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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 July 2005, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
In through the back door
Brian Davis
By Brian Davis
European and US Tour pro

Jean van de Velde on the first green at St Andrews

Now I'm buzzing. I'm in the Open by the skin of my teeth but that doesn't matter. If you're in it, you can win it.

It seemed a shame to stage the Open without the course record holder anyway!

I know it doesn't count any more because they have lengthened the course since but my 62 in the final round of the Dunhill Links Championship in 2003 shows I know my way around.

It'll be tougher now though, with the sun-baked fairways and firm greens posing a more difficult problem than in October when it is softer and the ball does not run as far.

I've always felt if I could win a major it would be round St Andrews and this time I've got nothing to lose.

I've got a funny feeling about it being a European winner this time

The first time I played here I didn't like it, but it has grown on me and I'm very comfortable now.

I've got a pretty good record at links golf and I also held the course record at Kingsbarns for a couple years. I think it's because I thrive on the shot-making and I'm a good bad-weather player.

They've lengthened the course at St Andrews for this year but I worry that until they look at the ball technology we're going to be faced with a situation where they make these changes and then three years later they are obsolete.

And really, by adding more length, it just plays into the hands of the longer guys and hits the average ones.

I do hope there's a bit of wind, not like in 2000 when it was like playing on the Costa del Sol. It gives the shot-makers a bit more chance.

Without it they will have to make the greens the major defence, with the pins placed tight to the bunkers.

Whatever happens weather-wise, course knowledge round here is the real key, and you're hoping to avoid all the bunkers as Tiger Woods did when he won in 2000.

How to tackle the infamous Road hole at St Andrews

You're better off facing a 30-40ft putt than attacking the flag and catching one of the deep traps.

Off the tees, as long as you keep left, both going out and coming back, you'll generally be clear of trouble as the out-of-bounds is all down the right.

You have to take advantage of the reachable holes, such as the par-four 12th, and hang on for a par at the more difficult ones.

And if you can make fours pars on the 17th during the week you'll probably pick up at least three shots on the field.

Luck of the draw also helps. You can play the front nine into the wind, and by the time you've got to halfway, the tide turns and the wind swings back round into your face. You only need 10-15mph for the whole situation to change.

Tiger Woods
Tiger might be good, but he's not that good!

As for the competition, Tiger Woods will obviously be up there, having gone one-two at the last two majors, but he's rated 3-1 with the bookies.

He might be good, but he's not that good! I'll be keeping my cash in my pocket.

But I've got a funny feeling about it being a European winner this time.

It's sad for Padraig Harrington to have to pull out because of the death of his father, as he has got all the shots and is playing well, while Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn and Luke Donald are also on form.

And yours truly? I might just have to go and set a new course record!

  • Brian Davis files monthly reports for BBC Sport during his season on the US and European Tour.

    Fired up by play-off miss
    24 May 05 |  Golf
    Back from across the pond
    11 May 05 |  Golf
    Watching brief at Augusta
    01 Apr 05 |  Masters 2005

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