The 2011 Open Championship will take place at Royal St. George's Golf Club in Sandwich England. Rory McIlroy is the likely favorite, with Tiger Woods still on the injured list. Often referred to as the British Open in the United States, it is golf's oldest major championship. Here are 12 things you should know about this venue.
In 1891, Royal St. George's became the first venue in England to host the Open Championship. Previously, all the tournaments had taken place in Scotland. 1891 really marked the first time that the Open became a British, rather than a Scottish event.
Measuring only 7204 yards, Royal St. George's is by far the shortest layout of the four major championships. The Masters at Augusta is over 200 yards longer. The PGA Championship will play around 7800 yards. The Open may be a chance for shorter hitters to capitalize.
In 2003, American Ben Curtis won the Open. He was 26 and making his first appearance in a major tournament. He became the first player since Francis Ouimet in 1913 to win in his inaugural major. He was ranked 396th in the world and was 300-1 long shot.
Curtis has had an unremarkable career since.
The 22 year old from Northern Ireland is coming off a record setting US Open win. He has contended at the last four majors. Playing in awful winds may have cost him a chance to win last years Open Championship. A win here would cement his status as the next superstar.
He is generally regarded as the best player currently to never have won a major. At over 40 years old, time will be running out for this Englishman. It would be a good story to see him get the monkey off his back in his homeland.
Even though a long shot won in 2003, history tells us a big name should win. Ben Curtis narrowly prevailed over Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh. Greg Norman won the tournament in 1993 and Sandy Lyle won in 1985. All of these men spent time ranked number one in the world.
2011 will mark the 14th time Royal St. George's has hosted the Open. Only two men have won multiple times on this venue. Both are legends, Walter Hagen and Harry Vardon.
Don't expect Ben Curtis to join this list.
In 1993 Greg Norman fired a final round 64, bringing Royal St. George's to its knees. He finished at 13 under par for the event and broke 70 in every round. In comparison, Ben Curtis finished at one under par in 2003.
The first two holes require drives that carry over 260 yards for a good approach. The third hole is a 239 yard par three. The fourth is a par four that is nearly 500 yards. In 2003, Tiger Woods made a triple bogey on the first hole. He ultimately lost by two strokes.
At only 545 yards, hole is reachable in 2 shots for most players. However there is significant risk. The entire right side of the hole is out of bounds. A river also runs through the center of the fairway. The tee shot must be long and accurate, but doing so will give a player a chance for eagle.
At 456 yards, the 18th fairway is heavily undulated and has bunkers in the fairway. A precise tee shot is needed. Left of the green drops off sharply and getting up and down is extremely difficult. Par could be a tough score on this concluding hole.
As is usually the case with Open courses, Royal St George's borders the sea. How the winds blow off of Sandwich Bay will heavily determine how difficult the course will play.