Many stories, including an amateur Christo Lamprecht tied for the lead, at Royal Liverpool’s The Open Championship stem from the first day of the historic tournament.
But one thing is for sure: the 17th and 18th holes at Royal Liverpool are an «eyesore», according to Matt Fitzpatrick’s caddy, Billy Foster.
When the tournament began on Thursday, the last two holes of the course were a nightmare for many golfers, as the treacherous bunkers around the green claimed victims left and right.
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The first at 17, a new short par 3 of 138 yards, demands a precise tee shot that has a direct line to the pin. Otherwise, the golfer is likely to find himself in one of the bunkers parked around the intended target.
Of course, with the winds blowing around Hoylake, it’s hard to be as precise as the golfer wants.
Then it’s the driver’s turn with a 599-yard 18th hole and the last hole for the round. There are multiple out of bounds areas to deal with off the tee. More bunkers also await the golfer on his approach shots.
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“I would say it’s fair, because it’s unfair to everyone,” Jon Rahm said via Yahoo! Sports before the tournament. “Like it’s golf and it’s life. Simple as that. We all have to play the same holes. If you hit a good shot, chances are you have a chance of making a birdie. If not, you will take care of it. I understand that you are going for that in a championship on Sunday.
«You have a one shot lead, that hole can be critical.»
Lucas Herbert quickly learned on the 17th hole how hard it is to escape those bunkers after he aired his tee shot onto the green, saying it was «pretty hard to feel the wind.» He finished with a triple bogey after his first attempt out of the sand went awry, and he entered the hole with a three-under-par lead.
Phil Mickelson was another who struggled on the 17th, also finding it difficult to get out of the bunker on his first attempt.
Brooks Koepka doesn’t mind the challenge, though, and thinks 17 is pretty fun.
«I like it,» he told Yahoo! Sports. «I’m a big believer in short par 3s – make it hard, exactly like that. I think all the best par 3s in the world ever designed are 165 yards or less.»
«Just don’t hit it there, and you won’t have any trouble, right?»
But the 18th saw some brutal tee shots and lies in the green bunkers of numerous golfers, including Rickie Fowler. The hospitality tents and space for spectators make it a tight tee shot, and Fowler found himself out of bounds not once, but twice. He would end his round with a triple bogey to go 1 over for the day.
There was also the implosion of Justin Thomas, as his recent play continues to falter in the majors. He hit a wicked quadruple bogey after he couldn’t stay out of the bunkers, batting from one to the next and even missing a shot.
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He is in danger of missing another big cut with an 82 posted in his first round.
Rory McIlroy nearly suffered the same fate as his teammates when he was trapped in the bunker at 18. He tried to bat the first time and missed, but with one leg inside and one leg on the grass outside, he managed to get his ball close to the hole with a chance to save for par.
A fist pump came out after he hit his par putt, ending even on the day.
You don’t normally see reactions like that on the first day of any tournament, but that fist bump shows just how hard it is for these golfers to get the job done.
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These final two holes will continue to plague these professionals and amateurs for the next three days. But, as Rahm said, it’s for everyone to bear.