Neither Ernie Els, William McGirt, nor Davis Love III would ever dream of not being environmentally friendly; but all three were positively cheery on Thursday when told the news about the dead tree.
The massive live oak that has served as an unspoken barrier for those aiming too high on the 393-yard, par-4 No. 6 at the TPC Sawgrass was removed this week after an eight-foot crack in the trunk – a sign of old age – left groundskeepers deeming the mighty tree unsafe.
“It’s about time, maybe now we can hit a normal golf shot off the tee instead of a low-rising, fading hook,” said McGirt.
The tree is thought to be between 80 and 120 years old. Els has had a rough history with it, including two years ago when he blasted his tee shot into the massive overhanging branch, forcing him to take a drop that led to a double bogey.
Els wanted the tree removed after the incident. Love has apparently asked PGA Tour Commissioner David Finchem to remove it every year before THE PLAYERS Championship, to no avail.
“You play with a high ball hitter and wonder how he’s going to get under it,” Love said on Thursday. “It was borderline whether it was fair for guys who launch it high. You don’t want someone hitting a trick shot off the tee.”