Golf: Farr falls prey to malicious monster: Guy Hodgson reports from Royal St George's, Sandwich, on the man who failed a sadistic test

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The Independent Online
IT WAS barely past 8.0 yesterday morning when Graham Farr knew he was leaving the Open Championship. With most of his rivals either in bed or newly out of it he ran into the most sadistic test on the Royal St George's course.

They do not attach names to holes at Sandwich like they do at St Andrews or Augusta, just curses. And none attracts more unwholesome adjectives than the monster that masquerades under the innoncent sobriquet, the fourth. A par four they call the 468 yards of malicious sand and turf and you can almost hear the sniggering afterwards.

Just as you could nearly pick up Farr's inner weeping. The Telford professional had set himself the ambition of making the cut and at three over, after three successive pars, the object was within reach. Then he took out his driver and effectively locked away all hope of making the final two rounds.

The immediate danger is a bunker so huge and forbidding it is prehistoric. A course in Jurassic Park would have traps like this but at the normally proportioned Sandwich it boggles the eyes of the amateur, demanding the attention of the man on the tee. And, like a Siren, it entices the amateur. 'Get in the bottom and it's like chipping over a house to get out,' a marshal said with a relish of a man who had succumbed himself.

Normally the professional can ignore this temptation, scoffing at the 200 yards between ball and sand and using the trap as a marker for his drive to clear. Or he can until he tops his shot. Mike Harwood made a hash of his on Thursday and had to scale the face of the trap like a mountaineer just to play his ball. Yesterday, in the second round, Mats Hallberg needed two attempts to find land once he had been beached. This time he escaped with a six, the previous day his ball had found the hedge at the back of the green and he had staggered off with a seven.

For Farr there was a new path to self-destruction. He did not hit the bunker and neither was he intimidated by the huge second shot on a hole just seven yards short of a par five. Instead he found something far worse - a web of undergrowth by Bunkersaurus Rex so thick it would have defied a sharpened scythe never mind a golf club.

He swung in hope and looked down in despair to find his ball further embedded. He struck again and it moved a foot. Once more, and he was playing five having moved no more than a yard in three attempts. Every hacker has been there; most pros too, but only when they were barely out of nappies.

Farr rode his luck on the saddle- shaped green to leave the scene of the crime with a quadruple-bogey eight and all trace of fight knocked out of him.

'I'd have been better off if I'd lost the ball,' he moaned. 'That hole drained me of all confidence.' He ended with a nine-over-par 79 and an early return home to the Midlands.

His was the deepest wound but others were bleeding too: Andrew Sherborne shipped seven, Rodger Davis and Nico Van Rensberg left with steam billowing from their ears after sixes. Even the best were victims, Seve Balesteros and Payne Stewart each taking bogey fives. After two rounds the hole was taking an average of more than half a stroke from every golfer.

'Get a five there and it's almost like a par,' said Fuzzy Zoeller, who, by his own reckoning, got an eagle with his three on the first day. 'I don't know if the man who designed it was angry with his wife at the time but it's some green.' Yesterday he slipped past the danger with a four and his step took on an extra bounce. 'It's so nice playing golf, I almost feel guilty,' he said, smiling.

It was a rare triumph and one that was immediately remedied as the trio behind went five, five, five. Three more victims, three more unprintable thoughts about the hole with no name.

(Photograph omitted)