HOYLAKE, England — Memories from the last British Open at Royal Liverpool mainly involve Tiger Woods hitting only one driver over 72 holes on his way to an 18-under 270 and a two-shot victory. The links course was brown, fiery and fast.
Overlooked by his club selection was the real secret to Hoylake — it is the only links course in the rotation with four par 5s.
“I think that’s the one thing we’re all looking at — if we can take advantage of the par 5s,” Adam Scott said Tuesday. “There’s a real opportunity for a low score out there with some good golf on the other 14 holes. And it’s going to be a big part of the strategy of how we’re playing, I think. If you’re swinging well and you can get a driver in the fairway down the par 5s, they’re almost par 4s.”
The fifth hole played into the wind Tuesday at 528 yards. Woods hit driver — yes, driver — and a fairway metal into the front bunker. Hunter Mahan reached in two. The 10th hole (532 yards) was played with a right-to-left wind, while the 16th (577 yards) and the 18th (551 yards) were downwind.
“I think the par 5s are a big key this week,” Rory McIlroy said. “There are four really good opportunities to make birdies out here. Par 5s are going to be crucial. And then there’s a couple of tough holes on the back nine, if you can just sort of make par there you’re going to do well. Yeah, par-5s. There’s a few birdie opportunities on this course, and you want to try to make as many birdies as you can on those holes.”
McIlroy is quite the historian for a 25-year-old from Northern Ireland. Even though he still was an amateur in 2006 and was in Spain on a holiday with his family during the last Open at Liverpool, he remembers how Woods fared on the par 5s.