Mark Schlabach, ESPN Senior Writer July 21, 2023, 7:15 a.m. ET
CloseSenior college football writer Author of seven books on college football Graduate of the University of Georgia
HOYLAKE, England – Prior to the start of the 151st Open Championship this week, Australia’s Travis Smyth made it clear he didn’t like Royal Liverpool Golf Club’s new 17th hole.
“The pits are brutal,” said Smyth. “Very brutal.”
Playing for just 132 yards, the par-3 17th was protected by thick, deep bunkers up front and massive bunkers back and sides. Players braved strong winds from the tees, as they looked across the Dee Estuary in Wales in the distance.
Smyth, who plays on the Asian Tour, learned how brutal “Little Eye” can be when he got a double-bogey 5 in the first round.
In Friday’s second round, Smyth was the first player to qualify. Using a 9-iron, Smyth’s ball bounced twice across the court before hitting a hole. He raised his hand and received high fives from co-stars Brendon Todd and Romain Langasque.
Hole-in-one at 17!
Travis Smyth with a historic shot at Little Eye. pic.twitter.com/CkgTl2lvtt
— Open (@Open) July 21, 2023
Ace moved Smyth’s total to 8, so he won’t be around for the weekend at Royal Liverpool. But he will leave England with memories that will last a lifetime.
“It was amazing,” said Smyth. Bittersweet actually. I had a shock from the day before, making a double bogey, and I’m so happy I hit a good shot because I was so disappointed from the day before. Yeah, big surprise that it went in the hole.
“It was just the perfect distance, the perfect wind and the club. It all just came, and it was a moment I will never forget.”