PADRAIG HARRINGTON was the last winner of the Open at Royal Birkdale when he beat Ian Poulter in 2008.
The Irish star beat the Englishman by four shots, thanks to two birdies and an eagle in the back nine.
It was the second of his three Masters in a golden 15-month spell that also saw him win the USPA title.
Here he picks out his five memorable holes – and SunSport fills in the gaps with a guide to the other holes.
It was the second of his three Majors in a golden 14-month spell that also saw him win the USPGA title shortly after his brilliant Birkdale triumph.
In SunSport’s guide to the famous old Merseyside course, we give you the lowdown on all 18 holes.
Then Padraig picks out his four ‘killer’ holes — the ones that look most likely to decide the destination of this year’s Claret Jug.
He also recalls his brilliant final-round approach to the 17th hole, regarded by many as one of the finest shots in Open history.
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DOWN TO A TEE
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(Par 4, 448 yards, stroke index 11)
A tough opening hole, often rated as one of the most difficult on the course.
An accurate tee shot is vital in order to have a chance of attacking the pin, which is a very demanding shot. Green is protected at the front by three pot bunkers.
A LOT of people rate this as the toughest opening shot on the Open rota.
And it can be, especially in the wind and rain – but only if you let it get to you.
When players pull out their driver here, I think to myself: ‘Why would you do that? With out of bounds all down the right and that huge mound on the left, why do you need to add more stress to the shot?’.
It’s nerve-wracking enough, so my strategy is to take a three wood or a long iron and leave myself a longer shot to the green.
Sure, you’re probably just shifting the pressure to the second shot , but at least you’ve had time to draw breath – and hopefully put your ball in play.
Make your four, get out of there, and get on with your day.
(par 4, 422 yards, SI 3)
A SLIGHT dog-leg left played into the wind, with two bunkers on the right of the fairway.
The green is well protected by bunkers and rough banks.
(par 4, 451 yards, SI 7)
THE drive needs to favour the left of the fairway for a clear second to the green but with two bunkers on the left this needs accuracy.
Bunkers protect the green and the re-contoured surround will leave a tough recovery if you are wayward.
(par 3, 200 yards, SI 15)
A WELL-BUNKERED green does not gather the ball on the longest of the par threes.
The hole is played from an elevated tee to a green that sits some 30ft below.
It is the lowest section of the course.
(par 4, 346 yards, SI 13)
A DOGLEG left to right and the first real risk/reward hole.
At 346 yards the green should not quite be reachable to most.
But the longer hitters may wish to take on the dogleg across the corner, although it is risky with deep rough and a small pond to the right.
(par 4, 499 yards, SI 1)
THE drive must avoid the bunkers on each side of the fairway.
The hole requires a long second shot to an elevated green protected by bunkers to the front and surrounded by dunes.
The green is large and well contoured with various difficult pin positions.
THIS is the toughest hole on the course, no question about it in my mind.
It’s a very awkward tee shot because there’s a big camber in the fairway, which is unusual for a course where the fairways are generally flatter than at any other Open venue.
The ideal line is down the left side, but you have to lay back from the bunker at just over 300 yards off the tee – and there’s another nasty bunker if you stray too far right.
That all adds up to a pretty long second shot to an elevated green, protected by three deep bunkers.
It’s one of those holes where you just want to get it up and around the green, and then chip and putt it if you have.
You’re always happy walking off here with a par.
(par 3, 177 yards, SI 17)
REQUIRES a firm shot over some rough country to an upturned saucer-shaped green, protected by devilish pot bunkers.
The shortest of the par 3s.
(par 4, 458 yards, SI 9)
BUNKERS mean a very accurate drive is needed and the second is played to quite a large green, protected by deep bunkers.
The tricky putting surface has some very deceptive borrows.
(par 4, 416 yards, SI 5)
THE semi-blind tee shot needs to be placed correctly to find the fairway.
The green is slightly elevated, making club selection important.
