Analyzing Royal Liverpool's par 5s

As the British Open returns, players will look to score on Hoylake's getable par 5s

Originally Published: July 8, 2014
By Scott T. Miller | ESPN The Magazine

WANT TO WIN the British Open at Royal Liverpool? Start by tearing up its par 5s. As the chart below shows, that's what the top 10 finishers did in 2006, collectively scoring 105 under par on Hoylake's par 5s, compared with 13 under on its other holes. When the world's best golfers return July 17-20, they'll find the four birdie magnets virtually unchanged. "The challenge," says head pro John Heggarty, "is whether they can turn them into par 4s." Here, Heggarty reveals the secrets to scoring on the par 5s, which might well produce the winner.


1. Hug and hope
Heggarty: "Hugging the dogleg is ideal for going at the green in two, but you run the risk of hitting into the gorse. Even if that's avoided, the only way to get close to a front pin from here is to barely carry the bunker short of the green and run it up."

2. Pot luck
"If you hit it in any of these three fairway bunkers, you can advance the ball only 50-60 yards. You're not going anywhere with those."

3. Running out of green
"If someone hits a drive without shaping it around the corner, it could end up here, and this rough is pretty penal. Even if you take a short iron out of there, the club could snag, sending the ball left."

4. Ball magnet
"This bunker tends to gather the ball. From there, it's an awkward shot to get anywhere near a pin that's in the back-left of the green because you have to come over the greenside bunker."


1. Uneven ground
Heggarty: "Starting at about 320, there are quite a lot of small-mounded areas in the fairways, and you can draw an awkward lie. If the fairways are running quite quick, players might take long irons off this tee to put it in position."

2. Thick and nasty
"This rough is a no-go area. It's one of the most penal parts of rough we have on the golf course."

3. Don't be right ... or left
"If you're going to run the ball up, it has to be a very precise second shot. Any ball that's short right of this green will gather in the bunker, which is really deep. And anything left and short will gather in the runoff."

4. Stop frontin'!
"In 2006, because the conditions were so hard and fast, the front-left pin was particularly difficult; any ball that landed left of the hole would go down the bank. Front-right is tricky, but it's not too hard if you're coming in with your third shot."


1. Bumpy road
Heggarty: "These humps and hallows are about 290 yards from the tee. They're not 6-foot-high mounds; it's probably a differential of only 18 inches or 2½ feet. But you won't be able to go at the green unless you end up in a flat part."

2. Don't go there!
"If you're hitting from here, the bunker that sits 35 yards short of the green gets your attention. The tendency is to miss a little right. Go too far and the green runs off down a steep slope. That's a tough up-and-down to a right pin."

3. Vicious little lies
"This is quite a sneaky little bunker. The difficulty of the shot is dependent on where the ball sits in the bottom. The bunkers are as fair as possible, but the players will not always draw the flat lie that they like."

4. Hallowed ground
"Here, there's a grassy hallow, Farrar's Folly, named for a former club secretary. I'm not sure how the R&A will present it, but we keep it very thick. Because the green tilts from front to back, shots from here will be unpredictable, especially if it's playing firm and fast."


1. The not-so-easy way out
Heggarty: "Playing too conservatively off the tee will leave a player here, where it's difficult to attack any pin on the left side of the green. There's a slight downslope off the greenside bunkers, so the ball will tend to chase away quickly."

2. Flirting with disaster
"The aggressive line is to aim here, where the out-of-bounds line curves toward the green. Unless there's a really hard wind off the left, I don't imagine the OB coming into play too much for these guys."

3. The price of sand
"If players can avoid these steep-faced bunkers -- and the collection area short and left of them -- there aren't too many other difficult up-and-downs around this green."

4. Approach with caution
"The narrow space here means players will likely have to go across the OB area with their second shot. Being on the right side of the fairway gives them a better chance of running the ball onto the green."


PICKING A WINNER IN THREE EASY STEPS

Step 1 Find the top 10 players in par-5 birdie-or-better percentage and/or par-5 scoring average.

Step 2 Average each player's rank in those categories with his overall world rank.

Step 3 Start engraving Adam Scott's name on the Claret Jug.


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