PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA | Hal Sutton only wanted one thing.
“Be the right club, today,” Sutton said, watching his 6-iron approach shot cut through the north Florida sky on a Monday morning 19 years ago.
For two days, Sutton and Tiger Woods had chased the Players Championship title, Sunday afternoon turning into Monday morning and it had all come down to the par-4 18th, the menacing finishing hole that lands like the second punch in a rib-jarring combination that starts at the famous par-3 17th.
Sutton led by one and Woods had missed the 18th green to the right. One swing and Sutton could win his second Players title, 17 years after his first.
“I had 179 to the flag and it was a perfect 6-iron for me, not too hard, not too easy,” Sutton said this week. “When I hit it, I looked up and it was headed right at the flag.
“My first thought was just what I said. I didn’t want the wind or any outside force take anything away from that shot. I was just ready for it to be over.
“It was a moment of passion.”
The world watches the 17th hole with its island-like green, players and fans holding their breath with each shot that’s launched toward the green.
It’s the 18th hole – a 462-yard street fight – that is the final piece in the diabolical puzzle that Pete and Alice Dye dug out of the muck all those years ago. If playing the 17th hole is like opening a closed door in a scary movie, the 18th is what’s behind that door.
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