THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Tiger Woods has called the Old Course at St. Andrews his favorite course in the world and has proven it by twice winning the Open Championship there, but he’s not pleased about at least one impending change in the latest facelift to the famed links.
During a pre-tournament news conference in advance of this week’s World Challenge, the event’s host staunchly disapproved of alterations to the 17th hole – famously known worldwide as the Road Hole.
“I think 17 is hard enough as it is,” said Woods, who carded two pars and two bogeys on the hole when it hosted the Open Championship two years ago. “I don't think we need to make that bunker any deeper or bigger. I know they experimented in 2000, I believe, they made the bunker deeper, then I think it was in '10 they made it more expansive, so it was not as deep, but more balls would collect into it. They seem to keep changing 17 a lot. It's a pretty hard hole. I think it's the hardest one on that whole property.
“I don't know, I'm not real keen on that one, but it is a hard hole, period, either way, whether they make changes or not. It's going to be a hard hole, a pivotal hole. I know over the years they've changed the rough lines on that hole quite a bit and given us fairway to the right which we've never had. Granted, now we've got to take it more towards the hotel, but at least it gives us an angle to play down the green, which is nice.”
Woods didn’t take issue with all of the changes being made to the Old Course, though. He noted two in particular as being sensible decisions.
“At 2, I believe, [they are] moving the bunkers more in where they're more playable,” he said. “We do use the pin over there on the back right, and if we get a left-to-right wind, those bunkers really aren't in play because they're too close to the third tee. But I can see by moving those closer to the green that if we get in a left-to-right wind, those bunkers now are in play, which is good, because that's our miss anyways is that back pin over that bowl, over that big hump to give yourself an angle at that putt. I believe that's a positive change. Same thing at 9 – that's a good change.”
Architect Martin Hawtree is reportedly making alterations to nine of the holes on the course that has staged the Open Championship a record 28 times.