Put simply, the only Open venue I consider more suited to Tiger’s game is the Old Course itself. Woods does not know this yet, at least not as I write, for he, has never played serious golf at Turnberry as they were all too young when the old battleground was being fought over previously.
In this sense at least, everyone starts just a tad more equal than is usually the case. Will it make much difference? No, not really but the big point here is that it just might and in a game where a single shot can offer up the opportunity for glorious victory or eternal regret it is worth noting.
Even those who have some previous knowledge will bump up against a lot of new stuff. Most holes have been worked on but the really serious stuff has taken place at the 10th, 16th and 17th. The 10th has a new and spectacular tee by the side of the lighthouse and requires a 200-yard carry over rocks and beach to reach the fairway. The fairway itself has been taken closer to the sea to encourage longer hitters to go for an even longer carry.
The 16th has been turned into a dogleg right, the fairway shifted hugely, the old bunker guarding the left hand side of the fairway now protecting the right and this neatly allows a new tee for the 17th that adds 61 yards to that hole. In all, the course is now 7,204 yards long or 247 yards longer than it was.
More impressively perhaps, a total of 23 bunkers has been added taking the tally to 65. This is roughly half the number of bunkers to be found at the other Open venues and is a testimony to the challenge offered by the landscape of the Ayrshire coastline.
I played the new course late last year and proudly made the carry over the first set of rocks off the new tenth tee. Sadly I didn’t make it over the second set. Sergio Garcia who watched this feeble effort then whacked his ball not only 100 yards further but into the very middle of the fairway.
Was this an early sign of things to come? I do hope so. There are many players who may claim that they go into this Open with a more than slightly serious shout and I’m sure you know them all, but nothing would please me more than to see Garcia finally knock one of these things off. Why? Well, I like him in the manner of a father liking a naughty child and, anyway, he is genuinely talented and definitely overdue a Major.