Welcome to Carnoustie, home to the 147th Open this week, the eighth time it has staged the most famous golf event in the world
Justin Rose says it is fair; Padraig Harrington describes the last four holes as brutish and Tiger Woods says the fairways are running faster than the greens.
Welcome to Carnoustie, home to the 147th Open this week, the eighth time it has staged the most famous golf event in the world.
The most northerly course on the rota of courses that hold the Open, Carnoustie holds a special place in golfing history, around 300 of its members having travelled to America between 1890 and 1940 as part of a mission to spread golf around the world.
One of their number, Stewart Maiden, even coached Bobby Jones, who became the best ever amateur golfer in history.
But the way it plays this week will be what is most on the players’ minds as they get ready to begin their challenge for the Claret Jug, the trophy awarded to the winner.
The incredibly dry summer to date has left the fairways lightning fast, to the extent that Woods said on Tuesday they were faster than the greens themselves.
If the wind picks up, then the course, which measures over 7 400 yards this week, will present a huge test to everyone chasing glory on the links, as it did in 1999, when Paul Lawrie won after a play-off, having finished on six over par.
“In 1999 it got a reputation for being incredibly tough because of the setup,” Englishman Rose said, of an event that saw the Frenchman, Jean van de Velde throw away a three-shot lead on the final hole.
“You can make any course as tough as you want if it’s set up like that.
“It’s a fair golf course. I think especially with where the rough is and how burnt out it is right now, it’s as fair as we’ve ever seen it.”
Lawrie, who won’t be in the field because of injury, said the weather will be key.
“It’s the toughest on the rota when it’s nasty weather,” Lawrie said. “It’s not got any longer over the years, which to me is a great test of how a golf course has stood the test of time. It’s just a great golf course.
“I think someone will be very good this week, the ground’s hard and the greens are in great condition. I don’t know which course is the best, but it’s one of the best.”
Irishman Harrington, who won when the Open was last at Carnoustie in 2007, said the final four holes can be the toughest part.
“They can be brutish at best,” he says. “No matter how you’ve done in those first 14 holes, where you might have played well, you still have to get home to the clubhouse in those four holes.
“It’s a difficult stretch in golf, and to have them the last four holes of a championship really is what makes Carnoustie as tough as it is.”
With some holes, including the sixth – “Hogan’s Alley” and the 14th – “Spectacles” among the most well-known in golf, Carnoustie is likely to test everyone this week.
Even Tommy Fleetwood, the Englishman who holds the course record of 63 from last year’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – and who was second at the US Open last month – knows its threat.
“It does no harm to have the course record at Carnoustie but I know that this week it’s going to be a lot harder and it’s going to be a different course,” Fleetwood said.
“The great thing about the tournament is that, because of the last four holes, nothing is over until it is over.” – dpa