The Bear Trap: One of the PGA Tour’s toughest stretches set to maul Honda Classic field again

Holes 15, 16 and 17 on the Champion Course at PGA National have a fearsome reputation and are ready to bite

When a section of a golf course is called The Bear Trap, it's pretty obvious that trouble is lurking.

It's to be found on the Champion Course at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. And being able to come through it relatively unscathed is crucial for those hoping to win this week's Honda Classic in Florida.

The Bear Trap is one of the most demanding three-hole stretches in golf and, craftily, is placed near the very end of the 18-hole test.

It was coined in honour of the legendary Jack Nicklaus who helped restore the tough-as-teak par 70.

A plaque and bear statue celebrate the challenge, if celebrate is the right word. Perhaps it's better to say they act as a warning.

To judge just how tough it is, Golfweek offers this sobering stat: "These three water-laden holes rank as the fourth-toughest stretch on Tour of non-majors courses that have been played in at least 10 or more seasons since 2007. Since that time, there have been 1,515 balls in the water on the three-hole stretch and 446 of 570 players, or 78 percent of the field, have hit at least one ball in the drink on the Bear Trap."

The three holes that form The Bear Trap

Here's the terrible trio with explanations from the PGA TOUR website:

Hole 15: Par 3, 179 yards

"The back of the green was raised after 1990 for visibility. The hole usually plays into the wind and a fade aimed at the bunkers on the left will likely avoid the water on the right. The tough pin is back right."

Hole 16: Par 4, 434 yards

"This dogleg right is the toughest par 4 of all PGA National's holes. Off the tee, everything slopes toward the water on the right, but a bunker was added to catch balls that roll too far right. Those who bail out left are faced with a 220-yard second shot over water, into the wind."

Hole 17: Par 3, 175 yards

"This shortest hole on the Champion is by no means the easiest. With the wind in your face or when it's blowing left to right toward the water to the right - and a bunker long and left - the only place to put your ball is on the green. With just a 30-foot landing area there, the toughest pin is middle left."

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Famous quotes on The Bear Trap

Jack Nicklaus - "It should all be won or lost here. It's not about length, it's about precision. It's about guts. It's all about what do you have in your chest that you can finish those holes."

Tiger Woods - "There are no bailouts. You have to commit and hit a good shot."

Mark Wilson (2007 Honda Classic winner - "Standing on the 15th tee, even with a six-shot lead, I'm going to be nervous still."

What the field are saying about The Bear Trap ahead of this year's event

Adam Scott - "I think it gets the name for a reason. You know, none of it's easy out here. 15 and 17 for sure require commitment and precision to the shot. That's it. You've got the green to hit, and that's all you've got. There's no real bail-out. And 16 becomes very demanding if you miss the fairway. That's all about the tee shot. There's plenty of green up there, but once you get in the rough or you get in a fairway bunker, the variables change and a long shot across water, we haven't seen any horror shows, but a quick trip to the water and a double is very possible.

"It's really a matter of survival, and I think it's probably more so than even last week at TPC (Sawgrass). This can unravel you even more. 16 at TPC of course there's the water, but rare to see more than a bogey, even with a trip to the water there.

"You know, here I can put my hand up and say I've made a quad on 15 and I reckon if you went back and had a look, I might have made a quad on 17 in the past, as well. It can get away from you pretty quick, and this is a tough stretch here, and it is a matter of survival."

Adam Scott is 25/1 with Paddy Power to win the Honda Classic

Lee Westwood - "They're at the end of the round of golf, so you're thinking about them all day. It very much depends on which way the wind is blowing, but certainly when it's into off the left on 15, 16 and 17, blowing from that direction, they're beasts of holes, and you've really got to have control of your golf swing and your ball flight. If you walk off with 3, 4, 3 on those three holes, you're delighted."

Lee Westwood is 20/1 with William Hill to win The Honda Classic

Padraig Harrington - "There's no bail-outs. There's nowhere to go. You've got to really hit a great shot. With the grandstands and things, it's difficult, it's a difficult angle to find the wind on. I think that probably is what makes the Bear Trap so difficult, the wind direction, even on 16, you're never 100 percent sure how much you've changed direction, how much it's across or down.

"So yeah, there's a little bit of doubt thrown into it, into the mix, and they're obviously very difficult shots with no bail-out. I would think if you went down to it, I think this is probably the toughest stretch, the toughest three-hole stretch, certainly 15 and 17."

Padraig Harrington is 200/1 with Unibet to win The Honda Classic

READ MORE: A look at the chances of the leading containers at The Honda Classic

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