GULLANE, East Lothian, Scotland -- Faldo. Els. Nicklaus. Watson. Trevino. Player.
A who's who of the World Golf Hall of Fame, right?
True, but this incredible collection of golf legends is also the list of champions who have won a British Open in the modern era at Muirfield, the treasured links that anchors Scotland's Golf Coast.
Muirfield, which will host the Open for the 16th time in July 2013, is widely regarded as the fairest of the nine courses in the rota. The mostly flat fairways don't punish good shots with bad bounces like some links and, therefore, doesn't tend to give up fluky one-off winners.
The 7,209-yard course has been lengthened by roughly 158 yards since the 2002 Open won by Ernie Els. Architect Martin Hawtree added seven new back tees (at holes 2, 4, 9, 14, 15, 17 and 18) and pinched a handful of bunkers closer to fairway landing zones and greens to "tighten up strategy," R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson said.
A land swap with The Rennaissance Club next door stretched the ninth hole by 50 yards. The par 5 runs all along the stone wall that dictates out-of-bounds, the last of the five holes on the front side adjacent to these walls.
Most holes at Muirfield chaotically amble in all directions, never simply playing downwind or into it. Finding snaking fairways in cross winds, while avoiding knee-high rough and deep revetted bunkers, remains the only way to contend for the claret jug.
"You're unlikely to win an Open Championship at Muirfield from the rough," Dawson said.