Experienced caddie Billy Foster fears Hoylake’s new 17th hole, named Little Eye, could impact this year’s Open Championship for all the wrong reasons.
Matt Fitzpatrick’s quick-witted looper labelled the diminutive par-3 as nothing short of a monstrosity, highlighting the lack of a bail-out option and horrendous recovery shots promoted by the 140-yard test.
“Unfortunately I think this Open Championship could be remembered for a calamity that happened,” Foster told Golf Monthly.
“There was nothing wrong with the little par three they had before and they’ve created a monstrosity in my opinion.
“The green is very small. If you land it a foot short it rolls back into a coffin that’s underground, so deep. This is challenging the best golfers in the world that will be making 6s, 7s and 8s.”
Designed by Martin Ebert, the hole looks set to split opinion this week and indeed it could play as anything depending on conditions, with four ‘3s’ for the week likely to see players gaining shots on the field.
“I’ve hit a 5-iron on that hole, I’ve hit a gap wedge on that hole, it could be anything,” says John Heggarty, the Head Professional at Royal Liverpool for the past 40 years.
“It’s fair to say that you need to hit the green. If you don’t hit a good shot on that hole onto the green, then you are going struggle to make par.
“There’s the big deep bunker on the right-hand side, a sneaky little bunker front left, and of course if you land it on the front of the green with any sort of decent strike, the spin that you’re going to create on that ball will probably bring you back down into the waste area, leaving you a 40-yard bunker shot from the wasteland.
“You need to have your A game on that tee, whether you’re hitting a gap wedge or you’re hitting an 8-iron.”
As for Fitzpatrick’s opinion, the Englishman simply smiled when describing the hole as ‘interesting’. Prompted to elaborate, he added, “I think I’ll leave it at that.”