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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 250
Of all the championship courses on The Open rota, this is one that can really devour errant players. Most of Birkdale’s fairways are surrounded by high dunes covered in thick rough, so when the wind gets up it will make finding the short grass from the tee very tough, especially for the big hitters in the field. The conditions will also open the door for our Melbourne Sandbelt specialists – Matthew Griffin, Ash Hall and a reinvented Aaron Baddeley – to make their mark. Birkdale features plenty of bunkering and slightly raised putting surfaces, which bears some similarities to what can be found in parts of the famed Sandbelt and this Victorian threesome will feel right at home. The Sandbelt also teaches players to be creative when the wind is blowing, which Norman acknowledged back in 2008 when he hit 100- and 120-yard approaches with a 6- and 5-iron respectively. Such shots are part of the golfing DNA of the likes of Griffin, Hall and Baddeley (and Leishman, too, for that matter), which puts them one step ahead of many of the US-based players in the tournament. In all, 11 Australians – nearly 16 per cent of the field – will set out for Open glory on Thursday. In addition to those mentioned, there will be Olympian Scott Hend, Tasmanian Ryan McCarthy, South Australian Adam Bland and Queensland's Andrew Dodt in the field. C’mon Aussie! E AUSSIE CHANCES (L-R): Jason Day, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Aaron Baddeley and Ashley Hall lead the Australian push for another Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale. THE OPEN 2017: ROYAL BIRKDALE COURSE GUIDE
GA Express 249
GA Express 251