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The Open Championship: Hole-by-hole guide to Royal Liverpool Golf Club

Royal Liverpool Golf Club is one of the most iconic courses around and the Merseyside venue will have the world's best battling it out for the Claret Jug for the 13th time in July.

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Located in the small town of Hoylake, Royal Liverpool has had a big contribution to the amateur game and it was host of the inaugural men's amateur championship in 1885.

The first Open Championship held here was back in 1897 when amateur Harold Hilton claimed the spoils, while this venue was also the scene of the second leg of Bobby Jones' historic Grand Slam in 1930.

Having staged the Major for the 10th time in 1967, it was not until 2006 when the tournament returned to Royal Liverpool and it was Tiger Woods who lifted the Claret Jug for the third time.

Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy is the most recent winner here after claiming the spoils in 2014 and he can be backed at 15/2 to end his long drought for a fifth Major in next month's event.

This seaside links course presents one of the toughest challenges for the world's elite, with unforgiving rough, narrow tee-shots, deep bunkers and undulating greens just some of the aspects to negotiate.

If the wind picks up, which it often does, an ever greater test is presented, while dry, sunny weather will also make for a fast-running course and that presents another type of challenge. Woods famously only used a driver once during his 2006 victory.

Here is a hole-by-hole guide to all 18 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.

1 - Royal - Par 4

A tricky opening hole where finding the fairway is hugely important, but this is easier said than done. Bunkers in ideal driving distance are ready to gobble up any drive off centre (one on the left and two on the right), and players quite often take an iron to leave themselves a longer shot in but short of the sand trap.

A long, narrow green that falls off on both sides and is protected by bunkers left and right awaits next. Making par on the first is always a good score.

2 - Stand - Par 4

The second hole, which is the traditional 18th for members, is another tough hole that has bunkers placed in the driving area and will therefore likely see a lot of irons used off the tee.

With bunkers covering the front of the green, any front pin position is unlikely to be taken on and the back portion of the green will be a popular spot across the four days of competition.

3 - Course - Par 4

Played as the first for members, the third for The Open has an internal out of bounds running down the entire right-hand side of the hole, which doglegs sharply to the right.

Any slight push off the tee could result in disaster so expect to see a large portion of shots sent down the left, although anything pulled will end up in the rough and present a much tougher second shot.

Out of bounds is again a danger on the approach and the considerable bail-out area short left of the green should be a popular spot, especially if the wind picks up.

4 - Road - Par 4

Often playing downwind the fourth is driveable in length, but the fact there are four bunkers protecting an undulating green that is set at a 45-degree angle to the tee takes going for it in one out of the equation.

A tee-shot down the left-hand side of the fairway, which will often be with an iron, presents a great chance to set up a birdie opportunity as the majority will be coming in with a wedge.

However, anything left or right off the tee will find the thick rough and make it difficult to really attack the pin, taking birdie out of the picture.

5 - Long - Par 5

The fifth is the shortest par-five on the course and is seen as a real birdie chance. With the hole moving from right-to-left, a player who shapes the ball that way will be relishing this assignment.

There are two bunkers guarding the green, short left and short right, but evade these and birdie, or even potentially eagle, could be on the cards here.

6 - New - Par 3

The first par-three on the course is played slightly uphill to an elevated green that has a severe run off at the front, with bunkers left and right waiting to gobble up any loose shots.

Missing the green on either side presents a tough up-and-down situation and the short-game skills will be tested. Accuracy is the order of the day for this hole and finding the heart of the green is the smart play.

7 - Telegraph - Par 4

With a 250-yard drive required just to reach the fairway, the seventh is one of the toughest driving holes on the course and demands a clean strike off the tee.

Anything pushed left or right have bunkers lying in wait on the fairway, while really loose drives will end up in thick gorse which could start bringing high numbers into the equation.

Finding the fairway here is pivotal but that is not to say the approach is easy. With two bunkers front-left of the green, attacking a pin on that side is risky and aiming further right for safety is the smarter play.

8 - Briars - Par 4

Although players are required to hit over the out of bounds on the eighth, this doesn't really affect the world's elite and the question is more of where the tee-shot should be placed.

The further down you go the tighter the fairway gets and this increases the chances of running into the gorse on the left, so the smarter play is hitting level with the two bunkers on the right.

Finding the fairway should present a good chance at attacking the flag, although anything too short to a right pin will find a small run-off area and end up in the bunkers.

