The 147th Open Championship gets underway on Thursday at Carnoustie, Dundee, with Jordan Spieth looking to defend the title he won last year at Royal Birkdale.
FOX Sports Asia brings you the lowdown on what has been called “the toughest course in Britain.”
Opened in 1842, Carnoustie lies on the east coast of Scotland, just north of St Andrews. It has hosted the Open Championship on seven previous occasions. The last time in 2007 when Irishman Padraig Harrington came out on top, defeating Sergio Garcia in a four-hole playoff.
The 2018 Open Championship has a total prize money pot of US$10.8 million. The winner of the Claret Jug at Carnoustie will receive US$1.89 million while the runner up will get US$1.089 million. Third place is worth US$701,000.
Although you cannot see the North Sea from the course, Carnoustie is very exposed and becomes extremely tough to play when the wind is whipping in from the ocean. Conditions in 1999 earned the course the nickname “Carnasty,” and according to the former secretary of the R&A: “When the wind is blowing, it is the toughest course in Britain. And when it’s not blowing, it’s probably still the toughest.”
Carnoustie was the scene of the infamous final hole collapse by Frenchman Jean Van de Velde in 1999. Leading by three strokes on the final tee, Van de Velde needed only a double bogey at the last to win. He then proceeded to have one of the biggest meltdowns in recent golf history as he hit into the rough, then a grandstand and then Barry Burn before eventually holing a six-footer for a triple bogey.
A three-way playoff with Paul Lawrie and Justin Leonard ensued which needless to say, Van de Velde didn’t win. The rest is history.
The 18th hole at Carnoustie is ranked as one of the toughest holes in championship golf. Just ask Van de Velde or Harrington, who also struggled on the last in 2007, hitting into the water twice for a double bogey six before recovering to win his playoff. “Out of bounds left off the fee, water left, water right, water short, bunkers straight in front of you,” said Harrington. “The second shot, you can hit the green and go out of bounds. It’s the most difficult closing hole in major championship golf and probably world golf.”