HOYLAKE, England — Before the start of this week’s 151st Open Championship, Australia’s Travis Smyth made it clear that he didn’t like Royal Liverpool Golf Club’s new 17th hole.
“The hole is just brutal,” Smyth said. “So brutal.”
Playing to only 132 yards, the par-3 17th is protected by thick rough and deep pot bunkers in the front and cavernous bunkers on the back and sides. Players face a stiff crosswind from the tee, as they look across the Dee Estuary at Wales in the distance.
Smyth, who plays on the Asian Tour, learned how brutal “Little Eye” can be when he carded a double-bogey 5 in the first round.
In Friday’s second round, Smyth became the first player to ace the hole. Using a 9-iron, Smyth’s ball bounced twice on the green before jarring the hole. He raised his arms and received high-fives from playing partners Brendon Todd and Romain Langasque.
Hole-in-one on 17!
Travis Smyth with an historic shot at Little Eye. pic.twitter.com/CkgTl2lvtt
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 21, 2023
The ace moved Smyth’s total to 8 over, so he won’t be around for the weekend at Royal Liverpool. But he’ll leave England with a memory that will last a lifetime.
“It was amazing,” Smyth said. “A bittersweet actually. I had a shock of the day before, made double bogey, and I was just really happy I hit a good shot because I was just so disappointed from the day before. Yeah, huge surprise that it went in the hole.
“It was just the perfect distance, perfect wind and the club. Everything just kind of came together, and it was a moment I’ll never forget.”