Fearsome 6th hole the ultimate test at Birkdale

SOUTHPORT, England (AP) Martin Kaymer was approaching the sixth tee during a practice round at Royal Birkdale when he told his playing partners that he was calling it a day.

He walked up the fairway and off into the distance, leaving Paul Broadhurst and Richard Bland to debate the tee shot.

Quite a few other golfers might like to avoid the hole at this British Open.

A 499-yard par 4 this year, the left-to-right dog-leg has played the hardest hole on the course in each of the last two Opens at Birkdale - in 1998 and 2008. In '08, the scoring average was 4.77, making it the second most difficult hole at an Open Championship from 1982-2016 after the 17th at St. Andrews in 1984. There were only 10 birdies there all week.

Dustin Johnson was asked what he would call the hole if it was to be given a name, like they do at St. Andrews and some other Open courses.

''Probably words I couldn't use in a press conference,'' the top-ranked Johnson said.

Henrik Stenson said he was sure it will be the toughest hole this week. Jason Day said making par there would be like making a birdie. Jordan Spieth sees it as a ''big challenge.''

The signature hole on the front side, No. 6 requires a precise drive and a long second shot before you get to an elevated and well-contoured green protected by three bunkers at the front - two on the right and one on the left - and surrounded by dunes.

Possibly the most famous incident on the hole came in 1998, when Mark O'Meara spent four minutes looking for his ball after his second shot drifted right into knee-high grass. Suspecting his ball was lost, he started back down the fairway only for a spectator to find it and pick it up.

The ruling was O'Meara's ball had been identified within the allotted five minutes, and he was granted a free drop. He made bogey and went on to win.

Players on the tee are faced with a pot bunker on the right (the inner bend of the dog leg) at about 280 yards. On the left, there's a bunker at 230 yards and another at 310 yards.

Hit the drive down the middle but too far, there's rough and beyond that a ditch at the top of the bend. Most players will have an approach of between 200-220 yards.

Day spoke of hitting a 2-iron off the tee and even laying up short of the greenside bunkers with a long iron.

''That's one of those holes,'' Day said, ''where you can make a big number quick.''

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