Some teeth may be lacking this week in the 94th PGA Championship at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, S.C., but it will be anything but a pushover. Even with recent rain and more expected during the week, the challenging but soft Pete Dye layout figures to give players all they can handle.
"The fairways are perfect, greens are perfect, it's just going to be a touch on the long side because the ball is not rolling out," Tiger Woods said Tuesday.
Dye has a way of messing with players' minds, using mounds, optical illusions and wind to test their patience and imagination.
"There's a lot more room out there, whether it's on the fairways or the greens, than you think," Woods said. "He just makes you look the other way, and he's a masterful designer in that way. I do like Pete's courses. They make you think."
The links-style Ocean Course, located on the eastern end of Kiawah Island, was designed by Dye in 1991. Ten holes border the Atlantic Ocean, and the other eight parallel them. There are six sets of tees on every hole, and the layout will measure 7,676 yards, making it the longest in major championship history. Par is 72.
Wind is a huge factor. Crosswinds can play havoc with club selection and are known to change daily. For instance, when the 1991 Ryder Cup was held at Kiawah, players used everything from 8-irons to 3-woods on the water-fronted 223-yard, par-3 17th hole.
The 156-player field includes 32 major winners who have accumulated 58 major titles. Following the second round, the field will be cut to the low 70 and ties. In the event of a tie after 72 holes, a three-hole, aggregate-stroke playoff will be contested on holes 16, 17 and 18.
Aside from the 1991 Ryder Cup, which the U.S. won in dramatic fashion against Europe, other prominent events held at Kiawah include the 2007 PGA Senior PGA Championship, the 2005 PGA Professional National Championship, the 2003 World Cup and 1997 World Cup of Golf.
Woods begins first-round play Thursday at 8:30 a.m. ET on the first tee with defending champion Keegan Bradley, winner of last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and 2010 champion Martin Kaymer of Germany. They will play together in Friday's second round starting at 1:40 p.m. on the 10th tee.
The week-long weather forecast calls for mostly cloudy conditions and a 60-percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Temperatures should be in the mid-80s, and gusting winds of 20 mph are expected.
"The grass being paspalum, we're not going to get a lot of mud balls," Woods said. "The grass just doesn't stick that way."
Woods will be gunning for his 15th major title. Admittedly frustrated that he hasn't added to his total in four years, Tiger feels ready for a major breakthrough.
"Things have progressed, but still not winning a major championship doesn't feel very good," he said.
The U.S. Ryder Cup team will be announced next week, but Woods is the lone player on the American squad who has mathematically clinched a spot. It marks his seventh selection to the team.