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Open venue Royal Troon to feature longest and shortest holes in major’s history

In Sports
April 30, 2024
Bubba Watson splashes out of a bunker on Royal Troon's signature eighth hole

Royal Troon’s eighth hole measures just 123 yards – Stuart Nicol

This summer’s 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon will feature a statistical quirk in that the competitors will play the longest hole in Open history, followed two holes later by the shortest.

At a media day on Tuesday, the R&A announced that Troon’s sixth hole, Turnberry, had been extended by 20 yards from the last time the Open was held at the Ayrshire links in 2016. It now measures 623 yards, making it officially the longest hole in Open history. It will be followed two holes later by the world-famous ‘Postage Stamp’, the notoriously tricky par-three played over a gully to a long but extremely narrow green set into the side of a large sandhill. The Postage Stamp measures 123 yards from the championship tees, which makes it the shortest hole in Open Championship golf. But it could be shortened to 99 yards depending on weather.

The R&A says it is expecting 250,000 spectators at the 152nd Open, the biggest ever attendance in Scotland outside of St Andrews and an increase of 77,000 on the last time the Open was staged at Troon in 2016 when Henrik Stenson defeated Phil Mickelson in a legendary final-round duel in 2016.

It remains to be seen whether Greg Norman is one of them. The R&A does not routinely extend invitations to past champions but there will be interest in whether the Australian, who now runs the Saudi-backed rebel LIV Tour, turns up.

Norman created a stir at the Masters a few weeks ago when he turned up as a paying punter on the Wednesday and the Thursday, choosing to follow Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler’s group.

Although negotiations are ongoing regarding a merger between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund – which bankrolls LIV – and tensions have clearly thawed over the last year, it was pointed of Norman to enter the grounds as a member of the public, with no access to the inner sanctums of the clubhouse where the game’s powerbrokers annually assemble.

The Australian had previously described it as “petty” of Augusta National Golf Club not to send him so much as a grounds pass despite his long standing relationship with the tournament, which includes three runners-up finishes.

Greg Norman of Australia kisses the Claret Jug after winning the British Open at Royal St Georges in Sandwich, Kent, England on July 18, 1993

Norman won two Opens during an illustrious playing career – Getty Images/David Cannon

As a two-time Open champion – at Turnberry in 1986 and at Royal St George’s in 1993 – Norman might have even more of an expectation of attending the Open.

Mike Woodcock, director of corporate communications for the R&A, said said he was not aware of the Australian having bought a ticket. “I don’t think there’s a G Norman [on the list],” Woodcock said when asked whether Norman might turn up as he did at Augusta. “I think they would have let me know if there was. So I’m not aware that he’s bought a ticket so far.

“Obviously there are tickets still available on the resale platform or hospitality. He’s very welcome to look there.”

In one respect, at least, that represents progress. Two years ago, at the height of golf’s fractious civil war with the Saudi rebel series, the R&A actively chose not to invite Norman to attend the tournament’s 150th celebrations and its Champions Dinner at St Andrews, saying it wanted “to ensure that the focus remains on celebrating the Championship and its heritage”.

Norman reacted with characteristic disdain. “I would have thought the R&A would have stayed above it all given their position in world golf,” he told Golf Digest at the time. “It’s petty, as all I have done is prompt and grow the game of golf globally, on and off the golf course, for more than four decades.”

LIV has been asked whether Norman has actually sought an invitation this year. It is yet to respond. Norman will be in Singapore later this week for the next LIV event.

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