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Curtis Strange
Until someone shoots a 61 on the Old course, says Curtis Strange, he'll believe he still owns the course record. (Getty Images)

When is the Old Course record not the Old Course record?

Two players have shot rounds of 62 on the venerable Old Course at St. Andrews. They are no longer considered the course record, however, because of a controversial decision by the St. Andrews governing body.

By Doug Ferguson, AP Golf Writer

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) -- Curtis Strange set the course record on the Old Course at St. Andrews with a 62 during the old Alfred Dunhill Cup in 1987, a feat now recognized only by his memory and a silver memento.

His wife, Sarah, made a sterling silver scorecard of his record round that Strange hangs on the wall in his office.

But it’s not in an official record book. Brian Davis matched the 62 in the Dunhill Links Championship in 2003. That doesn’t count, either.

The St. Andrews Links Trust, which manages the Old Course, has thrown out previous records because the Old Course has been lengthened. The official course record is 64 by Bradley Dredge in the 2006 Dunhill, matched last year by Mikko Ilonen.

“I’m disappointed,” Strange said. “But in my mind, it’s a wonderful memory for me. As far as I’m concerned, I still have it. And until someone shoots 61, the course record belongs to me.”

It was a peculiar decision, considering that golf and its courses continue to evolve. Augusta National now measures 7,435 yards, yet the home of the Masters still recognizes its course record as the 63 that Nick Price shot in 1986 and Greg Norman matched in 1996. In both years, the course was 6,925 yards.

Raymond Floyd shot a 63 at Southern Hills in the 1982 PGA Championship when it was 6,862 yards. Tiger Woods tied the course record with a 63 in the second round of the 2007 PGA Championship when the course was 7,131 yards. Both remain course records.

“I think that’s a little shortsighted,” Southern Hills Head Professional Dave Bryan said of the St. Andrews decision. “The course is longer, but the equipment more than makes up for that. It’s a moot point.”

Not according to the St. Andrews Links Trust.

Trust spokesman Mike Woodcock said the 62s were thrown out when Old Course was lengthened -- by 164 yards -- for the 2005 Open Championship. Tiger Woods established the course record in the first round with a 66 in the ’05 Open, replaced by David Frost and his 65 in the second round, and by Dredge a year later in the Dunhill.

“The course was lengthened in 2005 for the Open, fairly substantially in one or two instances,” Woodcock said. “The decision was that the next low score would be the record.”

Asked about the changes in equipment to match the longer courses -- and how Augusta National and other major courses have left their records intact -- Woodstock said, “It is a difficult one. The only measure you can take is the length of the course.”

The Old Course has been lengthened again, with a new tee on the 17th making it 40 yards longer at 495 yards. With other subtle changes, the official card will be 7,305 yards. That’s a whopping 26 yards longer than in 2005.

It’s possible the course record could be established during the first round this year. Woodcock wasn’t sure, and some of that depends on the whether the R&A uses the new tee on the 17th.

Davis, meanwhile, took the news in stride.

“Just one of those things,” he said. “I can understand why there’s a new course record. It’s completely different. It’s hard to relate back in time. I’ll just have to get the new record.”
 

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