St. Andrews Links Trust throws out previous records at Old Course

St. Andrews Links Trust throws out previous records at Old Course

NEWTON SQUARE, Pa. (AP) — Curtis Strange set the course record on the Old Course at St. Andrews with a 62 during the old Alfred Dunhill Cup in 1987, a feat now recognized only by his memory and a silver memento.

His wife, Sarah, made a sterling silver scorecard of his record round that Strange hangs on the wall in his office.

But it’s not in an official record book. Brian Davis matched the 62 in the Dunhill Links Championship in 2003. That doesn’t count, either.

The St. Andrews Links Trust, which manages the Old Course, has thrown out previous records because the Old Course has been lengthened. The official course record is 64 by Bradley Dredge in the 2006 Dunhill, matched last year by Mikko Ilonen.

“I’m disappointed,” Strange said. “But in my mind, it’s a wonderful memory for me. As far as I’m concerned, I still have it. And until someone shoots 61, the course record belongs to me.”

It was a peculiar decision, considering that golf and its courses continue to evolve. Augusta National now measures 7,435 yards, yet the home of the Masters still recognizes its course record as the 63 that Nick Price shot in 1986 and Greg Norman matched in 1996. In both years, the course was 6,925 yards.

Raymond Floyd shot a 63 at Southern Hills in the 1982 PGA Championship when it was 6,862 yards. Tiger Woods tied the course record with a 63 in the second round of the 2007 PGA Championship when the course was 7,131 yards. Both remain course records.

“I think that’s a little shortsighted,” Southern Hills head pro Dave Bryan said Tuesday of the St. Andrews decision. “The course is longer, but the equipment more than makes up for that. It’s a moot point.”

Not according to the St. Andrews Links Trust.

Trust spokesman Mike Woodcock said the 62s were thrown out when Old Course was lengthened – by 164 yards – for the 2005 British Open. Tiger Woods established the course record in the first round with a 66 in the ’05 Open, replaced by David Frost and his 65 in the second round, and by Dredge a year later in the Dunhill.

“The course was lengthened in 2005 for The Open, fairly substantially in one or two instances,” Woodcock said. “The decision was that the next low score would be the record.”

Asked about the changes in equipment to match the longer courses – and how Augusta National and other major courses have left their records in tact – Woodstock said, “It is a difficult one. The only measure you can take is the length of the course.”

The Old Course has been lengthened again, with a new tee on the 17th making it 40 yards longer at 495 yards. With other subtle changes, the official card will be 7,305 yards. That’s a whopping 26 yards longer than in 2005.

It’s possible the course record could be established Thursday. Woodcock wasn’t sure, and some of that depends on the whether the R&A uses the new tee on the 17th.

Davis, meanwhile, took the news in stride.

“Just one of those things,” he said Tuesday. “I can understand why there’s a new course record. It’s completely different. It’s hard to relate back in time. I’ll just have to qualify for the Open and get the new record.”

ANTHONY KIM: Two months after surgery to repair ligament damage in his left thumb, Anthony Kim was cleared to practice Tuesday.

Kim, who won the AT&T National two years ago, was hitting wedges at his home in Dallas. A spokesman said doctors were encouraged by his progress, although he didn’t set a date for his return. The British Open is definitely out.

Chris Armstrong, his agent at IMG, said Kim hopes to return in time for the Canadian Open on July 22-25, and at least be back in time for the PGA Championship and the playoffs for the FedEx Cup.

Kim has dropped only one spot in the Ryder Cup standings, to No. 3, despite missing the last two months. Zach Johnson (Colonial) and Bubba Watson (Travelers) are the only Americans to have won tournaments during his absence. His is No. 4 in the FedEx Cup standings.

BRITISH OPEN HOPES: Justin Rose had signed up for the 36-hole British Open qualifier that was played Tuesday on four links courses in Scotland. Thanks to his last two PGA Tour events, Rose is virtually a lock to play St. Andrews.

Two spots have been set aside for the top players (not already exempt) from a cumulative money list that includes The Players Championship and five successive PGA Tour events through the AT&T National. Rose won the Memorial and tied for ninth last week in the Travelers Championship, putting him atop that money list with $1.236 million.

Right behind is Travelers winner Bubba Watson at just over $1.1 million. They are likely to earn the two spots.

Rickie Fowler is the next eligible player on the special money list at $747,750, followed by Ricky Barnes at $625,945 and Davis Love III at $600,565. Those three players could finish second at the AT&T National and move past Watson, who is not playing this week.

The British Open also offers a spot this week and at the John Deere Classic next week to the leading player among the top five and ties, provided they are not already eligible.

A DIFFERENT ROAD: The North Carolina-based eGolf Professional Tour is designed to help young players make their way to the big leagues, paying the entry fee to PGA Tour qualifying for the top 20 players on its money list.

Chris Baker’s road has taken an unexpected turn.

Baker was runner-up in Golf in Morocco Classic in Columbia, S.C., the last week in March, earning him an all-expenses trip to the Moroccan Golf Classic in Casablanca for a Challenge Tour event. When the tournament finally was played two weeks ago – it was postponed in April because of travel delays from the volcanic ash – Baker closed with a 68 for a two-shot victory.

That gave Baker a one-year exemption on the Challenge Tour, and the top 20 on the money list earn exempt cards for the European Tour. With his victory, and a tie for 35th last week in Spain, Baker is 15th on the money list.

“I am definitely going to continue to pursue my European Tour card on the Challenge Tour,” Baker said. “As an American golfer, this is a rare opportunity to be able to pursue.”

DIVOTS: Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover and Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa are among those who have signed up for the Scottish Open in Loch Lomond next week. … Mark Woodward has resigned as chief executive of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. Rhett Evans, the chief operating officer, will replace him on an interim basis.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson are the only two players in the last two years to win a PGA Tour event and lead the field in driving distance.

FINAL WORD: “I’m a very emotional guy. I cry all the time. I couldn’t get the ‘yes or the ‘I do’ out on my wedding day. And the pastor said, ‘You gotta say it. You can’t just nod.'” – Bubba Watson, who broke down after winning the Travelers Championship.

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