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R&A chief executive Peter Dawson promises that Muirfield will present tough challenge for this year's Open

Updated: Monday, 29 Apr 2013 11:38 | Comments

The famous Claret Jug at the Muirfield links
The famous Claret Jug at the Muirfield links

Muirfield's popularity amongst players as an Open venue will be tested by an extra 158 yards and "plenty" of rough for this year's Championship from July 18-21.

New tees have been added on seven of the holes, taking the overall distance of the course from 7,034 yards when Ernie Els won in 2002 to 7,192 yards, par 71 this summer.

The biggest difference is on the ninth, where a land swap with neighbours the Renaissance Club has enabled the tee to be moved back almost 50 yards - extending the par-five to 554 yards - with a new bunker added on the right of the fairway and bunkers moved closer to the green.

"We are absolutely delighted to be back at Muirfield for the 16th time," R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said.

"It's immensely popular with the players. Jack Nicklaus' comment about 'What you see is what you get' at Muirfield was perhaps directed at other links courses with blind shots and where more luck is involved.

"The ground here is relatively flat and every hole seems to be going in a different direction, but we will be setting the golf course up to challenge these golfers.

"The rough has been cut down over the winter but will regenerate over the coming weeks.

We will see the rough up and you are unlikely to win an Open Championship at Muirfield from the rough. The amount of rough is weather-dependent, but we will get plenty.

"It has been lengthened by 158 yards since 2002, but that is only a two per cent increase." 

"We are absolutely delighted to be back at Muirfield for the 16th time" - Peter Dawson

Dawson also re-iterated the R&A's stance on taking the Open to clubs like Muirfield, Sandwich and Royal Troon, which are male-only, after saying last week courses would not be bullied into changing their policies by the threat of losing the Open.

"We come for the golf course," he said. "To think we would not come to a course as wonderful as this is something we could not countenance. It's like taking the Boat Race to the Humber if you did not like (mayor of London) Boris (Johnson's) policies."

As with 12 months ago, pace of play regulations will be "applied stringently," with McArthur insisting the game's top professionals will be treated the same as 14-year-old amateur Guan Tianlang, who was penalised a shot for slow play during the Masters.

"We put a lot of importance on treating everyone the same," McArthur said. "People do have ways of getting round the system."

Dawson added: "The question then is, is the system working? All you can do is apply the rules. If the group is out of position they go on the clock and the experienced players catch up and they are fine.

"The young amateur did not have the experience and despite many warnings was caught out."

No player was penalised for slow play during last year's Open at Lytham, with Dawson adding that the pace of play was "the best we have had for a long time".

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