Road Hole Is An A-Hole: Open Championship 2015

The Road Hole is an a-hole, Tiger Woods isn’t Tiger Woods anymore and other lessons learned now that we’re halfway through the Open Championship, aka British Open 2015. Report.

 

aNewDomainrodney-campbell-anewdomain — It took three days, but we’re finally halfway through the Open Championship in Scotland. What have we learned through the first two rounds at the Old Course at St. Andrews?

You can’t faze Dustin Johnson

A lesser player would have gone into a shell after Johnson’s disappointing finish to the U.S. Open. Everyone remembers his three-putt from 12 feet to lose out on either the outright title or a playoff with eventual winner Jordan Spieth.

Johnson has come back strong at the Open. He’s on top of the leaderboard at 10-under par, one shot up on one-time leader Danny Willett. There are 20 players within five shots of the lead entering the third round, including Spieth. As everyone knows, Spieth is shooting for his third consecutive major title.

The Road Hole is an a-hole

The par-4 17th hole is playing at a 4.679 average, easily the largest differential on the course. Next toughest is the par-4 16th, which is playing 4.266.

During the first round, 156 players took on the Road Hole and not a single one recorded a birdie. Only 35 managed par.

The Road Hole earned its name because of the road that runs along the back and side of the green. The historic Old Course Hotel is an imposing site off the tee box, getting in the way of amateurs’ first shots. The hotel’s windows are made of bullet-proof glass.

Even the pros are struggling with it, mostly because of a bunker on the left front of the green that collects wayward shots. Two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson blew up there in the second round, taking a triple bogey in the second round, bad enough to keep him from making the cut.

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Tiger Woods isn’t Tiger Woods

Maybe he’s just a new Tiger Woods. A much less talented one. Just a few months short of his fortieth birthday, Woods missed the cut by an amazing seven shots. He had three birdies in two rounds.

“The golf course didn’t play that hard,” Woods said after the second round. “I just didn’t get anything out of my two rounds. It’s frustrating.”

Woods has missed the cut in three of his last four majors, the lone exception being this year’s Masters, where he finished tied for 17th. He made the cut in his first 37 majors as a pro.

His struggles have dropped him to an unimaginable No. 254 in the world. He has spent a record 683 weeks in the No. 1 spot; Greg Norman is second at 331.

Woods’ next start comes at the Quicken Loans National in two weeks.

No one knows what to expect.

Saturday’s play should have never started

Weather problems and the Open Championship go together like fish and chips. But we haven’t seen a day like Saturday in ages.

After 32 minutes of wild and windy conditions (gusts reached 40 mph), officials from the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews called play for what turned into more than a 10-hour delay. Rounds were finally completed at 9 p.m., putting the event at the halfway mark at last after a lengthy rain stoppage Friday.

Spieth three-putted the 14th hole during Saturday morning’s wind-blown brief play. Johnson bogeyed the same hole when the wind caught his putt and blew it off the green.

“Obviously, from our point of view, it didn’t seem like it was playable,” Spieth said to ESPN.

You think?

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Legends still create memories

Tom Watson, 65, and Nick Faldo, 58, made their final Open Championship appearances at St. Andrews. Watson has made his last Open start and Faldo has hinted that this could be his farewell.

Neither legend made the cut, each taking his final walk across the Swilcan Bridge on the 18th hole to much acclaim. Watson, a five-time winner of the event, barely got his second round in after a rain delay pushed back play substantially. Flashbulbs popped as Watson and his playing partners and caddies posed for photos in the closing darkness as the legendary American played his penultimate major. He says next years Masters will be his finale.

Faldo, much more Surly Nick than Sir Nick during his playing career, showed his lighter side by donning a the pastel yellow sweater (Brits call them jumpers) he wore during his 1987 Open win as he crossed the Swilcan Bridge. He admirably shot a 71 in the second round after stumbling to an 83 on the opening day.

Faldo is better known now as a golf commentator on CBS and Golf Channel. He has won six majors in his career, including three Open Championships.

“I’ve been 11 years on TV now, so I’m not going to be a golfer again,” Faldo told the BBC after the round.

Two rounds down with two to go. Play will continue into Monday for just the second time in the event’s 155-year history. Just as well. No one wants this to end.

For aNewDomain, I’m Rodney Campbell.

Photo of the Swilcan Bridge courtesy of Optograph, All Rights Reserved. Photo of Tiger Woods courtesy of Tim Hipps, Special to American Forces Press Service, U.S. Army, via defenselink.mil, All Rights Reserved; Photo of Tom Watson courtesy of Jonathan Palombo, All Rghts Reserved.

 

About the author

Rodney Campbell

Based in Phoenix, Rodney Campbell is a sportswriter and travel editor for aNewDomain and our sister pub, BreakingModern.