- 1st, 17th and 18th holes made more user-friendly
- Kent links will be more than 100 yards longer for 2011 Open
The chances of Tiger Woods losing a ball with his first shot at this year’s Open Championship – as he did the last time the event was at Royal St George’s – have been severely reduced. With less than 30% of all drives finishing on the fairway in 2003 the landing area has been widened by about 12 yards.
Woods started with a triple-bogey seven – Jerry Kelly of the US had an 11 – and ended the week two strokes behind the surprise winner Ben Curtis. “Tiger’s lost ball was not an influence – it was the overall statistic of 27-28%,” said the Royal and Ancient Club’s chief executive, Peter Dawson.
The fairways on the 17th and 18th have also been made more user-friendly, but the Kent links will be over 100 yards longer for July’s tournament – and yet the par comes down from 71 to 70. That is because the famous 4th hole – the one with a huge bunker staring the players in the face as they tee off – has been changed from a 497-yard par five to a 495-yard par four.
The 3rd is 30 yards longer at 240, the 7th goes up from 532 to 564 yards and the 9th increases from 388 to 412 yards. The main alteration on the back nine, meanwhile, is to stretch the 15th from 475 yards to a 496-yard par four. That was the hole that saw the start of Thomas Bjorn’s collapse from three ahead with four to play in 2003.
It was a very different story the previous time Sandwich hosted the event. That was in 1993 and Greg Norman set an Open record of 267 – 13-under, with a par of 70 that year – which still stands to this day.
Low scoring was the name of the game that week with the runner-up Nick Faldo and Payne Stewart equaling the major low-round record of 63 and Ernie Els becoming the first player in Open history to have all four rounds under 70.In contrast, nobody scored lower than the 67s by Faldo and the Swede Pierre Fulke in 2003.