Birdies are rare. Bogeys are acceptable.
“I don’t mind making a 5 on the 17th,” Masters champion Phil Mickelson said.
Geoff Ogilvy tends to lean on the advice of five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson who said he would aim for the front right portion of the green all four days, no matter where the flag was.
“He used to say if made two 4s and 2 5s, you haven’t lost anything to the field,” Ogilvy said. “I don’t think that’s changed.”
The R&A expects controversy, or at the very least complaints. That’s typical of any change, especially one that lengthens the hole. So far, the change has been accepted.
“I think it’s a really good improvement,” Lee Westwood said.
That’s not to say it has been approved.
“I don’t mind the length of the hole,” Ogilvy said. “I just wish they didn’t have to do it.”
Ogilvy’s biggest beef is the punishment on a 495-yard hole by missing the fairway to the left. The rough doesn’t look any different from the rest of the Old Course, with its wispy strands of shin-high native grass. It’s what is underneath that is so troubling. The grass is green and dense, and it makes it difficult to find a stray tee shot, much less hit it.
“The don’t like the left rough,” Ogilvy said. “Not that it’s rough, but that it’s in the state it’s in. It’s the only patch of dark, green rough on the course. I don’t think it’s like that anywhere else.”
And he doesn’t think that’s a coincidence.
The one hope for the players _ if you can call it that _ is a notice from the R&A that the previous tee might be used if the wind is too strong into the face. Then, it might be tough to even reach the fairway.
Otherwise, complaints have been minimal, perhaps because the line off the tee has not changed much. It’s still about picking the right letter and hitting the right shot.
“I went for the ‘d’ in ‘Old,’ Johnson said, and he hammered it into the middle of the fairway.
Eric Chun, a junior at Northwestern playing his first Open, hit a draw over the corner of the maintenance shed and wound up in deep rough. Verplank, not a power player by any stretch, showed him the way with a gentle draw over the “o” in hotel.