Bunkers at the front will gather anything short and there is trouble long too.
(par 4, 402yds, SI 14)
FAIRWAY bunkering creates the need for a well-placed drive to open up the green.
Longer hitters may take a driver to clear the hazards, but deep rough lies to the left and any shots beyond the sand may run out of fairway.
(par 4, 436 yards, SI 8)
THIS hole demands accuracy from the tee and for the second shot.
The green is well contoured and the pin positions make the landing area on the green quite small and club selection is vital.
HITTING off an elevated tee is always more difficult, especially if the wind is blowing – which it certainly did in 2008 – and this is one of the most exposed parts of the course.
It’s a dogleg to the left, and you’re aiming at a pretty small target off the tee.
You want nothing to do with the ditch down the right, although if you go there you really are a long way off line.
The fairway bunkers are cleverly spaced out, so you have to be very precise in picking your spot, and committing to it – and deciding how much of the corner you’re prepared to cut off.
The elevated green can easily catch you out. By that, I mean it’s easy to get caught between clubs for your approach.
The green has a lot of contours, and if you’re not on the same level as the flag you’ll do well to avoid a three-putt.
(par 3, 183 yards, SI 16)
AN attractive short hole, long enough to make the green look tiny.
Deep bunkers and banks of rough grass protect the target.
It is the third par three and one of the finest holes on the course, due to its subtle contouring.
(par 4, 499 yards, SI 4)
A TESTING hole made difficult by the bunkering at drive length.
It requires a long and accurate tee shot to allow the second to hit a beautiful green with its background of tall sand hills.
Most will need a good short game to get up and down for par.
(par 3, 200 yards, SI 18)
THE last of the par 3s, it is played from an elevated tee which is protected from the prevailing wind.
The green surround has several deep bunkers eagerly waiting to gobble up a misdirected approach.
* HOLE 15
(par 5, 542, SI 2)
BIRKDALE’S longest hole, features 15 bunkers.
Any putt from behind the hole will be one of the quickest of the round and will break a little more than first expected.
THE first of only two par fives on the course.
And you’re kind of freaked out when you get there, because they’ve given you nothing all the way round, so you stand on the tee thinking you’re desperate to make birdie here.
But that is a dangerous mindset, because this is a tough hole – the 17th is the only giveaway birdie, although knowing that brings its own pressure. But that’s for later.
This one has plenty of trouble lurking – 15 bunkers, strategically placed in clusters, and plenty of gorse bushes, mainly down the right.
Then you have to try to finish below the flag, because any putt from behind it will be like lightning.
To be honest, five isn’t a bad score here, especially if the weather gets up. If it was the second or third par five, you’d probably think that way on the tee – but that’s not how it works.
(par 4, 438 yards, SI 12)
THIS hole needs a long carry from the tee over rough ground.
The second is played to an elevated green that is well protected by deep bunkers and hollows.
* THE MIRACLE ON 17TH STREET
HARRINGTON rates his approach shot to set up his final round eagle at the 17th, a five wood from 272 yards that finished a few feet from the flag, as “the greatest shot of my career” .
But, remarkably, he almost didn’t take it on! He explained: “I had a downhill lie, and the gap between the two bunkers at the front of the green looked about the size of a pinhead.
“It was quite a risky shot, because with the flag at the back, it’s not easy to make birdie from those bunkers.
“But my playing partner, Greg Norman was past me off the tee, so I knew he could go for the green from where he was. I didn’t know I was only two ahead of Ian Poulter, who had already finished, just that I was three clear of Greg.
“I thought if he makes eagle and I lay up and make par I’ll be just the one shot ahead, and he’ll have the momentum going down the last.
“This was my chance to finish it off. I took my favourite club, the five wood, and I couldn’t have hit it any better.”
(par 4, 473 yards, SI 10)
THIS excellent finishing hole is a long par four, with out of bounds down the right of the tee.
It requires a long second shot to a well-bunkered green.
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