TURNBERRY, Scotland(AP) Organizers of the British Open at Turnberry have lengthened the course by 247 yards since it was last played there 15 years ago.
The new layout features six new tees, including a spectacular 200-yard drive over the bay near the famous Lighthouse at the 10th hole.
The changes, which have been made gradually over the years, were announced at a news conference at the course on Tuesday.
The yardage changes for the July 16-19 championship include 135 yards added to the final three holes, with the par-5 17th stretched from 498 to 559 yards and the 16th changing from a 410-yard straight hole to a 455-yard dogleg right.
The course on the west coast of Scotland, which held the tournament in 1977, ’86 and ’94, now has an overall length of 7,204 yards, up from 6,957.
Tiger Woods, who has won the British Open three times, will play the course for the first time. Padraig Harrington, winner at Carnoustie in 2007 and Royal Birkdale last year, is trying to become the first player to win the Open three years in a row since Peter Thomson in 1956.
Turnberry made its debut on the Open rotation of links courses in 1977 when Tom Watson, who went on to win the tournament five times, edged Jack Nicklaus in what became known as the “Duel in the Sun” over the last 36 holes. Although Nicklaus finished 65-66, Watson made 65-65 while third-place Hubert Green finished 10 shots back.
Greg Norman won his first Open title in ’86, helped by a second round 63, and Nick Price won in ’94 after he eagled the 17th with a 50-foot putt to overtake Jesper Parnevik.
Organizers dismissed speculation that nearby Royal Troon, which also hosts Open championships, is on standby to stage this year’s tournament because of delayed renovation of the five-star Turnberry Hotel, which overlooks the links.
“We are quite satisfied that the hotel will be ready to serve as the headquarters for competitors,” said David Hill, the Royal & Ancient’s director of championships. “We are in constant touch with (Turnberry owners) Leisurecorp and are assured it will be ready in time.”
Prize money for the Open has not yet been announced and there have been reports that it will not change much from last year’s 4.2 million pounds. But because of the weakened British pound that would be just over $6 million, compared to almost $8.4 million last year in a tournament where Americans have dominated.