The world's best — sans Tiger — are descending upon Sandwich, England, for the Open Championship at Royal St. Georges, a charming, quirky layout that features several blind shots and tricky crosswinds. It's where Ben Curtis pulled a shocking win in his first major appearance in 2003, and the layout is just unpredictable enough to produce another stunning result in 2011.
Right out of the gate, players must stay out of “The Kitchen,” a valley cutting the fairway roughly 250 yards off the tee. The approach needs to fly three cross bunkers in front of a green that falls away on the right.
Do You Remember?
Tiger Woods’ bid to win the 2003 Open was essentially derailed by his first tee shot, a miss 30 yards right that was lost, leading to a triple bogey 7.
Although it was lengthened for the 2003 Open, this par 4 can still provide a birdie opportunity, if players can carry their drive 260 yards over the two fairway bunkers guarding the left side. The green rises above the fairway, tilting from back to front and falling off on either side.
A new tee adds length to the only par 3 on the Open rotation without a bunker. Sand dunes surround a narrow green, dissected by a ridge. It was the third hardest hole in relation to par in 2003.
Hitting the S-shaped fairway is difficult with a ferocious set of bunkers staring back at players along the right side of the fairway. A 270-yard carry over them is the ideal line. Anything left of that could find the bunker farther up the left side. Menacing slopes make putting a challenge. Anything long of the green is out of bounds.
Normally, this dogleg left requires a conservative play off the tee, laying up short of the trouble that cuts the fairway and steering clear of the five pot bunkers on the left. But if a tailwind picks up, like it did in 2003, some players will bomb it over a sandy ridge. There is out of bounds to contend with up the right side from 170 yards and in.
Did You Know?
During the second round of the 1949 Open, Harry Bradshaw hit his ball into a broken beer bottle just off the fairway. Without a rules official nearby and fearing disqualification, he played the ball as it lay, smashing the bottle but advancing the ball 30 yards. Unsettled, it took him two more shots to hit the green. He ultimately lost to Bobby Locke in a playoff.
Pros can take advantage of this short hole. Four bunkers ring a two-tiered green. A towering hill known as “The Maiden” sits behind the green.
Despite being the longest hole on the course, it’s also the easiest, provided the pros execute a blind drive well enough from a new championship tee to miss the lone fairway bunker. Almost every player will have a green light to go for it in two. Six bunkers farther along are the only defenses against par.
An intimidating uphill tee shot must skirt two bunkers up the right side. The hole swings to the right over an 80-yard-long patch of troublesome rough to a skinny undulating green protected by two greenside bunkers.
The right-hand fairway bunker, once called “The Corsets,” isn’t the only concern off the new championship tee. Unfortunate bounces are a fact of life on rippling fairways like this one. Two cross bunkers at 70 yards shouldn’t be in play, unless a chop out of the dunes is necessary. The four greenside hazards are a factor. An erratic green falls off radically on the right.
The fairway bunker left shouldn’t be in play much. It’s the approach to a green perched way above the fairway that will cause fits. Finding the four greenside bunkers is better than any miss over the green. Long is dead.
Do You Remember?
Leading the 1985 Open Championship at the time, Tom Kite went from bunker to bunker for a double bogey six, derailing his chances.
Finding a green sandwiched by five bunkers is tough, but finding the hole is harder still. The green’s breaks are so baffling, new members are told never to concede even the shortest of putts.
Although the shortest par 4 on the course, this dogleg right is peppered with nine bunkers created to cause concern from every angle. Cutting too much of the corner brings the five cross bunkers short of the green into play as well as some nasty lies from untidy land.
A hidden fairway narrows considerably at the 260-yard mark, choked by two fairway bunkers on either side. The approach to a narrow green 42 yards long can change dramatically depending on the pin. Out-of-bounds markers lie beyond the green.
“Suez” is the signature test of the layout, named after the canal cutting across the fairway roughly 320 yards off the tee. More dangerous than the water are the out-of-bounds markers running the entire length of the right side. Four bunkers litter the zone where most players lay up their second shot.
Do You Remember?
Bernhard Langer made a 7, one of 22 double bogeys or worse during the 1993 Open. The blunder left him three behind champion Greg Norman. In 2003, Davis Love hit one of the white stakes, which kept his ball in bounds, propelling him to a lead after two rounds.
