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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 July 2006, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Hoylake horrors
By Rob Hodgetts
BBC Sport at Hoylake

Luke Donald
Donald escapes a bunker on the 4th in his final round

Hopes were high for a British winner but our young guns failed to fire.

In what has become a familiar summer ritual the expectation exceeded the performance.

Britain's current crop of leading players are making waves in the game, with David Howell ranked 10th in the world and Luke Donald 11th.

And with three other players inside the world's top 30, the home talent was well fancied to mount a serious challenge at Hoylake and end the seven years of hurt since Paul Lawrie last won in 1999.

But this wasn't just unfounded patriotism again.

Donald, with his iron control well suited to this cerebral course, was rated as low as 25-1 - short in golf terms - to win by the bookmakers.

And his name cropped up regularly in a cross-section of opinions from golf experts in the media.

So what went wrong? It's Britain's home major after all.

"There is a lot of media and a lot of attention, but the English players want it so much, sometimes it backfires on them," said the 28-year-old Donald.

The traditional thinking is that players from these shores have an advantage at the Open with their greater experience of links golf.

We don't play this type of course all year

Simon Khan

But Donald, who forged a formidable amateur reputation on the US college circuit, insisted that theory was outdated.

"Everything I do in my swing is geared to hitting it higher and farther. That's very much against what you need on a links course," said the Englishman.

"Most people are doing that, even over here in Europe. It's not an excuse. Of all the four majors perhaps the US Open would be more favoured to my game.

"I felt like I had a good chance but I'm still trying to figure out how to play well at the Open. But if I'm playing well, I don't see why I can't win one."

Another Englishman Paul Casey, 29th in the world and on fire on the European Tour, also spent most of his formative years in America and endured a miserable weekend, with two triple bogeys in five holes on Saturday.

"Of the majors, this would probably be the most difficult one for me to do well at, and maybe something like the Masters would suit my game best," said the 29-year-old Casey.

"I can understand the pressure put on all the (British) guys, although I'd hate to think it's the reason they haven't played well."

The question of having more experience on links courses doesn't wash though, because there's plenty of Americans, for example, who have done well at the Open with no background whatsoever in the bump-and-run game.

David Howell
David Howell looks for answers in the Hoylake rough

But Essex's Simon Khan, ranked 70th in the world, wonders whether most British players who grew up inland can claim to have any links heritage anyway.

"We don't play this type of course all year (on tour)," he said. "The Irish Open used to be on a links at Portmarnock but apart from that we don't play links.

"The Aussies, Ernie, guys like that who play all over the world, they can liken this to a sand belt course in Australia.

"It's like a Royal Melbourne with the run-offs and the variety of little shots around the green. We've gone away from this. I'd love if we played more courses like this."

The British and European failures at Hoylake come at a crucial time in the calendar with September's Ryder Cup looming large.

Of those most likely to face the Americans near Dublin, Howell, Colin Montgomerie, Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley all missed the cut, while Donald, Casey, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Jose Maria Olazabal all sunk without trace at the weekend.

But Donald says nothing should be read into some of the Hoylake horrors.

"The Ryder Cup is a different game altogether," he said.

"I've not played the K Club but I believe it's very much like an American course, not linksy like many other courses in Ireland.

"They are always well fought battles, and I'm sure it will be a good match this year."



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