Conquering Bulle Rock


A look at how defending champion Annika Sorenstam played Bulle Rock last year - and how she might play it this year - through the yardage book of longtime caddie Terry McNamara. McNamara recently walked the course to see how the changes might affect Sorenstam's approach this week and offered his observations in an interview with The Sun's Don Markus.

1ST -- 358 yards Par 4 -- Sorenstam used driver every day last year and either sand wedge or pitching wedge for her approach. Her longest second shot was from 119 yards. "You drive it right-center, everything kicks right to left. It's just a good hole to get off to a good start."

2ND -- 555 yards Par 5 -- Sorenstam couldn't reach the green in two shots last year because the ground was wet, but the hole plays downhill, and if the ball runs a little this year, she could possibly get it close to the green in two. "This green is small and you do not want to be above this hole. You're setting yourself up for a hard par make or a bogey."

3RD -- 160 yards Par 3 -- It's slightly downhill and everything plays from the back right side of the green to the front left side, so Sorenstam is going to want to hit it left of the flag. Sorenstam used either a 7-, 8- or 9-iron last year depending on the length and the direction of the wind.

4TH -- 380 yards Par 4 -- Sorenstam used driver or 4-wood off the tee. With a wide fairway and a slight downhill second shot, Sorenstam hit everything from 7-iron to pitching wedge. A fairway bunker could come into play on the left side, but it shouldn't impede her. The fairway kicks left to right.

5TH -- 389 yards Par 4 -- It's 29 yards longer than last year, and it's uphill. Sorenstam hit driver over a right fairway bunker and either 8- or 9-iron or pitching wedge for the second shot, but this year she won't be able to carry the bunker, so she might be hitting 4-wood with a 6- or 7-iron for her second shot.

6TH -- 387 yards Par 4 -- With a downhill tee shot into a very narrow fairway, Sorenstam hit 4-wood and hit 9-iron or pitching wedge into a green, where she wants to keep the ball right and short of the pin. "It doesn't sound too difficult, but for some reason it's just the illusion of the hole."

7TH -- 170 yards Par 3 -- This hole also has been lengthened, anywhere from 10 to 20 yards depending on the pin location. The green goes left to right, with a bunch of little mounds. "It looks like they buried Volkswagens with the tops sticking up."

8TH -- 481 yards Par 5 -- A reachable uphill 5 that Sorenstam struggled with last year, making only one birdie. After hitting driver off the tee, Sorenstam usually had 185 to 205 yards to the hole, using everything from a 5-iron to a 7-wood. "'If you miss this green to the right, it's death."

9TH -- 413 yards Par 4 -- Close to 50 yards longer, Sorenstam used driver to hit over a fairway bunker located at the elbow of the dogleg right. She could reach the green from the right side of the bunker last year, but this year it's going to be tougher. Could have the most humps of any green at Bulle Rock.

10TH -- 373 yards Par 4 -- Sorenstam hit driver last year and will likely hit either driver or 4-wood this time, and will try to keep the ball under the hole, especially if the pin is in the back. Last year, Sorenstam's second shot played as long as 157 yards (she used 7-iron), but otherwise used some sort of wedge.

11TH -- 596 yards Par 4 -- Sorenstam hit driver three times and 4-wood once last year, then used a 4-wood to lay up as well on second shot, a 9-iron on the third. Even Michelle Wie will have trouble getting on in two this year. "The length of this hole makes it very difficult."

12TH -- 168 yards Par 3 -- There's a lake on the right, and depending on the pin placement, this can be a tricky little hole. There's less room on the left side of the green than on the right, and the rough behind the green is a bogey magnet.

13TH -- 415 yards Par 4 -- Sorenstam hits driver here on this slightly uphill hole, and everything from 5-iron to sand wedge into the green. The green has a narrow opening and runs downhill to the back left. "This is probably the hardest green on the golf course as far as controlling the ball."

14TH -- 372 yards Par 4 -- This hole plays downhill to a small green that runs away from back to front. Usually a driver and wedge for Sorenstam, who wants to stay right of the pin on the second shot. It's easy for approach shots to roll through the green.

15TH -- 493 yards Par 5 -- It's not the tee ball that's trouble, it's the second shot. A year ago, Sorenstam had everything from 168 yards to 195 to the front of the green. There are railroad ties guarding the front of the elevated green, and Sorenstam hit them one day. "This hole is a pain."

16TH -- 330 yards Par 4 -- A short downhill hole that is almost reachable off the tee if the wind is at the player's back. Sorenstam hit either 7-wood or 4-wood a year ago, and laid up with a 4-iron with a big lead the last day. The green runs away to the right with a hump on the left.

17TH -- 171 Par 3 -- Sorenstam hit 7-iron every day last year off the tee to a green that has a small landing area in the front and in the back. The hill runs from left to right going down the fairway and then plays uphill to the hole.

18TH -- 385 yards Par 4 -- Everything kicks right to left off the tee. Sorenstam will try to aim her driver to the right-center of the fairway or even on the left edge of the bunker. There's a bunker on the right side, but even more troublesome is the rough to the right of the fairway. "It's a good finishing hole, a great driving hole."

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad