'Some doozies': Players face pin locations they've never seen before on Old Course

·3 min read

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Tyrrell Hatton has won along the Old Course, prevailing in the 2016 and '17 Dunhill Links Championship, which employs the ancient links as its host among its three-course rotation.

He doesn’t know if that will give him any advantage this weekend, seeing as the course plays significantly different in October than it does in July. But he does know one thing: if the amateurs that compete in the Dunhill had played the Old Course on Friday, they might be out there until Saturday.

“Have you saw some of those pins? During the Dunhill week, during the amateurs, it would be like 9-hour rounds. It would be brutal,” Hatton said after shooting 6-under 66 to enter the clubhouse at 8 under par.

Mark Calcavecchia, the 1989 Open champion, was making his 31st and final start in the Open this week. Friday was his 100th round in this championship, and the 62-year-old said he managed to experience a first.

“There's some hole locations that I've never seen before here, and I played here a lot,” he said. “There's some doozies.”

This, however, wasn’t a case of the superintendent being ornery. This was a case of protecting a near-defenseless golf course. With overnight and early-morning rain, combined with little wind, the Old Course was there for the taking in Round 2. All it could do in its battle against the modern game was be as inaccessible as possible.

“The R&A set it up with some pretty tricky pins, Some new ones. Made it a little more difficult,” said three-time Open champ Tiger Woods, who shot 75. “Obviously a lot more difficult on me than the others.”

Though there was plenty of red on the board on Friday, no one among the early groups shot better than 65 and Cameron Smith had the lowest score of the day, a 64. There was no threat of 59. Good play was rewarded and the layout held its own.

Full-field scores from the 150th Open Championship

Talor Gooch, who shot 69, said the pin locations were “really, really challenging.” Henrik Stenson, the 2017 Open champ who shot 70 on Friday, echoed that, adding, “There are some pins that are even tougher or trickier I think, than we've seen in the past.”

In particular?

“[No.] 12, for instance, I don't think we've seen it quite up that far on the shelf. There's not much around it,” Stenson said.

“I thought 12 was pretty juicy today,” Hatton said. “[No.] 16 is an interesting one as well. It's kind of cut on top of a bowl. Even Joaquin [Niemann], where he was putting from, had a tiny bit of pace but suddenly it's got left of the pin and he's got a 20-foot(er) for par. So that's perhaps a little bit dicy.”

When conditions are calm at the Old Course, dicey can become necessity.