Saturday, May 27, 2023

Old Course that stands the test of time at the modern British Open

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland ( Associated Press) — Tiger Woods is one of the few who can appreciate how the Old Course was played in the old days.

The first time he played at St. Andrews for the British Open as a professional was in 2000, and on his last day of practice, Woods dragged a driver in relatively benign conditions to the front of the green on the 352-yard ninth hole.

Then swing coach Butch Harmon pulled out a replica of the gutta-percha golf ball from over a century ago. Woods tore into another driver and then a 5-iron just over his back.

Such is the mystique of St. Andrews, particularly the Old Course.

This is the 150th edition of the Open, and it has been 149 years since it was first held in the birthplace of golf. Yes, the course has changed over the years. And yes, the evolution of the game has led to scores dropping with each generation, just as times have dropped on the track and in the pool.

But it’s still the Old Course.

“Even with technological advances, this golf course still stands the test of time,” Woods said. “It is still very difficult, and obviously it depends on the weather. You have winds like we did today, it’s a great test.”

This was Tuesday, the strongest wind of the week. Woods hit a 6-iron for his second shot on the 386-yard 10th hole. He was 120 yards upwind. In a different wind, maybe even no wind, he can still get the driver around the green.

Amid so much celebration of history this week at St. Andrews, there are rumors that the Old Course could become obsolete. It already uses parts of three other courses to extend it to 7,313 yards. And while it’s a par 72 with only two par 5s, at least four of the par 4s could be accessible off the tee considering how crisp the links are this year.

And the fearsome wind, which along with the bunkers is the Old Course’s great defence, is expected to be little more than a breeze.

Rory McIlroy still regrets a 3-foot birdie putt he missed on the 17th hole in the first round in 2010. He had to settle for a 63. And then the wind came and he shot an 80.

Jordan Spieth, who missed the playoffs by a knock in 2015 in his St. Andrews debut, raised concerns last week when he said the British Open could be little more than a “wedge contest” if the wind blows out of the way. holidays.

The reason it resists the modern game? “Because of the weather,” she said. But then he quickly added, “I don’t think it will stand the test of time if it’s benign.”

He thought back to the last time, in 2015, when Louis Oosthuizen won the three-man playoff after they finished 15 under. That was a Monday finish due to wind delays.

“If conditions are calm for four days, which I don’t think will happen here, I think with today’s technology, it becomes a shootout.”

It’s not all about power. Spieth says windy or not, there are certain places players can get to due to subtle turns, pot bunkers, and even some gorse bushes depending on the line. Getting there is easier without wind. The next shot is easier. The scores are lower.

But then there’s Scottie Scheffler, who is contemplating hitting left to sixth fairway when he’s playing 13 just to avoid bunkers.

The number 1 player in the world can join some elite company. Winning at Augusta National and St. Andrews is special. The list includes Woods and Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros, most recently Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson.

Scheffler spends more time on the field than he does on the field, discovering myriad options on how to play shots. From about 30 yards off the green, he’s used just about everything from a putter to a 6-iron. He’s already experienced how different the course has played in normal wind by Scottish standards: 5-iron, wedge on the first hole one day , 3 iron, 5 iron another day.

“When you get a little windy, all bets are off,” he said.

In some ways, St. Andrews is like Pebble Beach. On a calm day, it can be a very pleasant ride and as easy a course as players will find at a major championship. In the wind, it can be a holy terror. Nicklaus and Woods are the only players to have won majors in both.

“To believe that the game of golf essentially started here, and it’s absolutely mind-boggling to me that it still holds up to golfers today,” Nicklaus said. “I tell you, if you have a little bit of weather, every time you have it, it will tell you real quick how it makes you hold up.”

And no wind?

The record score in a major is 62 by Branden Grace at Royal Birkdale in 2017.

Martin Slumbers, the R&A boss, isn’t the least bit worried about scoring. He only cares about the Old Course being as perfect as possible, and he’s close to that. The links are so firm and flexible that the ball moves faster on the fairways than on the greens.

“The second part is luck, and luck with mother nature,” he said.

Even in moderate wind, trust the Old Course to handle it better. He wasn’t upset when someone brought up the notion of a 59, which is 13 under par.

“There are 7,300 yards. It has greens that run at 10 1/2 to 11 (on the Stimpmeter). It has fairways where the ball bounces 50 yards if hit and more if it catches the slope. I’ll tell you what, if someone shoots that, I’ll be the first person on the 18th green to shake his hand because he’s played exceptional golf.”


More Associated Press golf: and

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
Latest news
Related news


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here