A hole lot of history
'9' Par four 433m
It may have seen some changes in recent years, but the ninth hole of the Composite Course was the scene of one of the more memorable shots in Open history in 2002 when James Kingston recorded a rare albatross. In difficult and rainy conditions, the hole, then played as a par five, saw the South African hit driver from the tee, before his seven wood rolled in for an early birthday present. Kingston turned 37 the following day. The shot must have made an impression on tournament organisers, as the next year it was reduced to a par four at only a short reduction in distance. Remarkably, it was the second career double-eagle for Kingston, who recorded one in India two years earlier. He went on to finish runner-up at Fanling in 2004 and 2005.
'10' Par four 336m
Bounded by out of bounds on the right and with a green protected by a small creek on the front side, the par-four 10th is a somewhat innocuous opening hole for those starting their round on the back nine, averaging 3.89 in 2007. Rick Valentine, playing the championship as an exempt amateur, made it a hole to remember in 2001 when, starting at the 10th on the first morning of the tournament, he knocked his nine iron straight into the cup for an eagle two. The youngster rocketed straight into the lead, something of a rarity for local golfers over the years. The fast start, however, did not continue and Valentine slipped down the leaderboard but finished as the leading amateur.
'12' Par three 132m
Introduced as a new hole in 2005, the par-three 12th has been the site of much drama, despite its relatively junior status as part of the famed Composite Course. UBS puts a 1kg gold bar up for grabs to the first professional to ace the tricky hole, something that Robert-Jan Derksen wasted no time in doing. His nine iron started right of the hole, before drifting back on the wind and hopping straight into the cup for the Dutchman to pocket the then US$15,000 gold bounty. Liang Wenchong repeated the feat 12 months later when his nine iron also rang true. Fortunately for the China number one, the value of the bar had risen to about US$20,000. This year it is worth about US$24,000.
'16' Par four 376m
Padraig Harrington?s famous 2003 victory may be best remembered for his birdiebirdie finish and the 20-foot birdie putt he holed at the last to win the title, but his real heroics had come about 30 minutes earlier. Lying one shot behind South African Hennie Otto, the Irishman?s approach to the par-four 16th ran through the back of the green. Facing a treacherous chip to the traditional Sunday backright hole location, Harrington?s delicate flop shot with a wedge helped him save par and set up the grandstand finish.
'18' Par four 375m
The final hole of the Composite Course is legendary in the annals of Asian golf as one of the finest closing tests. Fittingly, it has been the scene of numerous great moments, ranging from Bruce Crampton missing a putt to help ?Mr Lu? to victory in 1959 to last year?s tense finale between Miguel Angel Jimenez and Robert Karlsson. Perhaps the most talked about finish came in 2001, when Jose Maria Olazabal came to the final tee off successive birdies that rocketed him into contention. After leaving his drive in the rough, the Spaniard conjured up a five iron that found its way through the trees and over the water to end beside the flagstick for a winning tap-in.
A shuttle will operate from Sheung Shui KCR station to Hong Kong Golf Club throughout the tournament. Departures will be every half hour from 7am to 6pm today and tomorrow; and every 15 minutes from 8am to 7.30pm on Saturday and Sunday.
A free shuttle bus to Hong Kong Golf Club will operate on Saturday and Sunday from Admiralty (outside Admiralty Centre) and Kowloon Tong (at the To Fuk Road exit at Kowloon Tong KCR Station).
From Admiralty and Kowloon Tong: 9am, 9.30am, 10am, 10.30am, 11am, 11.30am, noon and 12.30pm
From Hong Kong Golf Club: 3pm, 4pm, 4.30pm, 5pm, 5.30pm and 6pm
The time - give or take a few minutes - to get to Tsim Sha Tsui from Fanling by KCR train and MTR: 59
Hong Kong's David Freeman will do well just to make the cut, according to Sportingbet: 2,000-1
The number of countries represented this year: 31
The price of an entry ticket on Sunday - Thursday and Friday (HK$120), Saturday (HK$250): HK$300
The Open has never been decided in a play-off: 0
The winner will be laughing all the way to the bank: US$416,660
Pros and amateurs will have visions of grandeur this morning: 144
(And ties) will be left after 36 holes tomorrow night and: 70
Will be left standing on the 18th green on Sunday evening: 1
And here we are today celebrating the half century of the Open: 50