Golf: Bonallack blames the bad weather

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The Independent Online
OPEN OFFICIALS last night insisted they had not set out to make the world's best players "look like idiots" despite admitting playing conditions were sometimes "impossible" at Carnoustie.

Players complained bitterly about the narrowness of the fairways and the rough, with the former champion Sandy Lyle accusing organisers of turning the championship into a "joke" by putting fertiliser in the rough to make it grow.

But Sir Michael Bonallack, secretary of the Royal and Ancient, insisted they had been merely "unlucky" with the weather conditions before and during the tournament.

"We don't set out to make the players look like idiots, far from it" said Sir Michael, who himself was in contention to win the Open here in 1968 before playing the last nine holes in 45. "We don't like to see the players struggling like this and I feel sorry for them but the great thing is the great players are still doing good scores.

"We didn't set out to make it as hard as this but the weather made the rough grow very quickly and with the wind it's a very severe test. You have to be unlucky to get that wind. We are in the middle of July, it's supposed to be the summer.

"With hindsight if we had known we were going to get this growth of rough we could have widened the semi-rough, and we did do some of it, but you can't cut the deep rough down because you would need a combine harvester and you can't do that on the eve of a championship."

Sir Michael also rebuffed claims that such a spectacle was short- changing the spectators, adding: "I don't think the spectators come to see players shoot very low scores."

Sam Torrance's chances of qualifying for a ninth successive Ryder Cup appearance all but disappeared as he was forced to miss his first Open championship for 27 years.

The 45-year-old Scot had to withdraw without hitting a shot due to a recurrence of a shoulder injury that has plagued him all season. His withdrawal was good news for Merseyside's Neil Price, the 23-year-old from Leasowe taking Torrance's place as first reserve and scoring a respectable eight- over-par 79.

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