Of all the ways that an Open Championship course can break you—wind, rain, gorse, gloom—the most sinister of all are the pot bunkers that dot courses all over the United Kingdom. Imagine a hole dug straight down into the earth about 12 feet, ringed by sloping grass that guides any shot within a kilometer straight into its bowels. Trying to hit out of these is like trying to pitch out of a dumpster, and so it’s no surprise that these bunkers are where hopes, and scorecards, go to die.
Hideto Tanihara wasn’t having a good day already when he arrived at the 14th hole at Royal Birkdale; he’d carded four bogeys on the front nine. But he’d settled down and carded four straight pars … until he found the greenside bunker at 14. And that, my friends, is where his troubles began.
Twice Tanihara blasted out of the sand, and twice his ball stopped at the edge of the green, looked toward the flag, and then burrowed back to the safety of the bunker. It’s to Tanihara’s credit that he merely tried the same move a third time, this time successfully, instead of just slinging his club into the distance like the rest of us would have done.
Tanihara may well be done on Friday, but those bunkers … those bunkers are going to be devouring shots right on through Sunday evening.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.