As the top golfers in the world descend upon Carnoustie this week we’re taking a look at the links course that has already hosted seven Open Championships and earned the nickname “Carnasty.” So what is it about this Open venue that makes players love it and hate it in equal measure?
It’s known as one of golf’s hardest tests and as the late Payne Stewart once said, “It could actually be a place where people wish they’d miss the cut.” Unlike a parkland course, a links golf course relies heavily on its natural surroundings and very few man-made additions. Carnoustie is a perfect example of this with its thick rough, huge bunkers and iconic winding water hazard – The Barry Burn.
Over the years this Scottish course has made many enemies who thought they were about to conquer it. Just ask France’s Jean Van de Velde who in 1999 suffered one of The Open’s biggest collapses. Losing the Claret Jug in spectacular fashion after a triple-bogey on the 18th led to a four-hole playoff he ended up losing to Paul Lawrie.
It’s Long, Way Long and Fast
At just over 7,400 yards, Carnoustie is the longest course to host The Open. This year’s European Ryder Cup captain, Thomas Bjorn has said it is “the toughest [course] on the [Open] rota.” We think many would argue it is the toughest course in the world! Narrow landings sandwiched between thick rough, combine with firm and fast greens as well as tough windy conditions to give golfers one of the greatest tests they will ever face. The recent heat wave we’ve been experiencing will do little to ease the difficulty of Carnoustie. With dried out greens and fairways leading to firm and fast conditions.
“Right now the fairways are faster than the greens,” said 14-time major winner Tiger Woods earlier this week. “I am sure they will probably speed the greens up a touch but I’m sure this will be one of those weeks where the fairways are a little quicker than the greens.”
Woods added, “It is a risk reward golf course and the way it is set up right now, it is going to play very narrow because it is so fast.”
To win at Carnoustie precision and accuracy must come before power and strength. Especially on the final holes of The Championship Course, where one small error could land you in the dreaded Burn. Previous Open champions who have won here include Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Paul Lawrie and Padraig Harrington.
“There isn’t a player who didn’t find this course a test and enjoyed that test. Credit to Carnoustie, it’s one of the best in the world,” said Harrington after his 2007 victory.
So who has a chance of winning the Claret Jug in 2018…
The returning Open Champion is hoping this year’s major might just light the fire he’s been missing since Royal Birkdale 12 months ago, the spot of his last victory. Spieth was none too pleased about having to return the Claret Jug this week so will the chance to regain it on Sunday be enough to push the Texan out of his 2018 slump?
Could this finally be the 29-year-old’s chance for major success? Fowler might just be golf’s greatest player to not reach the top in a major yet. After a runner-up finish at the Masters in April could Carnoustie be the place Fowler finally seals a major deal – here’s hoping!
How could we not put the world number one on our list of hopefuls? With only one major title on his resume DJ is definitely on the hunt for more and what better place to show off his skills then Carnoustie. We just hope he’s not staying anywhere with stairs tonight!
Currently all four majors are owned by Americans. If there’s a chance for a European victor we think Rahm might just be our best bet. The world number five has yet to win a major title but his big drives and consistent play over the last year and a half means he is definitely a safe bet to be lifting the Claret Jug on Sunday.
Britain’s own Tommy Fleetwood is taking the PGA Tour by storm in 2018. He might not have won the U.S. Open last month but the 27-year old’s final round 63 made him possibly an even bigger storyline than consecutive winner Brooks Koepka. His confidence is up as he heads to Carnoustie where he also holds the course record of 63. Coincidence? We think not!