Former world number one and Rolex testimonee, Lorena Ochoa reveals how she tackled the Old Course to win her first major at St Andrews in 2007. Hole by hole, the Mexican champion describes what it’s like to play this prestiguous course.
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Hole 1 "Burn"
Par 4, 376 yards
Gets it’s name from the six mile Swilcan Burn, that for the last hundred yards crosses the fairway on it’s journey out to sea.
This hole has so many memories for me. I remember my practice round with Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome. It was like ‘Wow! We’re really here at St Andrews.’ For my first round I had a really early tee time and it was so cold but having my name called as the No.1 player in the world and on the Old Course was one of the most special moments of my career.
I remember taking a big, deep breath and hitting my driver down that wide fairway. The key for the second shot is not to be long so just aim for the middle of the green.
Hole 2 “Dyke”
Par 4, 400 yards
The old stone wall (The Dyke) forms the boundary between the Old Course Hotel and the adjoining 17th fairway.
I like to hit my 3-wood about 200 yards so I use that or my 5-wood, depending on the wind, to be on the right side, to give me a better angle to the green.
It’s a tricky green, there’s a ridge and a lot of undulations so make sure you stay on the right of the double green, where the pin is, or it will be difficult to even make two putts.
Par is a good score here.
Hole 3 “Cartgate” (out)
Par 4, 370 yards
A gate to an old cart track once crossed the course to the sea which used to be much closer.
There are bunkers left and right so a drive to the centre is ideal to set up a clear second shot. Avoid the big bunker to the left of the green. It’s deep and you can have a bad lie in there.
Hole 4 “Ginger Beer”
Par 4, 406 yards
David Anderson, known as Old Daw, was a famous ball-maker and had a mobile refreshment stall serving ginger beer during the 19th century.
A drive to the left side is the ideal. It’s one of the easier holes and you need to take advantage by being aggresive and hopefully making birdie. Avoid the bunker almost splitting this double green in half from the 14th.
Hole 5 “Hole o’cross” (out)
Par 5, 514 yards
The name refers either to a chasm the players cross on their approach to the green or a crucifix which legend reveals once stood here.
This can be a really difficult hole. I like to hit my driver left of the March marker stone which sits in the centre of the fairway avoiding a nest of six or seven bunkers on the right.
For the second shot, I laid up every day to about 100 yards from a deep valley in front of the green. It’s a birdie opportunity and I made only one on the three days of the tournament.
Hole 6 “Heathery”
Par 4, 369 yards
The green once consisted of earth, heather and shell fragments, hence its name.
It’s a tight and blind drive to keep to the left, but right of the bunkers (Coffins). I learned how to play a low draw and this is one of the holes where it came in very useful; it really helped me that week.
You have to take enough club to get over the little valley in front of the green.
Hole 7 “High” (out)
Par 4, 353 yards
The hole overlooks the Eden Estuary - a commanding position on the course.
This is a short par-4 hole with a dog-leg where the green is blind off the tee. I remember the big (Shell) bunker in front of the green. I went in it a few times that week but I was very lucky; I didn’t get into too much trouble. It also has a big double green it shares with the 11th hole.
Hole 8 “Short”
Par 3, 154 yards
As the name suggests, a short but tricky hole - one of only two par-3’s on the course.
My advice is always to ignore the flag and just try to make the middle of the green with your tee shot. Sometimes you just have to play smart.
Sometimes a hole looks easy but you can get into trouble, so my plan, after taking bogey on the first day, was always to try and put the ball in the middle of the green.
Hole 9 “End”
Par 4, 347 yards
Whichever direction the course was played (and it was often played in the reverse) the 9th marks to turning point.
At nine, I remember the wind was helping me that week. My notes from my caddie reminded me to hit over two bunkers (Kruger) to leave myself something like 100 yards in.
A birdie here on the final day of the tournament was crucial to give me a cushion over my rivals.
Hole 10 "Bobby Jones"
Par 4, 340 yards
Named in honour of the legendary American golfer who won the Open here in 1927 and the amateur Championship in 1930 - when he claimed four 'majors' in one year.
