Westwood sees red over Gleneagles' greens
Lee Westwood said the greens were unacceptably wet and that the 2014 Ryder Cup here would be a disaster "unless they rip them up and re-do them".
By Lewine Mair at Gleneagles 28 Aug 2008 Daily Telegraph
Lee Westwood, whose 72 left him four shots behind Gregory Havret on the first day of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, made it plain that the greens on this PGA Centenary course were not in the same five-star league as the hotel.
When the question first arose as to what Westwood thought of the soggy surfaces, Westwood said a hazy "Mmmm" before quoting his grandfather. "He always told me that if you didn't have anything good to say, you did better to say nothing."
Yet it was not too long before his grandfather's words had been forgotten and he was saying precisely what he thought. Predominantly, his greatest fear was that they might try to patch things up over the next few years instead of taking more extreme measures.
"I've put a green down at home which is like concrete and we have had almost as much rain as they've had here," he said. "They really do need to dig them up and put in the right kind of construction underneath. If you are going to build a course in a Scottish valley you must expect rain, so rain is not an excuse for having bad greens I'm afraid."
One way and another, he deplored a situation in which the best professionals in Europe – he in fact was one of them – were struggling to hit the hole from two feet. "This is no good for the sponsors, it's no good for the Tour and it's no good for Gleneagles, which is fabulous."
Westwood's major putting mishap occurred at the fifth, where he was on the green in two before taking four putts, three of them from 18 inches. Oliver Wilson, one of his playing companions, did virtually the same thing – and it was for Wilson and others still trying to make this year's Ryder Cup side that Westwood felt the most strongly.
"Getting in the Ryder Cup for the first time is a big deal. They are going to be feeling pressure as it is and you don't want to be standing over a three-footer with so much doubt in your mind."
As he said, there were not just heel prints and spike marks to contend with, but ruts and extra imprints left by the hole-cutting implement.
Martin Kaymer, the man best-placed to knock him from the top 10, did no better but Ross Fisher did. Fisher, who is lying 13th behind Kaymer and Ian Poulter, recorded a 72.
Of those in the hunt for a Faldo wild card, Darren Clarke returned a 72 and Colin Montgomerie a 74.
At a time when Gleneagles were busy compiling a statement about the record amount of rain and a strong agronomy plan, neither Clarke nor Montgomerie wanted to be drawn on the greens.
Clarke backed up Westwood to the extent that he confirmed that it was possible to build surfaces which could shrug off any amount of water, but he said that he needed to stay positive. "I'm trying to love this place," he explained.
As for Montgomerie, he has an official role with the Johnnie Walker people. "I'm chairman of the tournament committee, not a green-keeper," he advised.
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