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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 202
Tiger Woods ran up a triple-bogey at the ‘Stamp’ during the 1997 Open, while Ernie Els aced it on his way to a playoff loss last time in 2004. Any and every number between the South African’s one and the American’s six is realistic there again this week. No other hole at Royal Troon is as straightforward yet none is as mystifying. Troon’s generosity begins early, with three modest-length par-4s to open that play with the wind most days. Beyond them lie two eminently reachable par-5s at the 4th and 6th as more red numbers beckon. In his final-round charge at the 1989 Open at Troon, Greg Norman birdied all six holes on his way to a 64. The diminutive 8th stems the tide ahead of the heavyweight bout that is the back nine. Most demanding is the 483-yard (442-metre) par-4 11th, which until ’89 played as a par-5. Flanked by impenetrable gorse bush lining both sides of the fairway and a railway line along the right that edges ever nearer to the playing line (the stone wall separating the course from the sleepers is a mere pace or two from the margin of the green), No.11 is sure to finish as the toughest hole of Open week. Long, difficult, into-the-wind par-4s loom at 13 and 15, the latter with a newly realigned tee to place the fairway at an oblique angle, precede the best hope of a homeward birdie at the par-5 16th. Even then the task is thwarted by a burn crossing the fairway in the driving zone that can force a less-than-driver selection from the tee. The 17th is a long, bunker-riddled par-3 before another stiff par- 4 to close with bunkers dotting the landing zones and an uncomfortably close stone path at the rear of the green ringing the clubhouse that serves as out-of-bounds. Americans own a six-Open winning streak at Troon, dating back to 1962. Todd Hamilton toppled Els last time, in 2004, with the Texan golfer heard from little beforehand nor since. Justin Leonard’s lone major came at the Scottish links in 1997 after two Queenslanders were toppled by a gutsy but fluky Mark Calcavecchia eight years earlier. Wayne Grady led from the outset with Norman’s 64 forcing a tie between all three. In The Open’s first four-hole aggregate playoff, the Shark birdied the first two holes and was tied with Calcavecchia playing the 18th where he busted a huge drive into a fairway bunker no one else had reached all week. Norman’s chances evaporated instantly. Prior to ’89, two Toms – Watson and Weiskopf – triumphed at Troon after Arnold Palmer’s second straight Open crown in ’62. You have to go back to South African Bobby Locke in 1950 to find a non-American winner. There is no point searching for an Australian victor at Troon as there is yet to be one, Grady and Norman 27 years ago coming closest. May this be the year that changes. E AMERICANS OWN A SIX-OPEN WINNING STREAK AT TROON, DATING BACK TO 1962. EXPERIENCE THE THRILL OF A ROYAL TROON FLYOVER IN THIS VIDEO.
GA Express 201
GA Express 203