Open Sandwich: What the 2011 field said about the Royal St. George’s test

The scene of epic duals in fiction as well as in reality, the Kent course is all set to host its 15th Open.

Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, knew a thing or two about golf.

Indeed, the famous match between 007 and Goldfinger took place at a thinly veiled Royal St George's and the match featured descriptions of the course that will feel very familiar by the end of next week.

At the first hole, Fleming notes "you are likely to end up with a nasty first chip-of-the-day out of rough", later a Goldfinger approach takes a "bad kick short of the green", at the par-3 sixth the author notes that the tee shot might call for anything from an 8- to a 2-iron depending on wind, and there are references to the layout's "undulating hilly fairways".

The book was first published in 1959 so let's get up-to-date.

In 2003, Tiger Woods famously lost his ball off the first tee, Thomas Bjorn has his hopes of glory dashed in a bunker, and Ben Curtis pulled off one of the great Major Championship coups.

The last renewal there was in 2011, when high wind and fierce rain provided a significant third round challenge and Darren Clarke ultimately lifted the Claret Jug.

The winner himself said of the Sandwich course, "it's just a real, real tough, stern test," but let's see what the rest of the field said 10 years ago.

Any clues for next week?

Patience and preparation

Lee Westwood: "More than anywhere on The Open Championship rota, you accept you're going to get bad breaks, but you get good breaks, as well. You're going to need patience, it's going to be tested. Strategically it's a good golf course. You have to plan your way around it."

Louis Oosthuizen: "Your practice rounds have to be so on the spot. Your course management has got to be really good around here and, like any links golf, you're going to have a bad bounce, but you're also going to have good bounces. So you're going to have shots going straight towards a bunker and it takes a bounce away from it, and remember you're going to have it the other way, too."

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Off the tee

Martin Kaymer: "The tee shots, they're not so difficult because the fairways are pretty wide. You just need to avoid the bunkers. That's always a penalty if you're in the bunker."

Darren Clarke: "The fairway bunkers are very, very penal."

Charl Schwartzel: "It's so difficult to predict what it's going to do when it hits the ground."

Ian Poulter: "It's not my favourite in rotation. You can hit a lot of great golf shots, certainly off the tee, and get some bad bounces. It amazes me how you can keep the ball on the 17th fairway. (I hit) the middle of the fairway and it's a hog's back, so it could go right or left. It went left and it's in the rough."

Jason Dufner: "There's a bit of luck on this golf course. You can hit great shots and they kind of roll away from holes or into bunkers or into the rough."

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Tom Lehman (with a different take): "The balls that travel much further in the air tends to land in spots which are a lot more bouncy, a lot more humps and bumps. And balls that fly shorter, like mine, tend to land on more flat spots. That's one thing I noticed a long time ago playing here: shorter is flatter and you get nice, straight bounces."

The wind factor

Lee Westwood: "Downwind there will be a few 5-irons or 6-irons off the tee but, if the wind gets up, the green might become driveable on those holes. So it makes you think constantly and adapt to the situation."

Ian Poulter: "In (today's north) wind direction there's certain holes which are very, very tough, playing a lot more difficult than if the wind was the prevailing wind. If it's coming from the south you don't feel quite so bad, you've got chances. When it's this way around, the downwind holes are not that easy. You just can't stop it anywhere near the pin. You actually feel relieved when you get into the wind and you've got a chance to stop a 5-iron, as opposed to not being able to stop a wedge."

Stewart Cink: "The hardest part of a really windy day is keeping your composure. Like the eighth. I hit it in the middle of the fairway, had 200 yards to the flag, normally that's 5-iron, and it was as good as I could hit a 3-wood to get it to the hole and on the green. Felt like I made an eagle but I made only a par, so you're not getting the reward for well-struck shots. And poorly struck shoots are just blown off the map. You're getting a lot of negative feedback and not much positive feedback. So it's really tough to just stay composed out there."

Pin positions

Phil Mickelson: "I've noticed that on the easy holes the pins have been in ridiculously hard spots. I wish it would go the other way. I wish the hard holes would have the hard pin placements and the easy holes would have the easy pin placements, because then we'd have some birdies and we'd have a lot more bogeys and doubles. But I don't set it up. It's not my job. It's my job to find an effective way to play it. But the way it's set up is going to lead to par, par, par, par. So we don't see too many birdies other than maybe the par-5s."

Luke Donald: "I feel like some of the hardest holes have some of the hardest greens, and I feel like some of the easier holes have some of the flatter greens, which is a little counter-intuitive and sort of a different way of doing it."

Approach shots

Phil Mickelson: "The first hole is a great example of what I see throughout the rest of the golf course. There are three bunkers in front of the green that you have to clear, and the front of the green is pitched away pretty severely, so you have to be in the fairway to get the ball stopped. If you're coming out of the rough and it doesn't have any spin, there's no way you'll stop the ball on the green."

Rory McIlroy: "Sometimes it's hard to run the ball into these greens because they're so undulating, it can catch the wrong side of a slope and it can go 20, 30 yards away from the green. You're going to really need a very strong ball flight. It's all about the second shot, because the greens are so slopey that you're going to have 25-, 30-footers all day."

Martin Kaymer: "Obviously the greens are very slopey, very difficult, and some approaches seem to be impossible sometimes, but that's fine, we're the best players in the world, it should be tough."

Rickie Fowler: "On downwind holes you're not able to stop the ball and you've got to play some shots that land short and run up."

On and around the green

Luke Donald: "Some of the greens are a little bit more severe than other Open Championships I've played in."

Martin Kaymer: "The key shots this week are going to be those six- to ten-footers for par that you have to save. You will miss greens and you will have some long putts with a lot of slope, and it's very tough to hit them to a foot or to two feet."

Ian Poulter: "The greens are tricky."

Adam Scott: "It's tough to get the ball close. You're not going to have that many opportunities. You're going to have to make some par putts, so you'd better putt well over the weekend."

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