Carnoustie is tempered, but not tamed

The playing of this year’s British Open championship will not be accompanied by the sound of golfers whining, it seems, after the Royal & Ancient on Thursday unveiled a remodelled Carnoustie and promised that it would offer a fair test of the best players in the world.

”We are not seeking carnage,” said the Royal & Ancient’s CE, Peter Dawson. ”We are seeking an arena where the players can display their skills to the best effect.”

To that end, the tournament organisers have cut back the rough and widened some fairways on the notoriously difficult Scottish course, which was dubbed Car-nasty when the 1999 Open, won by Paul Lawrie, turned into a bogey festival.

Weather permitting, they are also aiming to produce a fast-running course similar to last year’s Open venue, Royal Liverpool, which was widely praised for its emphasis on strategy rather than brute force. In winning there Tiger Woods used his driver off the tee only once.

”What we are trying to achieve is a fair and severe test for the best players in the world,” said Martin Kippax, chairperson of the Royal & Ancient’s championship committee. ”The players understand that. I am sure they will all be here.”

Carnoustie may be fairer than eight years ago, but it will not necessarily be easier. At 7 421 yards it will be 60 yards longer than in 1999, making it the longest in Open championship history and only 140 yards shorter than Medinah, which was the longest Major tournament course ever when it hosted last year’s United States PGA championship.

The biggest changes, however, will be in the rough, which will not be as thick as it was in 1999, and in the width of the fairways, at least one of which was only 12 yards wide back then. — Â

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