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Five key holes at the British Open

media Tiger Woods plays his approach to the 18th hole in practice AFP

The British Open returns to Northern Ireland after a 68-year absence this week at Royal Portrush for the 148th staging of golf's oldest major.

Here, AFP Sport takes a look at five key holes on the 7,344-yard, par-71 Dunluce Links which could decide who lifts the Claret Jug on Sunday:

No 5: 374 yards, par four

-- The fifth is a classic risk-and-reward par four. Many players will try to reach the green with their tee shots, so expect plenty of birdies. But the green is situated on a cliff-top, with out of bounds only two yards over the back. "White Rocks" will be a favourite with spectators, thanks to its spectacular views overlooking the Causeway Coast.

No 7: 592 yards, par five

-- The longest hole on the course, the seventh could either be reachable in two shots or play as a traditional three-shotter depending on the wind. One of two new holes, along with the eighth, it has been added since the Open was last held at Portrush in 1951. A downhill tee shot will need to avoid a bunker on the left, with a narrow approach to the green.

No 16: 236 yards, par three

-- Named "Calamity Corner", this par three could spell the end of many a challenge on Sunday afternoon. Lengthened to a daunting 236 yards, the hole will be difficult avoid dropping shots at over the week. With all shots missed short and right falling away, many players will look to find "Bobby Locke's hollow" to the left of the green. The South African supposedly decided to aim left during every round of the 1951 Open, and made par every time. "It's going to be a good hole, especially if the wind switches, like it's supposed to, and it's going to play into the wind," said world number two Dustin Johnson.

No 17: 408 yards, par four

-- Despite its name of "Purgatory", the penultimate hole will provide chasing players with a decent chance of a birdie. The longer hitters will be able to drive the ball over the hill, with the ball rolling towards the front of the green. "I feel like it's a quirky hole, for sure, because it's not really drivable," said England's Justin Rose. "You hit driver over the top there about 300 yards and it gets down within 20, 30 yards of the green."

No 18: 474 yards, par four

-- An exciting final stretch is finished off by another par four with a downhill tee shot. Depending on the wind, players may lay up with an iron off the tee. Surrounded by a large grandstand, the 18th green slopes from right to left. "It's a great hole if you have four to win. By hitting an iron, even if you pull it left, you're not reaching the trouble," said Rose. "But if you need birdie to force a playoff, for example, you'd probably hit driver."

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