| ||Hole 1 - Par 4, 473 yds: Charl Schwartzel |
Demanding from the tee due to the bunkers right and left. I usually hit three wood to leave myself short of the big slope. Depending on the wind and the temperature, your approach shot can vary from a three iron to an eight iron. It’s a great opening hole, and if you walk off with a par you feel like you’ve got your round off to a very good start.
Hole 2 - Par 3, 154 yds: Rafael Cabrera-Bello
It’s an eight or nine iron depending on the pin position and the wind. If you’re short, your ball will run all the way back down the slope but, similarly, if you’re long, it’s tough too because you’ll leave yourself with a downhill chip. Another factor is the tree on the right hand side, because if the pin’s on that side of the green, then you can easily catch one of the branches.
Hole 3 - Par 4, 465 yds: Lee Westwood
Definitely one of the toughest holes on the course. Normally into the wind, so it’s a tough drive and the bunkers on the right come into play. If you get your drive away and depending on the wind, it’s a five or six iron in. The green’s tricky because there are lots of sections to it and a couple of different tiers, which makes an already difficult hole even tougher.
Hole 4 - Par 5, 552 yds: Rory McIlroy
I’d usually take a three wood from the tee, because you only need to land it about 250 or 260 yards to catch the downslope on the hill. That’ll leave you a mid to long iron into the green and, ideally, you want to be able to shape the ball from left to right to hit the best approach shot. After a very tough start, it’s probably the first real birdie chance.
Hole 5 - Par 3, 203 yds: Miguel Angel Jiménez
The club choice depends on the breeze because it can be very gusty, but when I had the hole in one in the last round when I won in 2008, I hit a four iron as the flag was at the back left. That was a huge boost because it’s a tough par three with the bunkers around the green, and you need to be very accurate from the tee.
Hole 6 - Par 4, 418 yds: Francesco Molinari
If the tee is back, it’s a tricky shot because the wind is usually coming across you, and there are bunkers left and right. If you take driver you need to be aware of the bunker on the right and if you take your three-wood you need to be careful of the left trap. A mid iron to the green is a tricky approach because the green slopes severely from right to left.
Hole 7 - Par 4, 396 yds: Pablo Larrazábal
When the course is firm, you’re probably looking at taking a three iron or five wood from the tee to find a good spot on the fairway. If the pin is at the back you have to hit a great approach to get anywhere close to the flag. But when the pin’s at the front or in the middle, you’ve got a much better chance of making birdie.
Hole 8 - Par 4, 391 yds: Martin Kaymer
Became a very tricky hole after Ernie’s changes. The wind is usually from the right so the key, and my strategy, is to hit the ball over the little ditch on the left side of the fairway, because that takes the bunker out of play. Second shot is usually a wedge but the green is tricky as you have to pay a lot of attention to the breaks.
Hole 9 - Par 4, 449 yds: Robert Rock
Bunkers on both sides of the fairway mean you have to be precise off the tee, because if you find them, it is virtually impossible to reach the green in two. The second shot is inviting into a green which slopes towards you, so it holds your approach. A bunker guards the front and on the left there is small run-off area where you’ll do well to save par from if you’re in there.
Hole 10 - Par 3, 184 yds: Thomas Björn
From the tee it is anything from a five all the way up to an eight iron. One of the changes Ernie made was to put a bunker at the front right of the green, which makes the tee shot a little bit trickier than it used to be. The green always seems to be one of the firmest on the course for some reason, so it can be quite tough to get close to the flag.
Hole 11 - Par 4, 416 yds: Simon Dyson
Good chance for a birdie here. It’s always a driver from the tee for me which, if you find the fairway, only leaves you with a wedge into the green. You’ve got to be careful to take some of the spin off your approach, otherwise it can spin off the green. I normally hit a high draw in and hopefully land it on whatever level they choose to put the pin on.
Hole 12 - Par 5, 531 yds: Graeme McDowell
Delighted to see this returned to its former glory as a par five, because it’s a classic hole. If you get your drive away you can go for the green in two and hope to walk off with an eagle, but there’s also trouble down the left which you need to be wary of. If you lay up, you’d then try to flick a wedge in there close to give yourself a decent birdie chance.
Hole 13 - Par 4, 470 yds: Anders Hansen
One of the most difficult driving holes on the course; too far left and there are two bunkers and the trees to deal with – too far right is another bunker. If you do find the fairway, you’re still left with a four or five iron for your approach, but fortunately there aren’t too many contours on the green. If you walk away with a birdie here, you’ll be very happy.
Hole 14 - Par 3, 179 yds: Ian Poulter
A very clever hole that plays nine yards uphill which is tough because if it is downwind it is difficult to keep the ball on the right level. A front pin means you have to pitch it a yard on the green. If you don’t do that it comes back 30 yards; if you go long it’s a horrible putt. A back pin means you have to fly it all the way but if you go long you have a tough chip. Most people would take three and run here.
Hole 15 - Par 4, 489 yds: Justin Rose
The bunker on the left now probably encourages you to go with a three-wood from the tee, which will leave you with a three-iron into a tough green, where a lot of players tend to end up in the same bowl on the left hand side. When the pin is there it can be a birdie hole, but on any other day you’re usually pretty pleased to walk off with a par.
Hole 16 - Par 4, 383 yds: Peter Hanson
A beautiful hole. Harder to find the fairway than you think but if you do, you’re probably only left with a wedge. The green can be tricky, and after the re-design they can make the hole much tougher by putting the pin on the back left. After the 15th you think you can afford to relax a bit, but you really can’t here, because the 16th can jump up and bite you.
Hole 17 - Par 5, 610 yds: Alvaro Quiros
Normally I’d hit a three-wood to try to shape the ball from right to left. If I get my tee shot away, I can normally go for the green with a two or a three iron, remembering to avoid the branches on the trees on the side of the fairway. If you miss the green it is not impossible to get up and down, so you’re really looking to make a birdie here.
Hole 18 - Par 5, 539 yds: Luke Donald
This has been made a lot tougher over the past couple of years. It’s a tricky drive because it’s a difficult angle but, with the bunkers on the right now gone, if you manage to avoid the bunkers on the left and get a decent drive away, there’s a chance of going for the green in two; but with water all around, there’s definitely plenty of potential risk as well as reward. I’m sure it’ll bring back happy memories when I play it again this year.