Bear Trap wounds: Inside the numbers on PGA National's toughest stretch

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It’s annually one of the toughest stretches on the PGA Tour outside the majors, and this week it’s back in the headlines.

The PGA Tour returns to Florida with the Honda Classic, and the famed “Bear Trap” will take center stage at PGA National. Comprising the 179-yard 15th, 434-yard 16th and 175-yard 17th holes, it’s a disaster-laden trio where water lurks around every shot. As Jack Nicklaus described on a plaque that greets players walking off the 14th green, “It should be won or lost right here.”

And often that has been the case. Time and again players’ title aspirations have disappeared into the lakes that line the critical stretch, while Adam Scott famously won the Honda in 2016 despite making a quadruple bogey on the 15th hole during the third round.

Here’s a look at some of the notable Bear Trap stats according to the PGA Tour (all figures since 2007, when the tournament moved to PGA National):

• Among non-majors, the Bear Trap ranks as the third-toughest three-hole stretch on Tour at 0.644 over par on average. It’s behind only Nos. 16-18 at Quail Hollow (+0.873) and Nos. 8-10 at Pebble Beach (+0.673).

• The Honda Classic field is a combined 3,629 over par across the Bear Trap and 4,934 over par across the other 15 holes at PGA National.

• 543 different players have played at least one competitive round at the Honda since 2007, with 76 percent (415) of them hitting at least one ball in the water on the Bear Trap.

• 2013 Honda Classic winner Michael Thompson has played the most rounds (28) without hitting a single ball in the water on the Bear Trap, followed by Jim Furyk (14) and Bud Cauley (13).


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• 54 players have managed to play Nos. 15-17 bogey-free for an entire week at the Honda, with two players doing it on three separate occasions: Keegan Bradley and Graeme McDowell.

• Ryan Palmer has hit the most balls into the water along the Bear Trap with 16, three more than Jimmy Walker (13), who is next on the list. Palmer’s 39-over cumulative score is six shots worse than any other player (Adam Scott is next at 33 over).

• The best cumulative score along the Bear Trap since 2007 belongs to Russell Knox and Adam Hadwin, who have both played Nos. 15-17 in 6 under par. Only 6.4 percent (35 out of 543) of players are under par across the Bear Trap during their Honda playing careers.

• Gavin Coles is the only player to put four balls in the water during a single playing of a Bear Trap hole, making an octuple-bogey 11 on No. 15 during the third round in 2007. 

• There have been 666 balls in the water on No. 15 since 2007 and 455 on No. 17.

• There have been two aces on the Bear Trap during the Honda: Scott Stallings made a hole-in-one on No. 15 during the opening round in 2017, while Jhonattan Vegas matched him on the same hole during the 2017 final round.