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Open Championship: A hole-by-hole guide to conquering Muirfield

by Sean Goff | July 16, 2013
Ernie Els

YOU THE MAN: Ernie Els with the Claret Jug Adam Scott gifted him last year

Hole-by- hole guide | Open Championship 2013

The starter calls your name and that feeling in your stomach you can’t quite place is in danger of running down your leg.

It all seemed so easy when you were on Twitter saying how great the course looks, dropping into GMac-speak about how confident you are about your game ‘right now’.

Staring steely-eyed down the first fairway you try to ignore the gale force winds flapping around those ridiculously coloured pants you thought would upstage Ian Poulter – but just make you look a twat.

Deep breath, practice swing and BOOM!  Your Open Championship 2013 is a go.

Muirfield

Hole 1 | Par 4 | Yards 447

Peter Senor (Aus), Lloyd Saltman (Sco) and Oliver Fisher (Eng)  are first up at 6.32am and they’ll swagger to the tee like men who know a global audience of millions have yet to tune it. Ideally, they’ll want their tee shot to land 280 yards down the fairway to avoid the new sand trap. You’ve a clear view then to the narrow green and a very par-able opening hole.

Hole 2 | Par 4 | Yards 364

An accurate iron and wedge shot at the shortest par 4 on the course could get you your 15 mins of fame on the early news bulletins. Don’t miss the green on the right though or you’ll be spending more time in the sand than a weekend in Benidorm with four Muirfield bad boys that haven’t been fed since 2002.

Hole 3 | Par 4 |Yards 377

This isn’t so bad you tell yourself as an accurate tee shot and a wedge leaves you in birdie territory again. Or so you think.  Slip out the back-door and three not-so-sleepy hollows lie between you and the pin.

Hole 4 |Par 3 |Yards 226

So far, so Tiger Woods, as the driver stays in the bag. The dance-floor is reachable from the tee – if you’re careful. Miss it left or right and you’ll be in the rough with a one-way ticket on the bogey bus at the longest par three on the course.

Hole 5 |Par 5 |Yards 559

Go big or go home! The first of the par 5s that could make-or-break the bombers off the tee. Split the fairway and you’re half-way there. With the wind at your back we’re talking eagle. Miss the fairway left or right and we’re talking counselling. Expect one or all of group 13 featuring long hitters Bubba Watson, Nicolas Colsaerts and Dustin Johnson to show you how it’s done.

Hole 6 |Par 4 |Yards 461

The Index 1 in many people’s eyes as players face a blind shot onto the fairway. Judging the approach to the greens is even trickier than asking Rory McIlroy if the move to Nike was a good idea. Get to the seventh tee unscathed and congratulate yourself on a job well done.  A third of your round is complete.

Hole 7 | Par 3 | Yards 184

With a green that’s more closely guarded than Justin Bieber’s hotel room – club selection is the name of the game. A good tee shot and it might be birdie time again. A bad one and you’ll be very glad of a par.

Hole 8 | Par 4 | Yards 441

A dog-leg left that can p*** all over your Open dreams. You need to carry a cluster of sand traps  280 yards from the tee to get sight-lines to the dance floor. Lie up and you risk bringing the bunkers just shy of the green into play – particularly if Mother Nature’s having an off-day.

Hole 9 |Par 5 | Yards 554

Your heavily-branded thinking cap is needed to avoid the hazards. Out-of-bounds runs all the way down the left – but approach shots fired to the right of the green bring in five strategically-placed bunkers.  This is no time for indecision Padraig Harrington  – you’re half-way there.

ON THE PROWL: Tiger's got his 'A' game back

ON THE PROWL: Tiger’s chasing his fourth Open Championship this week  (pic: Inpho)

Hole 10  | Par 4  | Yards 469

The hard work starts as you approach the green on the ‘blind’.  Miss the first set of sand traps and your life will be a lot easier. Find them and you’ll be left scrambling like Sergio Garcia at a Wentworth press conference – to save par.

Hole 11 | Par 4  | Yards 387

Another ‘blind’ drive favours the ‘grip it and rip it’ merchants – provided they’re accurate. Fairway bunkers to the left and right are manageable but seven guard the small heart-shaped green. Straight and true is best, GMac.

Hole 12 |Par 4 | Yards 379

There’s a decision to be made here. Lay-up drives will bring the green into play and leave you two putts to safety and the chance to regroup as you face the final six holes. Not something that may fill Adam Scott with confidence after last year’s collapse at Royal Lytham. But the Aussie’s a Masters champion now.

Hole 13 | Par 3 | Yards 190

Unlucky for some as five deep bunkers and deep rough protect an elusive, narrow target. More Robin Van Persie than Fernando Torres accuracy needed to pull this off.

Hole 14 | Par 4 | Yards 475

One of the toughest par fours on the home stretch as you hit into the wind – particularly onerous when trying to reach a plateau green that falls away on all sides. Expect last-day contenders to play it safer here than Stoke’s back four as the Claret Jug loom into view.

Hole 15 | Par 4 | Yards 448

A dog-leg right nicknamed the Camel’s Back – never a good sign – because of the contours in the green. A three-putters’ paradise when you least need it. Phil Mickelson beware.

Hole 16 | Par 3 | Yards 186

A Jagerbomb night out of a hole that can lead you into a false sense of security.  Put in on the dance floor and take it from there. Any short cuts will get you in trouble. Big trouble.

Hole 17 | Par 5 | Yards 575

The boomers – if they haven’t already had their spirits broken  –  will fancy their chances of reaching the green in two. Two putts from there and the engraver could be googling your name Kenichi Kuboya.

Hole  18 | Par 4 | Yards 470

One of the great finishing holes in golf and a real test of nerve. The wind will push the ball left to the fairway bunkers. A four here could win you the Open for a fourth time, Tiger. But will your elbow hold up if you’ve been hacking it out of the rough all day?

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