Golf

Bay Hill’s famous hazard gets revenge — pro makes 12 in painful fashion

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Jake Knapp’s trouble was just getting started when he hit his 2nd tee shot.
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Whenever you’re hitting your SEVENTH shot from the tee box, it’s clear something has gone seriously wrong. But if there’s an individual hole on the PGA Tour that can make that happen — a specific tee box where players could find this fate — it’s the 6th tee at Bay Hill during the Arnold Palmer Invitational. 
Best evidenced by Bryson DeChambeau in 2021, the longest players on Tour can earn an incredible advantage on the 6th by carrying a tee shot 300-plus yards in the air, all the way over the lake that the 551-yard par-5 winds around. The longer the tee shots fly, the more pros can cut the corner, the more of an advantage they can get…so long as they clear the hazard. 
Best evidenced by John Daly in 1998, even the longest players can implode by this singular pursuit. It was Daly who kept launching tee shots on the same line, hopeful one would cross the lake, over and over, Tin Cup style. Six water-balls later, Daly made an 18. 
All of this brings us to Jake Knapp, recent winner of the Mexico Open and currently the 7th-longest player on Tour this season, averaging 310 yards off the tee. On Friday, Knapp made the 6th hole look tiny, crushing a 344-yard drive, smoothing a mid-iron in to 7 feet and making the eagle putt. Simple stuff. But Saturday’s conditions at Bay Hill were much windier. It wouldn’t be quite the same. But even in those conditions, Knapp was playing solidly, even par through five holes.
Knapp took a similar line Saturday, hoping to cut the corner once again, but his first tee ball traveled 300 yards when it needed to go about 302. His ball splashed a yard or two short of land, which just meant he would have to re-tee, getting no boost in yardage as he takes a penalty. From the same spot, he launched another drive, and while this one traveled those two extra yards, it now flew a few yards left. He knew it instantly, bailing on his swing pose, dropping his right hand off the club, staring long enough to watch a second straight splash, and just as excruciatingly short of the land. 
That’s where things get a bit confusing. For his next trick, Knapp avoided the water by missing so far right of it that, according to the PGA Tour’s Shotlink, he ended up out of bounds and forced to take another penalty stroke before putting the driver away and playing less club off the tee for his seventh stroke. At this point, Knapp hadn’t just surrendered his advantage, but he missed far enough right that he would be grinding to make a 10. 
From the right rough, Knapp hacked his way back into the fairway, then left his approach shot about 60 yards short of the hole, pitched on and two-putted for a 12. A comfy dozen strokes added to his scorecard, the last of which was a bit of a grindy 4-footer to finally see his ball into the cup. Unsurprisingly, the entire ordeal solidified Knapp’s place at the bottom of the leaderboard. 
All the while, Knapp’s playing partner Ludvig Aberg made the 6th look easy. He smoothed his tee ball 307 yards into the fairway, played a long iron up onto the edge of the green and casually two-putted for a birdie, eight strokes better than Knapp. 

Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just finished a book about the summer he spent in St. Andrews.
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