The Road Hole Takes its Toll
The 17TH hole at St Andrew is widely regarded as the world’s toughest par-four and it certainly lived up to that reputation on the first day of The 144TH Open Championship.
Nobody will be surprised to learn that the Road Hole was by some distance the hardest hole on the course and its average score (4.833) beat the previous record one day average (4.80) set in the first round in 2000. It was also higher than the cumulative averages recorded in 1984 (4.75), 1990 (4.65), 1995 (4.62), 2000 (4.71), 2005 (4.63) and 2010 (4.665).
The carnage the Road Hole caused is perhaps best illustrated by a glance at the individual scores recorded on a day in which the weather deteriorated but could never have been described as more than challenging. During the course of the first round 54 competitors did manage to record a par in front of the packed grandstands at the 17TH but there were also 84 bogeys, 12 double bogeys and six others.
One of those dreaded others came from Irish challenger Shane Lowry who was three-under-par when he boarded the penultimate tee but proceeded to walk off with an eight after hitting his tee shot out-of-bounds. He went on to miss a six-foot birdie putt on the 18th which would have given him a level par 72 and then declined to speak to his friends in the Irish media on the grounds that “I would regret immediately anything I might say.”
The scoring on the 17TH was also notable because not a single birdie was recorded during the course of the day. That has happened twice before – in 1990 and 2000 – but in both instances that was in the fourth round and not before the cut when there was still a full field competing on the course.
At the other end of the spectrum the easiest hole during the first round of The 144TH Open Championship was the 570-yard par-five 5TH which yielded three eagles, 84 birdies, 56 pars and 13 bogeys and played to an average of 4.506.