To lift the famous Claret Jug at the Open Championship 2013, players must battle the course, their golfing rivals and the Scottish elements in the knowledge the slightest mistake can be a tournament ender.
Here we take a look at a few of the key components required to win on the Muirfield links.
Avoid Rough and Bunkers at All Costs
One trip into the waist-deep overgrowth or cavernous bunkers scattered across the Muirfield fairways can quickly lead to a monster score and dash your Open hopes. Whether it’s the thick rough on hole one or the new bunkers at eight and 10, this course requires a composed approach.
Your asking how the rough is at Muirfield. I thought it was Hay. Big tip for week Hit it on the mowed stuff. pic.twitter.com/AtsYle0AUo— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 14, 2013
Once in the wilderness or sandpits, the pressure intensifies, and it isn’t long before the scoreboard creeps up and players are ruled out of contention.
Ernie Els is not only reigning champion, capitalising on Adam Scott’s unfortunate capitulation last year, but also the last player to win the British Open at Muirfield. He understands what it takes to win on a links course.
“Your memory serves you well,” he said, as reported by USA Today. “Experience … is to know the way to miss it, especially on links courses, where there are certain places where you just cannot go.”
Don’t Blow it All on Day One
As Els says, there are certain parts of a course you shouldn’t visit—even if the rewards appear to outweigh the negatives. The aim for day one is to keep yourself in the hunt with a safe score, and if you can make a couple of birdie putts to keep ticking over, then all the better.
Pulling out the driver and launching into the unpredictable Scottish weather might work once or twice, but in a four-day championship, the odds are that it’ll all go wrong eventually.
With 72 holes to play, for those who make the cut, it is better to be safe than sorry. It’s the classic golf cliche: You can’t win a tournament in one hole, but you sure can lose it.
Links golf often requires as much luck as it does skill, with the weather having a huge influence on the outcome. If you can sneak around before the wind starts to howl, chances are you’ll be in the mix upon your return to the clubhouse.
The blustery conditions on the sea’s edge ebb and flow, meaning some players will gain a huge advantage whilst others see their rounds crumble before their eyes. The key is to attack the course when it’s tame and hold on when it’s wild.
This week's Open weather forecast. pic.twitter.com/egMiS7Jt10— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) July 17, 2013
Although the weather isn’t expected to be as diabolical as in previous years—remember 2010 at St Andrews played amid storms—it will still invariably have a bearing on who is crowned Sunday’s winner.