Casey runs into trouble at Road Hole

Paul Casey


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ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Much has been made about the changes to the Road Hole, St. Andrews’ Old Course’s famed 17th, this week at the British Open. On Friday, with winds picking up in the early afternoon to the point play eventually had to be suspended, the hole started inflicting some serious damage on players’ chances. 

Paul Casey stepped to the 17th tee this morning at 8 under for the championship. Unlike some who had trouble right off the tee (such as Scott Verplank, who hit one OB near the Old Course Hotel and made triple), Casey hit his tee shot left, into heavy rough. His only option when he got to his ball was to hit out sideways, but that didn’t go so well. He whiffed, his wedge going right underneath the ball. 

“I wanted to go straight sideways but couldn’t go at it too hard because if I went at it too hard and it came out, I could end up in Room 312,” joked Casey, who at least accepted his fate with a dose of humor. “It’s the thickest rough on the golf course. Nothing else on the course replicates that. With the wind today as strong as it is off the right, it’s a pretty scary thing to take your drive close to the hotel and let it drift back.”

“The hole was difficult enough before they ever even moved the tees back.”

Casey played his third shot backwards down the fairway, hit his fourth near the green, “and a few whacks, and a 7,” he said. “So pretty easy 7.”

Said Jean Van de Velde, who is announcing for BBC this week: “He is not the first person to be bitten by the Road Hole, and he won’t be the last.”

Even with his triple, Casey shot 69 and stands at 6-under 138. (“I did birdie the last, and that will make lunch taste a little better,” he said.) On Thursday, only five players in the field birdied the 490-yard par 4. As it neared 3 p.m. in Scotland on Friday, there were seven “others” – double bogeys or worse – and only a single birdie. That belonged to Ignacio Garrido, who played early (third group off) and shot 71. Give that man some kind of special jug. 

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