SANDWICH, England -- The players have been positive in their appraisal of Royal St. George's at the 140th British Open this week, with one exception: The fourth hole drove them mad Saturday.
Although it didn't play to its full 495 yards, the par 4 still wreaked havoc. The field averaged 4.93 strokes, making it easily the hardest 469 yards on the course.
"It's 250 to reach the fairway in a howling gale; can't get there," said Paul Lawrie, who made a triple-bogey on the hole and shot 81. "I hit it in a bunker. You could have put that tee much farther up. It was only about three or four people in the field that can hit the ball 250 in a howling gale."
The hole was too long for many players to reach in two. Jason Day, 23, estimated it would have taken a 240-yard shot to reach the fairway off the tee, and playing into the teeth of the wind, he moved his ball only about 200. He tried to tell himself a 5 would be a great score, but he still made 6.
Spencer Levin made a quadruple-bogey 8. There were no birdies on the hole Saturday, one of three holes at St. George's to pitch a shutout. (No one birdied the third or 18th holes, either.) And only 18 of the 71 players who made the cut managed to par number four. Ten players made double-bogey or worse.
"It was 40 miles an hour into the wind, and rain sideways," said Richard Green. "I think my driver went just 200 yards, and then a 3-wood just as far again. Then I pitched up onto the green and made par. I walked off there, I couldn't believe it."