the distance right. It’s a very good hole, a very good hole.

The mistake you don’t want to make: Not so much mistake, but this hole is different for the long hitters. I remember Alvaro [Quiros], the superstar, last year being over 280 metres off the tee, finishing just before the water. The water and the bunker comes much more into play for the long hitters. It’s a more tricky first short, but then they have a second shot to quite a wide green. That makes the hole easy for them, but they have to be very precise with the first shot. 

Abu Dhabi Golf Club - 18th Hole

Thanks again to Tim Maitland for his interview of European Tour Golfers for the 2011 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship!

photo credits: Getty Images/Tim Maitland

How to negotiate holes 1-12 of the Abu Dhabi Golf Club can be seen on the Golf for Beginners blog:
2011 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship Holes 1-6
2011 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship Holes 7-12

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1 comment:

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