9 - Dowie - Par 3

Rounding off the opening is the par-three ninth and this one comes with its own challengers. A prevailing wind is usually gusting from right to left and this makes it harder when it comes to distance control.

The long green runs diagonally from left to right at an angle and there are two front bunkers to narrow the entrance further, while there is a lot of movement on this green to make holing putts very difficult.

10 - Far - Par 4

The 10th hole has traditionally been played as a par-five but the decision has been made for this to be a par-four for the 2023 Open Championship, making this one of the toughest holes now.

With mounds crossing the fairway at about 350 yards, players will have to come up short of those if they want to have a chance of finding a devilishly tricky green. The undulating fairway also means a level lie is hard to come by and, more often than not, the second will be played from a downhill, sidehill or uphill lie.

There is a very steep run-off area to the left of the green and a deep bunker waiting to catch any errant approach shots. Given the fact this used to be a birdie chance when it was a par-five, it is now a seriously tough hole. Make your par and run to the next.

11 - Punch Bowl - Par 4

The 11th hole shouldn't pose too many problems and could turn out to be a birdie opportunity for several in the field. The tee shot plays up to the top of a hill and, should you get over that, then a relatively short approach shot awaits.

Any errant approach could find its way into the two bunkers positioned front left and back right, but generally this should be seen as a birdie chance if the green is found.

12 - Dee - Par 4

A right-to-left tee-shot on the 12th is the perfect shape for the par-four 12th and nailing this will offer a chance to find the green, however, anything pushed right could end up in one of the three fairway bunkers.

There are no bunkers to fear on approach but that doesn't make this an easy green to find. A huge run-off area to the left comes into play if the dancefloor is missed, presenting a very difficult 20-yard chip to an uphill green.

It is the same equation for any misses on the right, with a tricky up-and-down facing the players.

13 - Alps - Par 3

This is a fantastic par-three that gives the impression from the tee that there is very little space out to the left, but there is more than the players think and a right-to-left shot that lands on the front of the green should have a chance of getting close to a back pin position.

Anything hit short when the pin is at the front will trickle back into the bunker and require a high-tariff shot just to get within 12-15 feet for par. A tough hole that par will be a good score on.

14 - Hilbre - Par 4

Another testing par-four that is a sharp dogleg from right to left and requires an accurate drive, as bunkers down the left and right of the fairway wait for any loose shots.

Approach shots that drift off to the right will hit the steep run-off area and present a tough up-and-down playing to the green above them, so aiming for the back left of the green is the percentage play here.

Wild shots to the left will end up in the thick rough and gorse, making par a very difficult score.

15 - Field - Par 5

This par-five has been lengthened significantly since McIlroy's win in 2014 and will play over 600 yards for the 2023 edition, although this could be greater in distance should the wind pick up.

Bunkers down the left-hand side, which were bombed over in 2014, now come into play after the lengthening of the hole, while two new sand traps on the right add to the difficulty of this tee shot.

With a bunker placed well short of the green, a lay-up shot is arguably more difficult than going for it in two and most players will try the latter if in range. Three bunkers protect the left part of a green that has subtle slopes and can be tricky to read.

16 - Lake - Par 4

With two bunkers on the left and one on the right, this is another demanding drive that will often see players lay up short of the sand traps and leave a long second in.

A large green is protected by four bunkers, two on either side, and an accurate approach is required to walk off of this par-four without dropping a shot.

17 - Little Eye - Par 3

The new hole at Royal Liverpool is the par-three 17th and this could have a huge say on who ends up lifting the Claret Jug next month.

What the wind is doing will impact massively on how far the hole is playing, with anything from a gap wedge to a seven iron potentially being pulled out of the bag.

Bunkers are positioned left and right, while the huge wasteland area at the front would leave around a 40-yard bunker shot back to the green and make par very difficult to obtain.

Fall-off areas to all sides make it imperative for tee shots to hit the green, as any misses will likely result in at least one dropped shot.

18 - Dun - Par 5

A stunning end brings about this par-five, which has seen the tee moved back some 50 yards and significantly to the right, while the out of bounds on the right has been brought in 20 yards to the left.

Staying left is the likely play here but that will bring the two bunkers down that side of the fairway into the picture, so an accurate shot is an absolute necessity.

If anyone wants to go for it in two, the out of bounds that runs all the way down the right will again be in focus as the hole curves that way.

Three bunkers on the left and two to the right protect the green considerably, making this a truly stunning closing hole that could see anything from eagles to double or even triple bogeys.

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