By Andrew Both
KIAWAH ISLAND, South Carolina (Reuters) - Scotland's Martin Laird hopes Kiawah Island's resemblance to St Andrews will provide a jolt of nostalgic energy and prompt him to fire up at the PGA Championship starting on Thursday.
Though Kiawah Island is not a true links course in that many shots must be hit over hazards without the option of being able to keep the ball on the ground, the course is adjacent to a wide, sandy beach and the sea air wafting off the Atlantic almost makes Laird feel at home.
"There are a few holes out here that look proper linksy and the scenery, it's definitely got that feel," Laird told Reuters after a practice round on tournament eve.
"It’s not dissimilar to St Andrews, with the big beach running along (the course). My caddie said 'this looks like St Andrews, but St Andrews is a lot easier to get to'."
St Andrews is the home of golf, and though it is accessible only by a couple of single-lane roads, the Ocean Course on the east end of Kiawah Island is even more remote.
There is only one road onto the island, and the nearest hotels in Charleston are an hour's drive away.
Most players, however, have rented houses on the island, thus avoiding what was a nightmare daily commute from Charleston when the 2012 PGA Championship was played here.
Laird, who finished equal 42nd back then, says a good score this week could vary from the mid-60s to the mid-70s, based on how difficult the PGA of America sets up the course.
"You could make a 10-shot different on this course, depending on set-up," said Glasgow-born Laird, a four-times PGA Tour winner, including once this season in Las Vegas.
"Off the back tees, with tough pins, mid-70s is a great score but I've got a feeling they're going to move a lot of tees a whole lot up. Not 10-20 yards, but 50-60 yards.
"If they put pins in tough spots this place could be as difficult as you’ll ever play."
(Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Ed Osmond)