But, upon further review of the firing range in the three-day golf
tournament last month, hole No. 5 at Newport Beach crept back into the
limelight as the Toshiba Classic's toughest hole for 2001.
As expected, the front-nine stretch from No. 5 through No. 9 was the
most different for the seniors, with four of the five hardest holes.
Only the course's signature hole No. 17, a long par-3 over water and
onto a well-undulated, two-tiered green, was the only hole on the golf
course ranked in the top five this year that was not in the unfriendly
confines of the front nine's last five holes. No. 17 ranked third.
Swirling winds from the threat of a storm, along with prevailing winds
off the ocean, helped elevate hole No. 5 back to the top in '01. It
yielded only nine birdies, the fewest on any single hole in tournament
history covering 54 holes.
In 1996 and '97, No. 5 stood alone as the most difficult to play for
the seniors. In 1998, it fell to fourth, when the hole was shortened 25
yards. In 1999 and 2000, it ranked as the second-toughest hole, behind
No. 17 and No. 6, respectively.
But, this year, the 430-yard par-4 played as the hardest. It plays
uphill and upwind and requires a well-placed mid- to long-iron shot to an
uncharitable green bordered by two bunkers.
In addition to the hole's stunning number of birdies allowed (an
average of only three per round), No. 5 induced 80 bogeys, by far the
most in the tournament. Hole No. 9 is second on the list of bogeys caused
The collective field's scoring average on No. 5 (.322 over par) is the
largest of the 18 holes.
It always amazes me when I think back five years ago, the first year
the event was played at Newport Beach, and see Jim Colbert lapping the
field with birdies in all three rounds on No. 5 to win the 1996 Toshiba
Hole No. 6, which ranked as the second-most difficult on the course
this year, was dropped from its one-year reign atop the Toshiba
While No. 6 has always played tough, you could make an argument that
its No. 1 ranking in 2000 was a fluke, because it was a rain-shortened,