A new championship tee brings the three bunkers left and two right more into play, constricting the landing zone. Three greenside bunkers are chain-linked together in front, blocking any traditional links shot trying to bounce in. Steep drop-offs characterize the green.
Although the shortest hole on the course, a sloppy shot could alter the tournament, like it did for Thomas Bjorn in 2003. Leading the championship in the final round, he found one of the seven bunkers surrounding the green, eventually carding a double-bogey five.
The two fairway bunkers are innocent bystanders compared to the mischievous swales farther down the fairway. Two bunkers flank a plateau green on either side. Missed shots that fall short trickle down the slope.
Do You Remember?
Ben Curtis bogeyed this hole, one of three back-nine bogeys in the final round of the 2003 Open, but his up-and-down for par on the final hole would prove to be enough to capture his only major championship.
Finding an awkwardly shaped fairway, while avoiding two fairways bunkers and two cross bunkers farther up, is paramount. Misguided approach shots tend to collect in “Duncan’s Hollow” left of the green. The depression is named after George Duncan, who failed to get up and down for par at the 1922 Open, handing the title to Walter Hagen.
MLB The 2015 MLB playoffs get started Tuesday night in the Bronx when the Houston Astros take on the New York Yankees in the American League Wild Card Game. The winner will face the Royals, the team...
College Football We're all human, we all make mistakes. The only difference between our mistakes and those of college athletes is that their mistakes are in the public eye. During halftime of the Texas...
College Football No touchdown stood out more in Utah’s 62-20 victory over Oregon back on Sept. 26 than Boobie Hobbs’ 69-yard punt return for the Utes late in the third quarter. Hobbs had a clear path...
College Football After making mistake after mistake, there was Notre Dame with seven seconds left and a chance to tie Clemson. But it wasn’t to be and for the second year in a row, the first Irish loss of the...
College Football As Saturday night turned into Sunday morning, Clemson fans were wet and concerned about the dangerous flooding situation in their home state. They were also ecstatic. That’s because No....
NFL The Seattle Seahawks will be looking to get back to the .500 mark on Monday night as they will take on the Detroit Lions in another must-win game for both teams. Detroit won the last meeting in the...
College Football When Nebraska offensive tackle Alex Lewis was elected captain by his Cornhusker teammates, he was given a tremendous amount of trust. He was to represent the team as a whole, to be one of their...
College Football, News We brought our own guts for this week's podcast, and we'll need guts to break down another wild week in which few favorites were left unscathed. Co-hosts Braden Gall and David Fox...
College Football, News Numbers and statistics are a huge part of college football. Every Sunday, reading updated box scores and stats is like Christmas for fans and media members. Some stats like total offense and...
College Football, News Week 5 of the 2015 college football season is in the books. Saturday's slate produced plenty of must-see games, including the anticipated Clemson-Notre Dame showdown in rainy Death...
College Football, News Week 5 of the college football season is officially in the books. Needless to say, Week 5 wasn’t short on drama or intrigue around the nation. The weekend started with Cincinnati’s upset...
NFL Both Dallas and New Orleans limp into this prime-time clash after a loss to a member of the NFC South. The difference is the current record of each team. Atlanta's victory in Jerry World was the...
NFL The Green Bay offensive juggernaut rolls west Sunday to see if it can continue to bedevil opposing defenses. Despite a spate of injuries that has claimed starters at wideout and right tackle, the...
NFL The undefeated Arizona Cardinals (3-0) welcome their divisional rival St. Louis Rams (1-2) Sunday in a game featuring two of the best defenses in the league. With the return of Carson Palmer, the...
NFL, Fantasy Welcome to Week 4, where more big-name fantasy quarterbacks are finding their way onto the injury report. First, we lost Tony Romo. Next, Drew Brees and Jay Cutler did not play in Week 3. Then Ben...
NFL, Fantasy As has been the case this season, the fantasy owners need to pay particular attention to the lengthy list of injured running backs. There’s some good news with the potential return of some key...
NFL, Fantasy Per usual, the list of injured running backs is the longest out of all the positions that fantasy owners must deal with in Week 4. The big names in the early Sunday games are impressive enough, but...
NFL, Fantasy As we head into Week 4, it's another week with a full injury report for fantasy owners to digest. Two teams (Patriots, Titans) are on bye, so that's a week for players on those teams to heal...