Skip to main content
The 151st Open

A fabulous finish


17 and 18 at Royal Liverpool

Tommy Fleetwood on the 17th tee at Royal Liverpool

When the finishing holes at Royal Liverpool were given a makeover ahead of The 151st Open, it was hoped the new-look closing stretch would deliver drama in abundance and a genuine sense of unpredictability.

Mission accomplished.

Between them, Hoylake’s brand-new par-3 17th and lengthened par-5 18th played host to every score from one to 10 across the four days of the Championship.

There were plenty of birdies to be had, together with five eagles on 18 and an unforgettable ace for Travis Smyth on 17.

Yet while there were certainly opportunities to score on each of the last two holes, they both offered little margin for error, a fact underlined by the fact they produced a joint total of 58 scores of double-bogey or worse.

Despite the wide variation in scoring, the 17th and 18th each played close to par overall. The former yielded an average score of 3.12 for the Championship, while the average on 18 was 4.98 and exactly 5 on the final day.

We take a look at what made both holes so special.


Little Eye

Named ‘Little Eye’ in recognition of the small island in the Dee Estuary that can be seen from the green, the new 17th understandably captured plenty of attention in the lead-up to The 151st Open.

The stunningly picturesque hole measured just 136 yards on the card and ultimately played shorter than that on each day of the Championship.

Yet every player who teed it up on 17 knew they could not afford to be anything other than precise with their opening shot, given the dangers surrounding an infinity green with significant fall-off areas on all sides.

Smyth, who made a double-bogey five on day one, showed what was possible when he holed a nine-iron in round two to send the packed grandstands around the tee and green into raptures, while there were also 65 birdies on the hole.

However, that figure was outweighed by 72 bogeys, 15 double-bogeys and seven card-wrecking sixes as a host of players paid a heavy price for missing the putting surface.

Sand surrounded the green on all sides, with the area to the back of the green and a pot bunker to the right particularly punishing.

Viktor Hovland escapes from a perilous position at Royal Liverpool's 17th

Viktor Hovland escapes from a perilous position behind the 17th green

As a result, every tee shot at Little Eye felt like an event, with a fantastic atmosphere generated as each group arrived on the tee and keen anticipation thereafter as player after player sought to hold their nerve.

No competitor fared better on the 17th than the Champion Golfer of 2016, Henrik Stenson, who parred the hole on Friday and made a birdie two on each of the other three days.

The newest recipient of the Claret Jug, Brian Harman, was rock solid as he carded four pars on the hole – a return any player would surely have accepted at the start of the week.


The scores on 17

7 sixes

15 fives

72 fours

304 threes

65 twos

1 hole-in-one


A truly unpredictable finish

Considerable focus may have been applied to 17, but there was arguably even more unpredictability and excitement to be seen on Royal Liverpool’s final hole.

The view from the grandstand at Royal Liverpool's 18th

The view from behind the 18th green at Royal Liverpool

With out-of-bounds running down the length of the hole to the right, the par-5 18th had already gained a reputation prior to 2023 as a wonderful risk-reward challenge.

Yet that challenge was even tougher in The 151st Open, with the hole approximately 50 yards longer and the angle of the tee shot changed to bring the internal out-of-bounds more into play than ever before.

Only five players made eagle at 18 all week, with defending Champion Cameron Smith and Harman, the man who succeeded him, both doing so in round two after spectacular approach shots.

Thirty per cent of the scores on the hole were birdie fours, but 18 only played under-par for the week by the narrowest of margins as 36 players dropped two shots or more in a single visit.

Taichi Kho suffered most of all, carding a 10 on day one, while there were also three quadruple-bogey nines and six triple-bogey eights.

From fantastic threes to a double-figure score, this was a hole that had everything.


The scores on 18

1 ten

3 nines

6 eights

26 sevens

52 sixes

232 fives

139 fours

5 threes


Noren's unique statistic

The unpredictability of 17 and 18 is perhaps summed up best by the fact just one player, Alex Noren, parred both holes on all four days of the Championship.

Champion Golfer Harman played 17 and 18 superbly throughout the week, recording a three-under total of 29 that was matched by Stenson, Smith, Scottie Scheffler and Oliver Wilson.

Only three players could beat that aggregate. Louis Oosthuizen, the Champion Golfer in 2010, was five-under on 17 and 18, while Laurie Canter and Cameron Young played the holes in four-under, the latter parring 17 and birdieing 18 in each round.

More from The 151st Open