Taichi Kho was in one of the greenside bunkers on Royal Liverpool’s closing par 5 in two shots Thursday during the first round of the 2023 Open Championship.
It took him eight shots (with a penalty stroke in there) to get the ball in the cup. Nearly pin high in two shots, eight more before he was walking of the green.
The 18th at Royal Liverpool is proving to be one of the more difficult closing holes in recent major championship history, and it looks as if it could provide a huge swing down the stretch on Sunday.
Kho wasn’t spared, carding a 10.
Then there was Justin Thomas, a two-time major champion, who had a 9 on the hole. No surprise that those two are bringing up the rear on the leaderboard.
The 18th is a beast of a par 5, even if there are opportunities for a birdie with two good shots.
Open Championship 2023: Leaderboard, tee times, hole-by-hole
Jorge Campillo, in the second-to-last group, carded an 8. Phil Mickelson also added an ocho. In the final group, Seungsu Han was 2 over for the day stepping on the 18th tee and made a triple-bogey.
But why is it so tough?
First, there’s internal out of bounds lining the entire right side of the fairway, from near the tee box and all the way to the green. The out of bounds only a few feet from the fairway, meaning anything right could be in trouble.
— NUCLR GOLF (@NUCLRGOLF) July 20, 2023
At the green, there are five greenside bunkers, three on the left and two right. Those on the left proved disastrous Thursday, perhaps a preview of what’s to come down the stretch.
The first-round scoring average was 5.12. While 28 percent of players made birdie or better, 22 percent made bogey or worse. The percentage of time someone in the sand got it up-and-down? 25 percent.
Kho and Thomas were major victims to the difficult 18th on Thursday. Meanwhile, co-leaders Christo Lamprecht and Emiliano Grillo made birdie on the hole. The fellow leader, Tommy Fleetwood, carded a par.
Good shots are rewarded, but any golfer who is off just a bit could have a sour taste in their mouth the rest of the day.