Defining holes - The hardest finish in golf
Carnoustie has a sadistic mind. Just when a player has tackled Hogan’s Alley, fought past the front nine and finished on the monstrous 14th, all with a North Sea wind crashing into them, they approach the 15th. And sigh.
If the field has learned anything this week, it’s that Carnoustie possesses the most fearsome finish in golf. From the 15th to the 18th, the collective score on the first day and a half was 330 over-par.
Holding onto a score through the final four is a demanding task. Getting through them without dropping a shot is as good as a birdie.
15th: Lucky Slap
The most punishing par-four on the course, this 472-yard hole has pitfalls at every turn with bunkers guarding the green.
Round 2 produced some unforgettable moments here at Carnoustie. Watch the highlights below 👇 pic.twitter.com/8w7ZIqVhno— The Open (@TheOpen) July 20, 2018
The 15th slopes heavily from left to right and requires length and accuracy off the tee. Only the biggest hitters will be eyeing birdie but even then Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have registered bogeys.
The hard work never truly feels done on Lucky Slap, even if a player avoids the sand from the tee. There are two more bunkers 25 yards short and it boasts a sunken green that is partially hidden on approach.
Hitting into the wind is an occupational hazard and the need for heavy draw and fade on first two shots means playing for par on this hole is a sensible move. With 72 bogeys and six doubles across the first two days, it’s easy to see why.
16th: Barry Burn
A brute of a par-three, scores of aspiring Champion Golfers have run into trouble with this 275-yard menace; its wind tunnel providing one of the sport’s toughest natural defences.
At 248 yards, a birdie is almost impossible. Only 19 were recorded in 2007 when The Open last visited this course.
Saturday pin positions ⛳️ pic.twitter.com/vUg4vrE4sm— The Open (@TheOpen) July 20, 2018
Jack Nicklaus called this the hardest par-three in golf and Tom Watson failed on each of his five attempts to par the hole in 1975, nearly scuppering his bid for a first Claret Jug.
Paul Lawrie has suggested playing short and leaving a straightforward up and down might be the way to play this hole.
And standing on the tee, the final pairings will be racked with nerves on Sunday afternoon – you can’t win The Open on this hole, but you can certainly lose it.
17th: The Island
Islands can be lonely places and none more so than the 17th at Carnoustie, where the Barry Burn must once again be reckoned with.
The quirkiest hole on the golf course, water lines the initial fairway and drives must be placed carefully on the island section of the hole or hazards lie in wait.
If this is crossed, three harsh bunkers guard the right-hand side of the green where pin placements can certainly sort the wheat from the chaff.
With only 14 birdies through the first two days, it’s a mean hole this week, with a frightening average of 4.296 shots.
Greg Norman was one to fall foul, succumbing to a double bogey in the second round of The 1999 Open after a five-under first round.
The 18th demands a brave drive and a careful approach, making it the most demanding final hole you will find anywhere.
Through two days, an incredible 28 double bogeys were recorded, including Kevin Kisner’s at the end of round two.
A safe tee shot is the secret to success. Nail the fairway and the Barry Burn which snakes down in front of the green is largely out of play.
However, find the rough or a bunker and trouble lies ahead. A narrow green and wide bunkers 30 yards from the pin will keep the field honest right to the end, as Andres Romero can attest after his triple bogey in 2007.
Jean van de Velde needed a double bogey or better to win The 1999 Open, but he found the water and then a bunker to make triple and then conceded the Claret Jug to Paul Lawrie after a play-off.
It’s the natural climax to The Open, the final four holes a perfect proving ground for the title of Champion Golfer of the Year.
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