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Road works at Scottish course worry McDowell

Graeme McDowell believes the decision to change the signature 17th hole at St Andrews could spoil the drama at next week's British Open.

other Updated: Jul 09, 2010 01:18 IST

Graeme McDowell believes the decision to change the signature 17th hole at St Andrews could spoil the drama at next week's British Open.

The newly-crowned US Open champion played the newly lengthened 'Road Hole' during a practice round ahead of next week's major at the 'Home of Golf'.

And while he didn't criticise the changes - which have incorporated a new tee and extra 35 yards - from a professional point of view, he nevertheles feels they will be detrimental to the watching public.

Over the years, the penultimate hole at the Scottish course has been at the centre of numerous Open dramas.

In 1978, Japan's Tommy Nakijima was in contention in the third round but putted into the road hole bunker before taking a quintuple bogey.

Six years later, American golf great Tom Watson found the road at the back of the green to drop a stroke to hand Seve Ballesteros his first Open title.

But McDowell fears such memorable moments will be a thing of the past as players will now approach the 490-yard par four far more cautiously.

“Were the changes necessary?,” McDowell, speaking at the Scottish Open here on Thursday, said.

“I don’t know. It was a fantastic hole with a seven, eight or nine iron in your hand. It’s going to be an unbelievably good hole with a three, four or five iron in your hand.”So I mean, I’m going to play it really conservatively. I don’t think I’ll be trying to get the ball to the putting surface. I think I’ll be laying up to the front edge of the green to most of the pins.

How you approach shots on a Links (seaside) course such as St Andrews is usually dictated by the weather and Northern Ireland’s McDowell is predicting some high scores if the wind is against at the 17th.