Jockeying for Position
It is sometimes said that all Majors come down to the last nine holes on Sunday (in this case Monday) and that is certainly the case when The Open Championship is held at St Andrews.
The front nine on the Old Course tends to yield lots of birdies but competitors need their “A” game if they want to remain in contention when they turn for home.
This year’s cumulative course statistics paint a vivid picture of the disparity between the two nines.
It will come as no surprise to find that the 17TH hole (the dreaded Road Hole) has been the most difficult over the last three rounds but what is also noticeable is that five other holes on the back nine rank among the nine most difficult on the course.
The 17TH has yielded eight birdies during the course of the first three rounds of The Open but has also cost 174 bogeys, 24 double bogeys and nine “others” and is currently first on the difficulty rating with an average of 4.625.
The 16TH is currently the second hardest hole on the course (averaging 4.240) and it is followed in order by the 13TH (fourth hardest with an average of 4.163), the 11TH (fifth hardest with an average of 3.122), the 15TH (sixth hardest with an average of 4.097) and 12TH (ninth hardest with an average of 4.020). It is only when competitors reach the relative sanctuary of the 18TH that they can obtain some relief because it is the second easiest hole on the course with an average of 3.735.
For the record this week’s easiest hole is the par-five fifth which has yielded eight eagles and 205 birdies. Contenders will lose ground if they don’t get a four here because it is averaging 4.492. The biggest test on the front nine is the 480-yard par four fourth which is currently ranked third hardest hole on the course with an average of 4.171.