Ryder Cup 2016: What to expect at Hazeltine


A picturesque Minnesota backdrop will provide the setting when the lengthy, hazardous Hazeltine National Golf Club hosts the 41st Ryder Cup this weekend.

The United States are aiming to end the stranglehold of visitors Europe, who have won six of the past seven editions of golf's greatest team event.

But the narrow fairways, short greens, plentiful bunkers and treacherous water hazards have made a mockery even of the best in the past - just ask one of Davis Love III's US vice-captains, Tiger Woods.

In 2002, Woods lost out by one stroke to Rich Beem at the US PGA Championship and seven years later let a three-shot lead on the final day slip as Yang Yong-eun clinched victory.

Here, we assess what challenges await the Red and Blue teams at the par-72 course ahead of what is sure to be another dramatic contest.



Those players in the two camps that have graced Hazeltine before will notice some re-routing work this week. To accommodate the large crowds following short groups, players will go through the first four holes before switching to the 14th. From there, it is a five-hole stretch ending at the 18th. Holes 10 to 13 follow, before the final stretch comes between what are traditionally the fifth and ninth holes.



The most iconic hole on the course is the (not-so) sweet 16th hole, which will act as the seventh during the Ryder Cup. It is a hole to make even the best golfers approach with trepidation. The tee itself is on a raised peninsula, with tee shots having to carry over 220 yards to avoid plunging into the Hazeltine lake. If you go too far left then a creek off the fairway awaits, but troublesome rough to the right also poses a challenge. Two-time major winner Johnny Miller summed it up well when he described the hole as "probably the hardest par four I ever played".



The likes of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy will be licking their lips with anticipation at tackling Hazeltine. The course is, theoretically, suited to the big hitters. Measuring over 7,600 yards, it is inadvisable to leave the driver out of the bag. Of the quartet of par fours, three are over 600 yards in length. Bunkers aplenty and narrowing approach areas only heighten the difficulty posed by the par fives. 



By the end of 2016, Hazeltine will be able to boast of being just one of two courses to have hosted every premier championship of the USGA and PGA of America. The Robert Trent Jones-designed course was the venue for the 1970 U.S. Open, but received plenty of criticism - including from the great Jack Nicklaus - when almost half the field struggled to break 80. Subsequent redesigns by Jones and son Rees levelled the playing field, and Hazeltine hosted the 2002 and 2009 US PGA Championship.