The toughest finish in Championship golf

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The Independent Online
Paul Eales began his link with Lytham in 1987 when he became assistant to the club professional, Eddie Birchenough. Eales plays all over the world as a member of the European tour, but regards Lytham as his spiritual home. Here, he presents his hole-by-hole guide to the course he knows best.

The bushes which until recently hid the left half of the green have been trimmed back. It's difficult to feel the breeze as the tee is sheltered but the prevailing wind is from the right. Often your tee shot is destined for the middle of the green only to veer left into a bunker. The members say that if you're in sand at the first, you'll find bunkers all the way round.

The ideal tee shot is over the bunkers on the right side of the fairway. The trees even further right, which screen the Blackpool-to-Preston railway line, often push you left, but it's virtually impossible to reach the green in two if you drive into one of the two bunkers down the left.

A dangerous hole where it is again tempting to drive down the left because of out-of-bounds to the right. The left-hand bunker at 250 yards poses a serious threat but the hole should favour a fader like Colin Montgomerie. Many pros will hit one-iron off the tee and then aim a four or five at the middle-front of an upturned saucer of a green that is better missed right than left.

This shortish, right-to-left dogleg is the only hole on the front nine which plays into the prevailing wind blowing from the left at 10 o'clock. The best line is down the right which provides a flat lie for a short- iron to a generous green. The left-hand line leaves a blind second shot over sand.

This green is a small target at the best of times. It's better to miss it is long and right. The line of bunkers to the left of the green is not the place to go. Depending on the wind, you can hit anything from five-iron to a full-blooded driver. Ignore the pin position and aim at the heart of the green.

A birdie chance even for short hitters like myself. The rough over the bunker on the left corner of the fairway at 240 yards has grown up so you can't get a big bounce off the downslope any more. The tee shot should start on the tall chimney in the distance and draw into the fairway. In the final round in 1979, Hale Irwin hit two straight shots but was still short because the wind was against him while Seve Ballesteros, the eventual winner, hit a wild hook down the adjacent 14th fairway and was able to get up comfortably in two.

Not so easy to reach in two. The line is down the left, avoiding the bunkers at 240 and 274 yards. The mounds up the right are even less desirable, but overall the hole suits faders. After yielding a lot of eagles in 1988, the green was pushed back 10 paces and extended to the left by a similar distance behind the front bunker to create a trickier pin position.

The correct line is to the left of the middle of three distant bunkers protecting the upslope to the green. A bunker on the left of the fairway at 250 yards will catch the slightly errant drive and out-of-bounds threatens all down the right. The second shot often comes up short while the well- struck shot which lands on the green may bounce over the back.

A wonderful short hole, like the Postage Stamp at Troon. You can see all the trouble from an elevated tee, and watch your ball in the air against the clouds and the red-brick Ansdell Institute in the background. It usually plays between a seven and a nine-iron. You mustn't be too aggressive - the green is surrounded by deep bunkers; if you go in one then you've hit a poor shot.

A short par-four with a blind tee shot that is usually played into the wind. The ideal line is between the V in the distant row of trees and the church spire to the left, usually with a one-iron. Anything further left will end in thick rough while a push could find the bunker just off the right edge of the fairway.

Long hitters like Daly or Love might take on the 260-yard carry over two bunkers in a mound to the left of the fairway. The better line is over two bunkers on the right which is a carry of 230 yards. That leaves a clear shot up the fairway. Out of reach for almost everyone, so the all-important shot is the third, usually a pitch from around 100 yards.

My favourite hole. The first 120 yards are sheltered by bushes but there's usually a strong breeze from the left. I've seen so many shots gusted off here. The green slopes from eight o'clock at the front to two o'clock, requiring a controlled left-to-right shot. I'm looking forward to watching a great shotmaker like Pavin here.

The last of the easier holes - an iron off the tee should find the fairway, just inside the bunker which protects the left corner of a slight dogleg right. If Daly is out of contention, he might have a go at driving the green, but the right side of the fairway, with all its bunkers, rough and trees, is definitely not the place to go.

The Open will be decided over the toughest five-hole finish in Championship golf - the 14th was statistically the hardest hole in 1988. It's vital to avoid the bunkers and mounds to the right but a drive up the left leaves a restricted view of the green. The long-iron second shot should land 30 yards short to chase on to the green, but beware a deep bunker guarding the right front.

The second hardest hole in 1988, generally playing into the wind. Most players will draw their drives over the right-hand bunker - a 220-yard carry. The line up the left leaves a longer second shot. If you're in the rough and have to lay up, you will be hindered by a nest of bunkers across the fairway 100 yards short of the green.

From the tee you can see the green at one o'clock, but the line to the fairway, which is blind, is at 11 o'clock. In 1979, Ballesteros sliced 150 yards right of the fairway into a temporary car park. From there he finished off the back of the green and holed a birdie putt.

A right-to-left dogleg where the ideal drive starts on the distant flagpole with draw. There's plenty of room on the fairway but you must go as left as you dare to shorten a blind second shot. In 1926, Bobby Jones hit a 175-yard shot from thick left-hand rough to the green for a par-four which disconcerted his playing partner Al Watrous and set up a famous victory. The shot is commemorated by a bronze plaque.

One of the best sights in golf, with the clubhouse behind the green. A daunting drive, with the wind usually off the left and against. The drive, or three-wood, should finish just short of the three bunkers on the left of the fairway. From there, it is a medium iron to the green, just as it was for Tony Jacklin when he won in 1969.

Interview: Paul Trow

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