Many stories have come from the first day of the historic tournament, including an amateur Christo Lamprecht at Royal Liverpool’s Open Championship.
But one thing’s for sure: holes 17 and 18 at Royal Liverpool are a “monster,” according to Matt Fitzpatrick’s caddy, Billy Foster.
When the tournament opened on Thursday, the final two holes of the course were a nightmare for many golfers, as treacherous bunkers around the green took victims left and right.
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The first on 17 — a brand new, short par-3 at 138 yards — calls for an accurate tee shot that has a straight line to the pin. If not, the golfer will likely find himself in one of the bunkers positioned around the intended target.
Of course, with winds swirling around Hawaii Lake, it’s difficult to be as precise as the golfer would like.
Then, it’s time for a driver on the 599-yard 18th and final hole of the round. There are many out-of-bounds areas to deal with off the tee. More bunkers also await the golfer on his approach shots.
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“I would say it’s fair, because it’s unfair to everybody,” Jon Rahm told Yahoo! Said via Sports. “It’s like golf, and it’s life. Simple as that. We all have to play the same hole. If you hit a good shot, you’re definitely going to have a chance at birdie. If not, you’ll deal with it. I think you’re going for the championship on Sunday.”
“You have a one-shot lead, that hole could be crucial.”
Lucas Herbert learned quickly how difficult it is to avoid those bunkers on hole 17 when he aired his tee shot onto the green and said, “It’s very hard to feel the wind.” He ended up with a triple bogey after his first attempt out of the sand went bad, and he came into the hole with a 3-under lead.
Phil Mickelson was another who struggled on the 17th, finding it difficult to get out of the bunker on his first attempt.
For Brooks Koepka, though, he doesn’t mind the challenge and thinks the 17th is actually pretty fun.
“I love it,” she told Yahoo! the game. “I’m a big believer in short par-3s — make it hard, that’s all. I think all the best par-3s in the world that have ever been designed are 165 yards or shorter.
“Just don’t hit it there, and you won’t have a problem, okay?”
But the 18th saw some brutal tee shots and lies into the greenside bunkers by several golfers, including Rickie Fowler. The hospitality tent and room for spectators make it a tight tee shot, and Fowler found himself out of bounds not once but twice. He would end his round with a triple bogey to go 1-over on the day.
There was also the implosion of Justin Thomas, as his recent play in the majors continues. He scored a wicked quadruple bogey when he couldn’t stay out of the bunkers, hitting one after another and even deflecting a pitch shot.
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He is in danger of missing another crucial cut with the 82 he posted in his first round.
Rory McIlroy almost suffered the same fate as his peers when he was trapped in a bunker at 18. He tried to hit it the first time and failed, but with one foot in and one out on the grass, he managed to get his ball close to the hole with a chance to save par.
A fist pump came out after knocking it into the par putt, to end the day.
Normally, you don’t see this kind of reaction on the first day of any tournament, but that fist pump shows just how hard the job is for these golfers.
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These two finishing holes will continue to haunt the pros and amateurs for the next three days. But, as Rahim said, it’s all tolerable.