Mystery solved: Counting the bunkers at Royal Lytham

By Jason SobelJuly 17, 2012, 2:44 pm

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – Darren Clarke was seated in the interview room at Royal Lytham & St. Annes on Monday when a reporter asked the defending champion about the 205 bunkers on this course.

Immediately he perked up, a broad smile emerging across his face.

“You’ve just enlightened me to something,” he revealed. “I have the number 205 on my golf bag this week and I had no idea what it meant until now.”

Exactly 24 hours later, Tiger Woods perched himself in the very same seat and was posed with a similar yet un-identical question about the venue’s 206 bunkers.

“Is that what there are – 206?” he asked in response.

Valid question.

There has been some obvious confusion in the days leading up to the start of this week’s Open Championship – and it all has to do with the numbers game.

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Some reports list the bunker total at 205; others have it at 206. Does it matter? Well, maybe not in the grand scheme of determining a winner, but for the sake of accuracy throughout the week, of course it does.

So I figured, I’m decent at counting. I’ve got nothing better to do. And it’s a beautiful day for a rain-soaked slog through increasingly muddy conditions.

Walking and counting. Counting and walking. Sounds like an easy way to solve a major conundrum.

And so I set forth to find out whether there are exactly 205 or 206 bunkers at Royal Lytham.

The first one I encounter is so small you can barely stamp a footprint in it. Located 150 yards from the tee on the 205-yard, par-3 opening hole, unless a few 22-handicappers sneak into the Open and commence chunking, this should serve as nothing more than a landmark.

Onto the second bunker and – same thing. Located just a few yards beyond the first, this one has all the usefulness of a donated appendix. Boy, if they’re all this benign and out of the way, then maybe this course isn’t so…

Whoa. Hold that thought.

That’s because the first green is guarded by seven bunkers – Royal Lytham’s interpretation of team defense. Surrounded in all directions, the putting surface has all the charm of a picnic blanket lying in the middle of a beach. Or maybe a towel.

Time to keep walking before I start making sandcastles.

Another hole, another nontuple-bunkered layout. Unlike the opener, though, the par-4 second hole has only four around its green, which means they’re more spread out. Sort of like expanding the search party for a missing person. Fittingly, some players’ chances of winning could go missing here, too.

19, 20, 21…

The bunker count only increases the farther I traverse on the course. Ten on No. 3. Twelve on 4. Six on 5. Twelve on 6. It sounds like an Abbott and Costello sketch, only there’s nothing funny about these monsters.

On the par-5 seventh, there are 15 bunkers. The hole features a fairway narrower than most English side streets. If cars were driving it in opposite directions, one might have to pull over into the rough to let the other pass. Only problem? It would probably get stuck in one of the many bunkers that border the entirety of the fairway.

74, 75, 76…

Every bunker is technically a hazard, but some are obviously more hazardous than others. The par-5 11th owns a modest pair on the left side of the fairway that will catch any slightly pulled drive of 275-300 yards.

It’s one reason Woods says, “At any links golf course you've got to stay out of the bunkers, because you can't get to the green. That's just a fact. If you hit the ball in there, it's going to go up against the face, because it goes in there with some steam and you're pitching it out sideways or sometimes even backwards.”

110, 111, 112…

As the course methodically winds its way inward, the bunkers only seem to multiply like bunnies.

Fifteen on No. 13. Ten on 14. Thirteen on 15. Fourteen on 16.

Some are so diminutive that players will barely make note of them on the yardage book. Others are so immense you can lose a small child inside.

The one thing they have in common, though, is that none are untroublesome. Armed with steep faces and wet, packed sand, would-be contenders will need to avoid these traps – and yes, “traps” is an apt portrayal. Don’t be surprised if more than a few players describe their situations in bunkers as being “trapped.”

169, 170, 171…

“Not that I counted, but there's 17 on 18,” Bubba Watson said after an early practice round.

Maybe he should have counted. There are actually 19 on the penultimate hole, making it the official team leader on the Lytham squad.

And here’s where our mystery is solved.

The yardage book lists 20 bunkers on No. 17, but one that was supposed to be off the right fairway wasn’t built in time for the tournament, leaving it with a meager 19 instead.

I’ve spent vacations by the ocean that didn’t involve that much sand.

“I don't understand why there's that many,” Watson contended, “but they didn't ask me to design it.”

188, 189, 190…

The bunker bunch certainly doesn’t stop on the final hole.

The last of the 205 – in geological order – is a kidney-shaped bunker precariously resting two-thirds of the way back off the right side of the 18th green. Undoubtedly, after long days of avoiding and failing to avoid these traps, there are players who will find themselves one last time mired in the sand.

It will be no day at the beach, but then again these are supposed to be hazards. They are traps in the truest sense of the word.

All 205 of ‘em.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”