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[Golf] The British Open: A Battle Against Nature

Posted July. 14, 2010 12:41,   


Every single stone and weed seem to contain the legacy of the British Open golf tournament, with the intense battle with nature to commence on a barren plain amid gusty winds when the 139th edition of the competition starts Wednesday.

The annual competition, which will take place alternately at nine golf courses including those in Scotland and England, will be held on Old House at St. Andrews this year. This is a sacred place of golf that a golfer must make a pilgrimage to at least once in a lifetime.

This year will also mark the British Open’s 150th anniversary.

○ Infamous par-4 17th hole extended to 495 yards

The 18th hole at Swilcan Bridge is famous for the Club House building with its ancient look and as a site for commemorative photo taking. The Old Course boasts splendid scenery but has built up infamy event after event.

U.S. golfer Bobby Jones, known as the sage of golf, finished the first half of the third round at 46 par, committed double par on the 11th (par 3), tore up his scorecard, packed up and went home in the 1921 tournament, among other famous episodes.

At this year’s tournament, the 17th hole is considered the biggest challenge. This hole is nicknamed “road hole,” meaning a “path to hell.” The jar-shaped bunker is 180 centimeters deep, deeper than an average man’s height, and the rough is knee deep.

This year, the organizer increased the tee-off box 40 yards and thus the full range of this hole extends as much as 495 yards.

Phil Mickelson said he will not care much if he bogeys the 17th, expressing despair.

The course is also infamous for gusty winds. Players had to stop practice rounds Sunday due to winds of up to 80 kilometers.

○ Tiger aims for third win

Tiger Woods kissed the Claret Jug, the wine glass given to the winner of this tournament, in 2000 and 2005. Since he is 0-6 in tournaments after his sex scandal erupted in November last year, he seeks to rebound through the event.

If he wins his third British Open and 15th major, he will become the first to win three titles at the Old Course. Despite his cold streak, Woods is the oddsmakers’ pick as the strongest contender as a 3.5-to-one bet.

○ Record 9 ethnic Korean golfers to compete

A record nine ethnic Korean golfers will compete in this year’s British Open, including K.J. Choi and Y.E. Yang. Kim Kyung-tae was invited given his No. 3 ranking on the Japanese pro tour.

Korean Americans Kevin Na and Noh Seung-yul will also take part.

Three amateurs will also enjoy the honor of playing in the world’s oldest golf tournament. Eric Chun qualified in the regional preliminary; An Byeong-hun won the U.S. Amateur Championship last year; and Jin Jeong became the first Asian to claim the British Amateur Championship last month.