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Road Hole bunker controversially changed

One of the most famous bunkers in golf, the deadly greenside trap on the 17th hole at St Andrews, has been radically altered, causing "uproar" in the Scottish town.

The Guardian newspaper has reported that the size, shape and position of the Road Hole bunker had been changed, without any request for such action by the Royal & Ancient, the St Andrews-based governing body for the sport outside the U.S.

The changes have upset the locals. David Malcolm, a past captain of the New Club at St Andrews, told the newspaper the whole town was "in uproar".

"Tampering with the bunker is going too far and its loss is a tragedy," he said.

The Road Hole is known as one of the hardest par fours in the game, largely because of the deep and dominant bunker that protects the green at the end of a narrowing, undulating fairway.

The bunker, however, has now been moved back from the putting surface and its height reduced by around two feet, altering the character of the hole completely, The Guardian reported.

Countless players have seen their British Open dreams disappear in its sand.

In 1978, Japan's Tommy Nakajima took five shots to get out while in 1990 Italian Costantino Rocca took three during his playoff with eventual winner John Daly.

In the 2000 Open, David Duval's hopes of catching Tiger Woods vanished when he took four shots in the Road Hole bunker.

The changes appear to be a result of complaints made by professionals at the 2000 Open, some of whom claimed that the angle of the sand against the sheer front wall made it impossible to extricate the ball.

Peter Dawson, the secretary of the R&A, said: "We did not ask for these changes and it is evident that they have altered the nature of the hole.

"I'm not sure anyone likes it very much. The changes have been noted and we will be in discussion about them...I'm sure this work will be reviewed."

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