Royal St Georges lengthened for British Open


SANDWICH, England – The Royal St. George’s course will be 100 yards longer for this year’s British Open, with par being reduced from 71 to 70.

Organizers say the famous fourth hole – with a huge bunker staring players in the face as they tee off – is being changed from a 497-yard par 5 to a 495-yard par 4.

The third hole will be increased by 30 yards to 240 yards, while the long seventh goes from 532 to 564 yards and the ninth from 388 to 412 yards. In the main alteration on the back nine, the 15th will be stretched from 475 yards to a 496-yard par 4.

Eight years ago, American winner Ben Curtis was the only player to break par at the course, and only by one shot. The previous time, in 1983, Greg Norman set a championship record of 13-under 267.

In another change, the fairway on the first hole has been widened by about 12 yards. In 2003, Tiger Woods lost a ball with his first shot at Royal St. George’s and took a triple-bogey 7.

Less than 30 percent of all drives finished on the fairway in 2003.

“Tiger’s lost ball was not an influence – it was the overall statistic of 27-28 percent,” Royal & Ancient Club chief executive Peter Dawson said.