Poulter labels Open pin positions 'a joke'

Poulter labels Open pin positions 'a joke'

Ian Poulter today labelled some of the pin positions for the opening round of the Open at Muirfield as "a joke," while Phil Mickelson called for tournament organisers to "let go of their ego."

Poulter was two under par with five holes to play but carded four bogeys and a birdie to return a one-over 72 on a course playing extremely hard and fast.

The Ryder Cup star then took to Twitter to complain about elements of the course set-up, writing: "Unfortunately the guys this afternoon will struggle with a few pin positions. 8th hole is a joke, 18th needs a windmill & clown face."

Former champion Stewart Cink also wrote on Twitter: "Muirfield greens really baking out in the sun. Keep an eye on #8, #9, and #16-18. Overall the greens are the fastest I've seen in the Open."

R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said on Wednesday that he felt Muirfield was the best prepared Open course in 14 years, despite admitting watering was necessary to keep it "alive".

Mickelson, winner of the Scottish Open on Sunday, fell victim to the fast greens as he three-putted the 18th in a round of 69 and said: "Number eight is probably the worst one that you'll see. It won't stop until it collects in a little level area about eight feet away.

"Very difficult conditions and playing early gave us at least a fighting chance. I love the fact that I shot under par, because it's a very challenging course out there.

"I don't expect anybody to beat the lead from the morning wave, I just don't think it's possible.

"Hopefully they (the R&A) will let go of their ego and set it up reasonable (tomorrow), but you just never know."

Former Masters champion Zach Johnson, who carded a five-under 66 to set the clubhouse target, said: "You feel like in the morning it's going to be a little bit easier just because there's less traffic, specifically around the hole.

"And so this afternoon it's already getting a little dicey on some of the pins. A couple of the pins were pretty tough, but you know that coming into it. It's not like they were on a crevice or on a tier. They certainly were playable.

"Eight was dicey. Thomas Bjorn knocked it 10 feet by. If I hadn't seen that, there's no way I would have hit it to a foot. I would think they're going to have to use some water on those greens tonight...if they want to keep that grass, because it's getting very baked - very, very baked.

"The only course that comes to my mind that was this dry was Hoylake (in 2006). It's playable, but you've got to really, really pay attention around the pins, around the hole."

R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said comments from players would be taken on board, but insisted the course was "far from unplayable".

"We do have some fantastic weather," he told the BBC. "We have the conditions here we really like to have, hard, fast, running conditions and we've set up the course to test the players' course management strategy as much as anything.

"It is part of the links course's defences in this type of weather, the course is playing very short.

"We are obviously very conscious of player comment and we will take it into account tonight when we decide our greenkeeping strategy overnight, just how we are going to set the course up tomorrow.

"We are very happy with the scoring, it's about what we would expect. Five under par is currently leading with a good number of players under par. I do understand that some players get very frustrated.

"Ian Poulter I know bogeyed three of the last four holes, hardly likely to be in the best of moods, but Ian's comments will be noted and we'll have a look at it.

"We are still very satisfied that the course is playable but very testing. (It is) far from unplayable."

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