‘Calamity’ concerns for Stenson but McIlroy unfussed

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‘Calamity’ concerns for Stenson but McIlroy unfussed

Rory McIlroy plays a tee shot on the par 3, 16th hole 'Calamity' at Royal Portrush (Photo by David Cannon/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

It’s called Calamity Corner but it’s got a former Open Champion complaining about a lack of calmness at the last of the par-3s at Royal Portrush.

Henrik Stenson found himself in a state of calamity last Monday in playing the par-3 16th hole at Royal Portrush for a first time.

It is the most famous of four par-3s at Royal Portrush and a hole measuring 236-yards from the back tee.

For those playing the hole for a first time, the 16th is a heart-in-the-mouth par- 3 hole with your initial attention drawn not to the green but to the right and the Valley Course way, way below.

Any shot a fraction right will drop down the slope leaving you, that’s if you find your ball, trying to play your ball with one foot far lower than the other.

Stenson’s always been the sort of guy ready to accept any challenge but he took a disliking to the 16th and particularly if organisers use the back tee on any of the four days of the 148th Open Championship.

Indeed, he headed straight the R&A’s on-course offices after Monday’s round to seek out CEO Martin Slumbers.

“Sixteen is that short, driveable par-4, isn’t it?” joked Stenson.

“No, the 16th is a bit of a beast and I spoke to Martin Slumbers, and if I read his comments that he gave me after we discussed the 16th we may not be playing it from all the way from the back tee every day.

“It’s just that when I played a practice round on that Monday the tee was all the way back and while I know we may play it forward for one of the rounds.

“When I walked the course with my caddy and my coach on the Sunday afternoon beforehand, the wind was coming from down off the right while when we played it Monday, the wind had turned and I played a little 4-iron from about 30-yards up from that Monday tee and still didn’t get the ball on the green.

“Preferably, you don’t want to be playing the 16th off the back tees if it’s into the wind and that is what I was saying to Martin.

“So, 16 is an interesting hole.”

Rory McIlroy had to deal with ‘Calamity’ often in his amateur career including 2005 when the then 16-year birdied the hole on route to shooting a blistering 61 in the North of Ireland.

He can’t understand the fuss.

“I played 16 from the back tees when I was up there on Saturday (July 6th) and it is a hole with regards to the tees that is wind-dependent,” he said.

“When I played that day, it was in benign conditions but when there is a bit of wind, it is a good 3 or 4-iron for most of us.

“The thing is also, the 16th tee is a really long tee box so that the hole can play from 185, 190-yards at the front of the tee to 226 230-yards at the back.

“I can see what Henrik is talking about but it’s not a big issue and it’s best to just use common sense.”

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