Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

A Venue That Lives Up to Its Quirky Renown

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

A Venue That Lives Up to Its Quirky Renown

Article excerpt

Royal Lytham & St. Annes is the Fenway Park of British Open venues. And this golfing bandbox seems to lead to just as many odd, idiosyncratic moments.

The 18 holes of the Royal Lytham & St. Annes golf club are quirky even by British Open standards. It begins with its location, wedged in a neighborhood of tightly packed, red brick homes that over the years have crowded and then enveloped the golf course on every side except the one barricaded by a railroad.

Royal Lytham & St. Annes is the Fenway Park of British Open venues with more nooks and crannies than an English muffin. And this golfing bandbox seems to lead to just as many odd, idiosyncratic moments.

When, for example, was the last major golf tournament that saw a pro player -- from another hole no less -- walk directly in front of another pro an instant before he was about to tee off? When was the last time this wandering minstrel of the links was on his way to a portable toilet?

But that's what happened Thursday as Scotland's Paul Lawrie was about to hit from the sixth tee when he suddenly saw Matt Kuchar sauntering across the roped-off sixth fairway in front of him.

"It can happen -- we're in our own wee world most of the time," Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, said later. "But he was quite funny when he put his hands up in the air. And I know he was oblivious to the fact we were there."

Royal Lytham & St. Annes is all wild hillocks and mounds that could hide a tank let alone a tee box. Kuchar saw a necessary destination and chartered a course -- the strangest form of playing through in a major championship.

After completing his trek, and mission, Kuchar found Lawrie and apologized.

It was far from the only peculiar thing that has happened at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, which is full of history and not short on eccentricity.

When was the last time you saw a player hit from a large puddle inside a bunker?

Usually there's a dry spot within the bunker where the ball can be dropped within the rules. Not this time. At least not in Keegan Bradley's opinion. He put on his rain coat, stepped into the greenside 15th bunker and splashed onto the green.

When was the last time Phil Mickelson tried to hit a shot right- handed with a left-handed club because his ball was resting against the right lip of a bunker? …

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