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  Saturday, 21 July, 2001, 02:02 GMT 03:02 UK
Jones legend lives on at 17
Bobby Jones plaque
Even Jones came a cropper on the 17th
By BBC Sport Online's Stuart Roach at Royal Lytham

Cut into the front of a fairway bunker on the trap-infested 17th hole is a piece of granite more significant than any other item of Royal Lytham memorabilia.

A plaque marking the spot from which Bobby Jones struck a crucial mashie shot to all-but clinch his victory here at the 1926 Open highlights a doubly significant spot.

Not only does it mark the point on which Lytham's first Open Championship was effectively decided, it also serves notice that even the legendary Jones found trouble on this hole.

No hole at Royal Lytham St Annes has more bunkers to negotiate.

No par four has more yards to cover.

New bunkers to the right of the fairway (taking the total number to a staggering 21) now encourage players not to overcook their drive, making for a long approach on the dogleg hole.

Infamous stumbling block

All in all, it is one of Royal Lytham's toughest tests.

Even Friday's early starters, bathed in sunshine and free from the burden of a seaside wind, found trouble.

By the time the hole had welcomed its 100th visitor of the day, only three had managed birdie.

The first of those had come from the first group, in-form Swede Niclas Fasth serving little notice of the nightmares to come.

Jean Van de Velde, no stranger to late round horror shows, racked up a bogey in the second group, but it was in the three behind that things started to go really wrong.

Jesper Parnevik's surge up the leaderboard came to a grinding halt at 17 as he missed the green to the right then duffed his chip straight into a bunker.

His share of the lead had gone, but Parnevik was happy to have only shed one shot.

Jesper Parvenik in action
Parnevik was troubled at the infamous 17th hole
Alongside him, American Scott Hoch suffered a similar fate, but the pair's misfortune was nothing compared to the third member of the group.

Japan's Toshiaki Odate was so far left with his approach that he needed the help of the spectators to find his ball.

"Left a bit, forward, right there," shouted a group from the packed grandstand.

Odate thanked them, hacked out and gracefully accepted an eight on his way to an 80.

Lytham's remarkable magnetic sand continued to cause problems at 17 throughout the morning.

With so many bunkers littering the route, there is always the danger of finding one.

But finding three is hard to swallow.


Peter Lonard suffered the fate when he found sand to the left, just short of Jones' plaque.

The Australian sensibly chipped out, but then found a greenside trap with his third shot, before shanking his escape into the next trap along.

Tom Watson, in the same legendary bracket as Jones, also tasted a bit too much sand, an attempted carry from a huge trap to the right of the green flopping into the bunker that had completed Lonard's hat-trick.

Their hapless statistics may have had something to do with the fact that so many groups had become log-jammed behind the threesome of Phil Mickelson, Nick Faldo and Robert Allenby.

Phil Mickelson
Mickelson was the first to find sand on Friday
On paper, it looked like the dream round to follow. In reality, it was painfully slow.

Twenty minutes after the previous three had vacated the green, the trio ambled up the fairway like three old codgers playing a club friendly.

Mickelson had already become the first player of the day to find sand on Jones' side of the fairway and the trio eventually limped away with faces as long as the hole itself.

But none of them could have been feeling as bad as Mark McNulty.

The Zimbabwean was two over for his round and comfortably heading for cut survival when he carded a seven at 17.

Clearly shaken, another seven followed at the final hole and six dropped shots in the final two holes of the day meant it was bag in the boot time.

McNulty, like the rest of the Lytham field, did not need a plaque to tell him where the nightmare had started.

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