Short and sweet: History in the making at the Postage Stamp
With the hole cut just 100 yards from the tee, the Postage Stamp beat its own record today as the shortest hole in the history of The Open.
One of the most iconic holes in world golf, the par three 8th, which normally plays to around 123 yards , also happens to be one of the players’ favourites. That doesn’t mean they find it easy, but they do find it challenging.
“The favourite holes that guys play are short par threes or driveable par fours and that is the coolest par three that we play,” Phil Mickelson once said when asked to choose his favourite hole in The Open.
For Mickelson, the Postage Stamp allows him to use his imagination to the full. Depending on the strength of the wind it can require as much as a punched five-iron or a flicked sand wedge.
In the first round the 2013 Champion Golfer of the Year knocked his tee shot to within a foot of the hole for a birdie and went even closer in the second with a shot that almost finished in the hole. Today he had to settle for a par, which he greeted with a wry smile.
Interestingly, the hole proved tricky for many of the players today. With the amount of spin they create with the short irons, there was always the risk they could spin the ball off the green and into the front bunker.
Take Tony Finau, for example; the American landed his ball beyond the hole and probably thought he was on for a hole in one when the ball spun back, only for it to graze the hole and roll into the bunker. It took two to get out and a single putt for a bogey.
Henrik Stenson lost a share of the lead there after finding the front bunker and dropping a shot, while Graeme McDowell and Marc Leishman both walked off with triple bogey sixes. In total there were 10 birdies, 51 pars, 18 double bogeys and two triples bogeys.
Lee Westwood, who birdied the hole, was impressed with the decision to shorten it: “I think it’s fantastic to see a bit of imagination like that,” he said. “It just goes to show that all the best par threes in the world and all the memorable ones are under 150 yards. Here at the 8th, the 7th at Pebble Beach, the 17th at Sawgrass, and the 12th at Augusta are four that come to mind.
“It’s a shame course designers think a good par three is now 240, 250 yards. It’s nice to see one playing (around) 99 yards, playing difficult and needing a lot of thought and concentration.”