HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Memories from the last British Open at Royal Liverpool mainly involve Tiger Woods hitting only one driver over 72 holes on his way to an 18-under 270 and a two-shot victory. The links course was brown, fiery and fast.
Overlooked by his club selection was the real secret to Hoylake, it is the only links course in the rotation with four par 5s.
“I think that’s the one thing we’re all looking at, if we can take advantage of the par 5s,” Adam Scott said Tuesday. “There’s a real opportunity for a low score out there with some good golf on the other 14 holes. And it’s going to be a big part of the strategy of how we’re playing, I think. If you’re swinging well and you can get a driver in the fairway down the par 5s, they’re almost par 4s.”
The fifth hole played into the wind Tuesday at 528 yards. Woods hit driver, yes, driver, and a fairway metal into the front bunker. Hunter Mahan reached in two. The 10th hole (532 yards) was played with a right-to-left wind, while the 16th (577 yards) and the 18th (551 yards) were downwind.
“I think the par 5s are a big key this week,” Rory McIlroy said. “There are four really good opportunities to make birdies out here. Par 5s are going to be crucial. And then there’s a couple of tough holes on the back nine, if you can just sort of make par there you’re going to do well. Yeah, par-5s. There’s a few birdie opportunities on this course, and you want to try to make as many birdies as you can on those holes.”
McIlroy is quite the historian for a 25-year-old from Northern Ireland. Even though he still was an amateur in 2006 and was in Spain on a holiday with his family during the last Open at Liverpool, he remembers how Woods fared on the par 5s.
Woods played them in 13-under par for the week.
SCOTT STAYING LONG: Mo Martin won the Women’s British Open last week using a conventional putter, which was worth noting. Her father told her to use a long putter when she first started playing at age 6 because he thought it would make the game easier.
That’s all Martin ever knew. But when the R&A and USGA announced last year that an anchored putting stroke used with long putters would be banned starting in 2016, Martin knew the end was year. Last year at St. Andrews, she tinkered with a short putter and coach Ian Triggs told her that her stroke looked better with a regular putter.
Martin switched for good this year, and captured her first major at Royal Birkdale last week.
So what’s in store for Adam Scott? Nothing at the moment. Scott is the only player to win a major with a broom-handled putter, Keegan Bradley, Ernie Els and Webb Simpson all used a belly putter, when he won the Masters. He has said he won’t change until it’s time, and Scott is not about to do it sooner.
“I haven’t messed with it at all,” Scott said. “I thought I’d worry about that when I have to change. And I would say I’d completely agree with her coach, that I’m sure her stroke is better, because I think mine would be, as well, if I went back to the short one.”
WHO’S NO. 1?: Adam Scott went to No. 1 in the world in May, and then won his next tournament at Colonial. He has been atop the world ranking for two months now, though that position is up for grabs at a major.
Early projections suggest that Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson and Jason Day have a mathematical chance to reach No. 1 by winning the British Open. Day at No. 6 would have a chance over Matt Kuchar at No. 5 because the Australian has been injured, and so his tournament divisor is lower.
Rose is No. 3, the same spot he was in last year. But that was when Tiger Woods was more entrenched at No. 1. For Rose to reach the top, he would have to win and Scott would have to finish somewhere out of the top 40.
But at least it’s a chance, and one he’s not spending a lot of time worrying about.
“I’ve always said for me, I’ve always focused more on winning major championships … than chasing No. 1,” Rose said. “I think that’s just a really nice byproduct of your process and improving as a golfer. So if it happens, it happens. Right now, I’m focused on this week. And the fact that gives me the opportunity, then brilliant. But it’s really not front and center right now.”
ONE-HIT WONDERS: Martin Kaymer talked about the importance of validating his PGA Championship in 2010 by winning the U.S. Open last month at Pinehurst No. 2. He did not want to be regarded as a one-hit wonder.
Such a term was in play a generation ago when good players never won more than one major.
Graeme McDowell mentioned it Tuesday. He captured the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2010, and he has missed out on two chances since then. McDowell was runner-up at the U.S. Open two years ago at Olympic Club, and he was in the mix at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in the British Open in 2012.
“I want to give myself as many opportunities as I can to win majors,” McDowell said. “It’s hard to win. Week in, week out, there’s so many great players in the world. Winning regular tournaments is hard enough. Winning the majors is something different, something special.”
Indeed, the notion of one-hit wonders is different now. Nineteen players have won the last 24 majors dating to Tiger Woods’ last major win in the 2008 U.S. Open.
McDowell eventually came around to a different perspective. “As long as I can give my career 100 percent the next ten years, I’m not going to view my career as anything but a success, really,” he said. “But I guess what I’m saying is I’m more motivated than ever to win major championships.”