Hoylake's New 17, a potential drama factory


Hoylake's New 17, a potential drama factory
Hoylake's New 17, a potential drama factory

It took 39 years from the victory of Argentina's Roberto De Vicenzo, the first South American British Open champion, in 1967, until Royal Liverpool was deemed fit to return to the tournament's rotation in 2006. The course had fallen short, unable to hold its own against the increasing distances played by players, and had to undertake a reform that included buying new land and upgrading its infrastructure to accommodate the needs of the R&A.

Royal Liverpool, history

The next big change that has occurred in Hoylake is the talk these days among the players and the Press displaced to the last big one of the year. This is the 17th hole, a newly built hole that has displaced the old 17 and 16, now 16 and 15 respectively.

A 124-metre par 3 overlooking the Irish Sea, with a devilish little green, well protected by bunkers to the front, left and right, some more than 3.5 meters deep, and a beach behind. A deadly trap on the penultimate hole of the course, a potential drama factory arrived on Sunday.

Fair or unfair? This is what they asked Jon Rahm on Tuesday at his press conference. “The 17th, downhill, short, exposed to the wind... They have built a par 3 that is a very difficult test. If you miss the green you are a candidate for bogey.

It's hard to say if it's a fair hole or not. I think it is, because it's the same hole for everyone. You have to deal with it,” he explained. “There is no good place if you miss the green”, commented the Spaniard Nacho Elvira on Tuesday on the practice green.

Hardly a golfer these days has left the Media Center without offering his impressions of the creature. “It's an interesting hole. It depends on the wind. If it touches you crossed, it is interesting. I am a big fan of short and difficult par 3s, exactly like this one.

I don't like long ones, they are boring. You know it's a 3-iron and we all hit it in the same place. All the great par 3s in the world are 165 yards (150 meters) or less: Augusta's 12, Sawgrass' 17... You can easily walk away from them with a 5, and I like that”, said Brooks Koepka.

“You just have to hit a really good shot. And if not, I think missing on the left is slightly better than missing on the right. The bunker on the right is very bloody. I'm going to try to hit a good shot. There's not much else you can do," Scottie Scheffler said with overwhelming logic.

Another of Royal Liverpool's defenses is in the bunkers, which have been raked in a special way, with thicker bites than usual and certain slopes that produce more complicated lies. “The ball gets stuck inside the slots of the rake.

Definitely not a good lie,” Korean-American Michael Kim complained on Twitter on Tuesday. Josele Ballester, the Spanish amateur who is playing his first major this week, on the other hand, feels comfortable with these obstacles: “At the moment I see them well.

Yesterday (by Tuesday) and the day before better, because it rained a little and for my taste it makes them a little easier. But the raking is noticeable, which is sometimes a little more uncomfortable. And in bunkers like the one at 10 or 17, either it fits perfectly or you suffer”, he told part of the Spanish press this Wednesday during his practice lap.

But perhaps the most unsuspected danger is the internal out of bounds on this course, something unusual, although it was also established at Oak Hill at this year's PGA, which is used in certain layouts to prevent players from taking shortcuts by hitting the fairway of a different hole than the one they are playing.

In Hoylake, it affects streets 3 and 18, protecting the area that is normally used as a driving range, these days converted into a hospitality zone. An extra challenge on the last hole of the course, since falling into that area means losing a shot.