Again I was aggressive with this hole and took driver to keep the ball in the right centre of the fairway. Another shot I learned to play was the low punch with a 5 or 6-iron with a short follow through. The green is shared with the 8th.
Hole 11 "High" (in)
Par 3, 160 yards
Also shares its green with the par-4 7th but is regarded as one of the toughest short holes in links golf.
his hole can give you sleepless nights. Sometimes I took a 4-iron or a 7-wood because the wind is facing you. It's a really challenging par-3 and even if you make a bogey here you will be happy, so don't be too hard on yourself if you make four.
Each time I hit the green I said to myself 'Yes! I did it!' But that's not even half of it, because that green is so fast. Good luck!
Hole 12 "Heathery" (in)
Par 4, 314 yards
Fine examples of the seaside heather but it's no softie. Ask Paul Casey, whose 2010 Open chances ended here.
You have to be clear about your decisions when you stand on the tee - either lay up short of Stroke bunker and leave yourself a longer shot in or be more aggressive as I was on the second round in 2007.
Try not to see the hazards and the gorse around this hole or it will get in your head.
Hole 13 "Hole o'cross" (in)
Par 4, 407 yards
The largest green on the course, which it shares with the 5th hole.
It was pouring with rain on the last day in 2007 and I clearly remember having to hit a 5-wood into the green. It was playing really long with a carry of 200 yards to the green. I faced one of the longest putts ever in my golf career. Oh my God, it was 40 yards. But I'm very proud to say I was able to tap in for par.
Hole 14 "Long"
Par 5, 523 yards
As the name suggests, the longest hole on the course and perhaps the most strategic with so many ways to tackle it.
I was able to get on or close in two shots a couple of times during the tournament, which both led to birdies. My notes from my caddie said I need to play down the left side of the hole if I'm to get on and managed it twice, once chipping for eagle and once putting for eagle.
Hole 15 "Cartgate" (in)
Par 4, 414 yards
At last the town's skyline is brought into focus with the Cartgate bunker urging the player to steer clear of it.
In the last round one of my playing partners hit her ball out of bounds. it was raining very hard. I had my rain jacket on, my rain gloves, an umbrella and the wind was blowing. I've never been that cold in my life. But I remember that when I played this hole I was starting to feel comfortable with my game. I made bogey but I still had a four or five shot lead and I said to myself 'Okay this is happening, I'm feeling good'. I was focussed and I felt it was my time.
Hole 16 "Corner of the Dyke"
Par 4, 381 yards
The green is tucked into the corner Dyke wall which gives its name to the hole.
Teeing off, the fence and the road to the practice ground are very close on the right and out of bounds. I made sure I hit driver up the left side. For the second shot it's best to play safe and be just short to leave a putt or chip from the front of the green. I was happy to get this hole over with.
Hole 17 "Road"
Par 5, 453 yards
The old turnpike road forms the southern boundary of the hole.
It's an interesting tee shot but not really worth risking cutting off the corner of the hotel. I recommend taking a 3-wood off the tee then playing to the right to leave a shot to the green. Twice I made bogey on this hole and i was still happy with that.
In the last round I played into a bunker 50 yards short of the green but I played smart to the left, to avoid the Road Bunker. I had my second bogey but you can have a big number here. I still had a four shot lead so I was happy with that.
Hole 18 "Tom Morris"
Par 4, 357 yards
The subtle undulations of the green were the work of Old Tom Morris, and the shop bearing his name still overlooks it.
This is a beautiful hole in every way and it doesn't get better than this, even though I was a little nervous as i crossed the bridge and had tears in my eyes. It's a huge fairway and you're looking to just get the ball over the road (Grannie Clark's Wynd) to leave yourself a pitch to the green from about 130 yards.
It's still deceiving and you need to be smart. It's easy to leave your second shot short. It's a little uphill and a lot of players make three putts through the Valley of Sin in front of the green. I was able to hit an 8-iron just to the right of the flag and make two putts to win the tournament.