Tuesday, July 20, 2010

RandA declares Open a success and puts faith in Old Course

The 150th anniversary Open Championship has been hailed a success by the R and A despite the cancellation of the Champions' Challenge, criticism of a decision to suspend play, revenue lost from a reduced attendance, and the Old Course producing a shock winner.
Speaking at the traditional debriefing, R and A chief executive Peter Dawson, pictured right by Cal Carson Golf Agency, and Michael Brown, chairman of the championship committee, were both upbeat about the celebratory occasion at the home of golf, where, subject to confirmation, the event is likely to return again in 2015.
If that is the case, the world's top players won't have to deal with more changes to the Old Course like the controversial new tee built at the Road Hole for this year's event, with Dawson insisting it would be unthinkable to even contemplate changing the 18th, which virtually played as a long par-3 as South African Louis Oosthuizen strolled to his seven-shot success.
"We have a new a very worthy champion in Louis Oosthuizen, who played tremendous golf under pressure and, in the end, won with some comfort," said Brown. "I'm also well pleased with the attendance of 201,000 (compared to 230,000 in 2000 and 223,000 in 2005]. In the circumstances of the economy and the absolutely foul weather we had at the beginning of the week, we'd regard that as a very satisfactory attendance."
On the decision to suspend play for an hour on Friday, he added: "Balls were moving in such numbers (on the greens] at the far end of the course that to ask players to continue was not reasonable, so I'm perfectly happy about that.
"I'm aware there were one or two comments from players. But the weathermen and the recorded wind speeds were behind all the decisions we made."
For most of the week, the conditions meant the last hole played easier than it probably ever has in the Open Championship. Its scoring average for the week was 3.36, with a total of 16 eagles and 186 birdies.
However, Dawson insisted the R and A is "happy with it" and ruled out any attempt to toughen up the hole for the next Open at the home of golf.
"I think you'd have your legs cut off if you contemplated that," he suggested. "The 18th played downwind substantially all week and, therefore, was playing short. But, short though it may be, it does serve to split players. You've still got to make your 3, or in the odd case a 2, and a 4 just won't do downwind. It's still a very famous hole here so there are no plans to change the 18th. In fact, we don't even have any embryonic plans for lengthening the course any further."
As always, the Road Hole proved the toughest on the course, with a scoring average of 4.665 for the week and 4.97 in the final round.

Editor's Note: Why was it OK to make changes to the 17th Road Hole but it is "unthinkable" to do anything to the 18th - the blandest, easiest par-4 finishing hole in Major venue golf?



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