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Pebble Beach makes 8th hole safer after Spieth’s daring shot

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Jordan Spieth’s daring second shot over a cliff at the par-4 8th hole in last year’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am will be harder to replicate this year thanks to an adjustment by the resort in part due to guests attempting to recreate Spieth’s shot while playing the course.

Gary Young, the PGA Tour’s chief referee for this week, told ESPN that he met with Pebble Beach representatives Tuesday night who expressed that, during resort play, they had been forced to move the red hazard line back and ensure the rough was thick enough to stop balls from running out to where Spieth’s tee ball landed last year, as guests had tried to emulate the shot.

“We painted the line where we traditionally have it,” Young said of the setup for this week. “I know that as a club, they make a concerted effort to try to move that line further away. Resort play, that’s been their concern and they just want to make sure that they’re doing everything that they can to discourage people from attempting that shot.”

Last year, Spieth famously decided to go for the shot against the wishes of his caddie Michael Greller — who advised taking a penalty shot. The two-time major winner proceeded to take a dangerous off-balance swing that forced him to step back from the bluff as he hit the ball. The shot worked out – Spieth saved par on the hole – but regretted the decision afterward. On Wednesday, he was asked about the shot again.

“I think I saved a stroke,” Spieth said. “Does the reward outweigh the risk? Not if you think the risk was dying. But I also, I felt I could whack it over the water with a 7-iron and get it up near the green. And I thought up near the green would be easier than hitting a 7-iron from 10 yards back. And, yeah, I think now knowing my son a lot better, he was really young at the time, I may not have hit that shot.”

Spieth said this week that he noticed the grass had “grown up by the edge” but doesn’t believe that solves the larger issue.

“It stops the balls that may have gone through before,” Spieth said. “So there’s no win here. I think I really messed things up by hitting that because I don’t really know the solution. Other than shave it all the way so that, no matter what, it goes right in and it has less of a chance of stopping short. I don’t really know. Because you can’t put a fence there because your second shot will hit the fence.”

Young said the resort normally does have a sign that encourages guests to avoid getting close to the edge for any reason, but while the 8th won’t have any signage dissuading players from taking the shot this week and the hazard line will remain in its normal position, the rough should do its job, according to Young.

“The rough is a uniform two inches, but it’s a very thick rough,” Young said. “They fertilize the rough in that area pretty heavily. They do everything again, to promote a good thick bit of rough that’s gonna prevent a golf ball from chasing along the ground through the fairway into that area.”

And as Young pointed out, most people — be it amateurs in this year’s tournament or resort guests — won’t hit it as far as Spieth does anyway.

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