A course of two halves: What the stats revealed
They talk about Royal Troon as a course of two distinct halves, so it is fair to say it lived up to its reputation in the first round of The 145th Open.
The aim is to make a good score on the front nine and to hold on coming home down the backward stretch. The statistics make for interesting reading. In the first round, seven of the hardest holes in relation to par were on the back nine. The outward half (Par: 36) played to an average of 35.173, the inward half (Par: 35) played to an average of 36.871.
The hardest hole
In relatively benign conditions, the 11th lived up to its fearsome reputation. A par four of 482 yards, with out of bounds all the way down the right and thick gorse to the left, a par there can feel like a birdie. The hole was changed from a par five to a par four in 1997 and is universally regarded as one of hardest holes in golf.
In the first round the 11th witnessed six birdies, 80 pars, 45 bogeys, 11 double bogeys and 13 triple bogeys or worse. Three players – David Duval, Steven Bowditch and Anthony Wall – had nines. *Chris Wood withdrew through injury before playing the hole.
With the railway line just a few yards right of the green, the approach shot requires nerves of steel. Perhaps that is why only 24.4% of the field found the green in regulation, despite the fact that 60.3% hit the fairway.
The average score was 4.705.
The easiest hole
The friendliest hole on the course was the 4th, the first of three par fives. When the wind is in their favour (as it usually is), most players fancy their chances of a birdie here. In the first round three of them – Byeong Hun An, Haydn Porteous and Kiradech Aphibarnrat - went one better and claimed eagle threes. In distinct contrast to the 11th, there were three eagles, 73 birdies, 64 pars, 13 bogeys and three double bogeys.
Curiously, fewer players hit the fairway here than at the 11th – 57.7% compared to 60.3% - although 82.7% of the field found the green in regulation.
The average score was 4.615
In total there were 332 birdies on the front nine and 159 on the back nine. In terms of pars, there was almost parity, with 871 pars on the outward half and 873 on the inward half.
Most telling was the number of dropped shots on each half. Bogeys: Front nine: 168. Back nine: 291. Double bogeys: Front nine: 20. Back nine: 49. Triple bogeys or worse: Front nine: 4. Back nine: 21