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« 2011 Open Picks And Other Punting Tidbits | Main | Rory Arrives And Sandwich Turns Into Roryal St. George's! »
Tuesday
Jul122011

Players Praising Royal St. George's, R&A

However, I've noticed a developing theme in a few preview stories about the Royal St. George's that probably needs to stop: the suggestion that the R&A addressed complaints from 2003 by widening fairways and keeping the rough tame.

Let's give credit where credit is due: the Golf Gods kept Sandwich dry and therefore, at least based on the player comments I've seen, the course is going to present itself nicely thanks to the lack of tall grass next to fairways, an R&A staple in recent years either due to weather, or in cases like the Road hole, to slow down exploding driving distances.

Lawrence Donegan talked to Geoff Ogilvy about the increased freedom this week.

The thoughtful Aussie didn't participate in the 2003 Open but had played in two amateur events here back in the mid-1990s. "I remember it as being horrendously difficult ... which it still is in parts. But I am enjoying it much more than I did before,'' he said. "Strategically, it is much more interesting than I gave it credit for."

By that, Ogilvy meant the players will be forced to think a lot more about where they will place their tee shots, and how they play their approach to the green. "There is a massive advantage to hitting it in the correct spot with your tee shot on, for example, the fifth hole. There is a little high plateau on the fairway from where you can see the green. Hit it anywhere else and you are either in the bunkers or really low spot from where you have to hit a blind shot over a dune," he said.

The view Ogilvy speaks of on the 5th hole (click to enlarge)Donegan notes the "accident" of less rough, which based on recent Open setups, sadly is the correct term.

This time around – by an accident of the weather rather than by design – the rough is wispier and nowhere near as long.It gives the players a chance to showcase their skills. "It gives us a chance to play recovery shots – the most exciting and fun shots in the game," says former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy.

Those tempted by Adam Scott at 66-1, you have to like his attitude going into a week where the quirk will weed out many in the field, telling Steve DiMeglio in USA Today:

"I would say it's a bit of a fiddly golf course," Adam Scott said. "The fairways are very much undulated, and you're going to get some good bounces and you're going to get some bad bounces. We're all pretty spoiled, and when we hit it down the middle of the fairway we expect it to be in the middle of the fairway, but that's not how golf works over here.

"But we're all going to have to deal with the same things. I'm going to be pretty fired up to stand on the first tee Thursday and play an Open Championship. I don't care what the course looks like, I just want to win the thing, you know?"

Stephanie Wei gets Justin Rose's thoughts and while he's still not keen on the course, he feels it is more playable than 2003.

Eight years later, Rose has changed his tune after Monday's practice round, where he kept his sense of humor.

"It’s the kind of course where there are more blind shots than most good golf courses have and there are some quirky bumps and hollows," Rose said. "But this year it’s slightly wider off the tee, slightly less rough, which makes it a little more playable."

What Rose appreciates most about the changes to the course are their subtlety, saying the R&A didn't go "overboard," and "it doesn't necessarily feel like you're playing a new course."

Bob Harig talks to several veterans about Royal St. George's, including Jack Nicklaus, who says he can't recall saying the further South the weaker the Open venue.

"I might have said that," Nicklaus joked.

At Royal St. George's, Nicklaus tied for 23rd in 1981, then missed the cut in 1985 and 1993.

"I just did better at the Scottish venues so I like the Scottish venues better," Nicklaus, 71, said. "But I never said the further south you got, the worse the courses were. I never said that. Not that I can ever recall."

Uh, Jack … could it have been the other way around? The farther north you go, the better the British courses get?

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Reader Comments (2)

Great photo!
I made a double just looking at it.
07.13.2011 | Unregistered Commenterdbh
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