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Phil Mickelson: Longest hole in Open history could turn game's top players into road kill

By Steve Elling | Senior Golf Columnist

SAN FRANCISCO – It's the longest hole in U.S. Open history.

Which is a long way from being the best, as Phil Mickelson reminded everybody Tuesday.

Mickelson, attempting to win his first Open title after five runner-up finishes, could barely conceal his distaste for the brutal 16th, a 670-yard monster that also played uphill and into a facing breeze in Tuesday's practice round.

“I believe that you play 15 holes of really tough, tough golf, and you finally get to your first par 5 and it's the toughest hole on the course,” Mickelson said. “I think 16 will play more over par in stroke average than any hole on the course. That would be my prediction.”

He was just getting started.

"It's definitely the hardest -- arguably the worst," he said.

He might just be right. Mickelson's biggest beef was about the tactics of the hole. He said players are forced to lay up into the same spot when the tee is all the way back, as it's expected to be at least twice once play begins. He had 214 yards for his third shot in his practice round Tuesday.

“With the tee back, it eliminates any options,” he said.

So much for strategy, he added.

“I would never say it's an unfair hole,” he said. “I just don't think it's a good hole.”

Aaron Baddeley played alongside Bubba Watson on Tuesday and estimated the hole “plays more like 700 yards.” Watson, arguably the longest player in the field, hit two drivers and came up 60 yards short of the green.

“It's a case where longer is not better,” Mickelson said.

Frankly, from the back tee, it might be better for players to adjust their standards.

“Yeah, it's a par-6,” Steve Stricker said.

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