Golf The Open: R&A waters down fertiliser furore

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The Independent Online
OPEN OFFICIALS last night denied that an "out of control" member of the groundstaff was responsible for the knee-high rough at Carnoustie.

Asked about the state of the rough and claims that fertiliser was used to make it grow, David Duval, the world No 2, had said: "The R and A say that it's an out of control groundskeeper. I don't know what they were trying to accomplish." Sandy Lyle joined the criticism, saying that the long rough had turned the championship into a "joke".

However, Royal and Ancient officials insisted they were more than happy with the preparation of the course by links superintendent John Philp and the groundstaff, and that the weather was to blame for the punishing rough that sent scores soaring.

"That is totally untrue," Hugh Campbell, the chairman of the championship committee, said when asked about Duval's remarks. "We categorically deny that is the case.

"The greenkeeper has given us everything we asked for. I don't what he [Duval] is referring to and any problems we have had have been caused by the weather.

"We defined the rough in spring on the basis of an average growth and because of the wet weather we got a whole season's growth and we cold not cut it back quickly enough."

Sir Michael Bonallack, secretary of the R&A, insisted they had been merely "unlucky" with the weather. "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.

"If we had known we were going to get this growth of rough we could have widened the semi-rough, 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."