HOYLAKE, England – The world’s elite will find very little change when they turn up for the 143rd running of the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. The R&A has added just 54 yards to the course Tiger Woods tamed in 2006.
The biggest change comes at the par-4 seventh hole. It measures 480 yards, 27 yards longer than it played in 2006. “It will be a formidable par four,” R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said.
Royal Liverpool will measure 7,312 yards and play to a par of 72 as opposed to the 7,258 yards it was in 2006. The layout measured 6,955 yards in 1967 when Argentina’s Roberto de Vicenzo won his only major championship. It is the 11th time the game’s oldest tournament has been staged over the Hoylake links.
The only other significant course change comes at the par-4 first hole. The green has been reshaped and rebunkered.
“It’s the hardest opening hole on the Open rota,” Dawson said.
The R&A has not announced an increase in prize money. The governing body traditionally announces the total purse closer to the championship to take currency exchange rates into account.
The world’s best played for a total prize fund of £5,250,000 last year compared to £5 million the previous year. A similar increase can be expected for this year’s championship. The total purse was worth £4 million in 2006.
The first place check was worth £945,000 last year, up £45,000 from the previous championship. Woods picked up £720,000 for winning his 11th major eight years ago.
Some 200,000 fans are expected to flock to the seaside town of Hoylake this year, down slightly from the 230,000 who turned up in 2006 to watch the Open Championship return to Royal Liverpool after an absence of 39 years.
“There was an excitement and novelty value in 2006, which led to huge crowds,” said Malcolm Booth, the R&A’s director of communications. “We don’t expect that this year.”
The R&A might have to massage the figures depending on Woods’ fitness. The world No. 1 missed Masters after back surgery, and question marks remain over his schedule for the rest of the year.
However, Hoylake is very close to Liverpool and, like Royal Birkdale and Royal Lytham, it will draws huge crowds in July.