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The 2006 British Open at Royal Liverpool – Roll up for the Mystery Tour

Everybody sing it with me! (Cue Tambourines)

Roll Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup!

Roll up for the mystery tour!

Yes members at Royal Liverpool are also singing (“Get Back to where you once belonged”?:) Beatles metaphors are everywhere and the tournament is looking to be similar to those held at nearby Royal Lytham and St, Annes (think deep, rivoted, sod faced bunkers) – only with lots of OB. But it really is a mystery tour this year since we go into tomorrows tournament with so many questions.

The weather forecast called for the following wind patterns Thurs-Sun – 3MPH, 3MPH, 10MPH, 3MPH. This course is set to play the lead in another quinessential contribution to world culture – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Perhaps excepting only Muirfield, no Open Rota course plays to such extremes depending on wind severity. St. George’s and Carnoustie are bears no matter what the wind. St. Andrews, Turnberry and Royal Birkdale are fair even in tempests. But Hoylake is at the Mersey…err…mercy of the winds. If they are light, as Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie echoed, the course will play short and the tourney will become a snooker game, not a lawn darts compatition as everything is playing so fast and firm.

If the wind does kick up, the OB – so prominent on ten holes, more OB than any other Open Rota course – will act like a magnet and scores will suddenly approach the staggering numbers of Carnoustie and the third round at Muirfield in 2002.

Finally, the course is relatively short to begin with and even though fairways pinch in the landing area, length through the bag (Woods, Singh, Mickelson, Goosen) will be rewarded. Finally, Woods provided an interesting comment. When speaking earlier in the year to R&A officials, Woods asked how severe the greens were, noting “I don’t like elephant burial mounds.”

Hello, Tiger? You have won on two of the most diabolical sets of greens in Christendom – Augusta and Sawgrass. Why should you fear elephant burial mounds?

Irrespective of Woods wishing a month early for Medinah’s bland greens (and holes too) while the greens are mildly interesting, the bunkering is eerily reminiscent of the murderous pits of nearby Royal Lytham. “They are like 197 little ponds” said Peter Alliss describing RLSA and the analogy of 90 or so little ponds here at Hoylake is not far off the mark. with the sand level dead flat at the base of sod walls, we’ll see plenty of sideways chip outs instead of shots attcking the pin. Bunker to bunker here is not out of the question.

Still, the par-5s are all reachable in two by everyone in the field. This should also inflate scores. Long hitters get a break again as they will hit lofted club approaches.

So many questions, only four days. Strap yourself in. It’s a long and winding road till Sunday night.

Interesting random note no. 1: Next years major schedule is frightening! Severe Oakmont hosts the U.S. Open. The King Kong of golf courses – Carnoustie – hosts the British and that cloying blast furnace Southern Hills hosts the PGA. Who put that schedule together and what the hell did his wife say to him to put him in such a mood?!

Intersting random note no. 2: In Tuesday’s prep piece I overlooked mentioning Michael Campbell has expressed confidence of late and Retief Goosen has made progress with a Belgian sports psychologist. Both could break out this week due to string long games, solid short putting, excellent course management on links courses and past major experience. Sleeper pick? Aaron Oberholser

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