Lee Westwood sees red over Gleneagles' greens

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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.

And that the 2014 Ryder Cup here would be a disaster "unless they rip them up and re-do them".

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.

Justin Rose, who is probably safe enough in his eighth slot on the European points list had a level-par 73, while Soren Hansen, who is a little more shakily placed at ninth, had a 71. As for Wilson, who is hanging on by his finger nails to the 10th and last automatic spot, he was round in 76. "I'll have to do better," he said, ruefully.

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.

Players back Faldo

Ian Poulter sprang to Nick Faldo's defence yesterday, insisting that the Ryder Cup captain had not given him a nod for a wild card. "Nick's far too professional," he said. Nick Dougherty and Graeme McDowell added their praise, expressing their desire to learn from Faldo.

source:- The Telegraph

Response from Lawrie and Gallacher quick to jump to defence of Gleneagles

On a day when frustrated golfers were queuing up to criticise the Gleneagles greens after the opening round of the Johnnie Walker championship, homegrown Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher refused to join the baying mob.

Former European Tour order of merit winner Lee Westwood, in particular, was scathing in his condemnation of the putting surfaces at the PGA Centenary course, describing them as not fit for the Ryder Cup - due to be held at Gleneagles in 2014 - and calling for them to be "ripped up".

The Perthshire course has had to contend with almost three times the monthly average of rainfall and both the European Tour and the club have insisted work will continue to be done ahead of the Ryder Cup in six years.

Press and Journal columnist Gallacher, who shot an opening round of two-over-par 75 despite carding a triple-bogey 7, was keen to offer a case for the defence.

He said: "The greens are soft, but I spoke to the greenkeeper and he said it had rained every day in August. It is a shame for them because you cannot do anything about the weather."

Aberdonian former Open champion Lawrie, who was one shot behind Gallacher after a 76, said: "Normally when we come here the greens are great, but the weather has made them very soft.

"There is no point slagging them off, it is the same for everyone and we have to get on with it."

Gallacher was pleased with his display apart from a blip after the turn. He finished seven shots behind first round leader Gregory Havret, who fired a stunning five-under 68 for a two-shot lead going into the second round.

Gallacher said: "I played great. I would have been two under, but for two holes. I three-putted the second (Gallacher's 11th) and then lost a ball at the third so losing four shots in two holes set me back.

"If I play the way I did the other 16 holes I will be in good shape."

Lawrie made the best start in European Tour history when he aced the 10th, his first hole, at this tournament in 2000, but this time round his start left him with an uphill struggle.

He said: "I made it hard for myself going bogey, double bogey for the first two holes, but apart from that I played well and, hopefully, I can keep it going.

"I probably had the worst of the conditions, but I played solidly and putted atrociously. But I was not the only one who struggled on the green out there."

Defending champion Marc Warren admitted to some first tee nerves, but was well in contention after a level-par opening round.

He said: "I had a few butter-flies in my stomach on the first tee. It was a nice feeling to be announced as the defending champion, I would like to hear that more often."

Colin Montgomerie is hoping to make one final push to get into Nick Faldo's Ryder Cup team that heads to Valhalla in three weeks. The team will be finalised after Sunday's final round. The Scot will need a wild card even if he wins this week and is well placed on one over par, one shot behind Justin Rose, who currently occupies one of the three remaining automatic places on the team.

Darren Clarke is also trying to impress captain Faldo and he carded a one-under 72.

Peterculter's Greig Hutcheon carded one birdie - a 4 at the ninth - as the Challenge Tour hopeful enjoyed a solid round of 76.

Source:- Press and Journal

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