Golf: Alterations to the Old Course receive mixed reception

Alterations that have been made to the famous Old Course at St Andrews received a mixed reaction on the opening day of the Alfred Dunhill Cup. Andy Farrell reports.

The great attraction of this event is the venue. St Andrews has been steeped in golf longer than anywhere else in the world. Even the New Course here is more venerable than most elsewhere and the Old Course is exactly that, the oldest, most unchanging setting for the ball-and-stick game.

Until now that is. The Old Course has been changed. The Auld Lady has been placed on a rack and extended by 161 yards. Six new tees have been built in an attempt to increase the level of torture experienced by modern- day professionals with their hi-tech balls and state of the art clubs.

Action was needed after John Daly won the Open here two years ago. His victory was not unexpected. Michael Bonallack, the secretary of the Royal & Ancient - who are more forward thinking than their image suggests - profited from a wager that Long John would prevail that week.

The Old Course has always evolved - it was once played the "other way round'', i.e. from the first tee to the 17th green - but the trouble with the links was that the difficulties, represented by pot bunkers with names such the Coffins and the Principal's Nose, were no longer in play not just for Daly, but a whole host of other big hitters.

Colin Montgomerie and Ernie Els approve of the changes. "I cannot see any negatives to the changes," Els said. One of the old guard, Mark James, disagrees. "Unimaginative, unnecessary and irrelevant," the English captain said.

"If a course is obviously flawed, then you try to do something about it. This is obviously flawed because if you carry the ball 270 yards off the tee, there isn't a bunker in play. But that still exists. It doesn't make a difference for the gorillas. It's wide open. You can reduce it to nothing. So I'm told.''

At this point, James looked for guidance from his more youthful, long- hitting countryman Lee Westwood. "Mark plays a game with which I am not accustomed," the youngster chided his elder. "You won't want to become accustomed to it," James replied.

The English trio of James, Westwood and Russell Claydon beat Japan 3- 0 to put pressure on the group's top seeds, America, who dropped a point to Argentina. There was not much subtlety about the English strategy. Claydon, at 16 stone and more, was put out against the lightest Japanese player, Tsukasa Watanabe, and told to "flatten" his opponent. This he did only thanks to Watanabe's double-bogey at the Road Hole, the 17th, one that is in no need of making tougher.

Justin Leonard set what is the new course record of 65, later equalled by Sweden's Jesper Parnevik, and had Curtis Strange's previous mark of 62 within his sights when he had eight birdies in his first 12 holes. The Open champion said: "I never thought I would be eight under on this course. I was not hitting it close, but holing a lot of 10 to 15 footers.''

But with Brad Faxon losing to Angel Cabrera 68-72, the result of the match was decided when Mark O'Meara beat Eduardo Romero at the first extra hole. Romero birdied the 17th to bring the match level, but then went in the burn at the first.

The day's upset came from France, who beat Australia 2-1. Fabrice Tarnaud matched Robert Allenby's birdie at the last to win by one, while Jean Van de Velde holed from 25 feet at the first extra hole to beat Steve Elkington.

That leaves Sweden, who defeated Taiwan 3-0, in command in Group Two, while South Africa and Scotland both came out 2-1 winners over Ireland and Germany respectively in what should be the most closely fought group.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific