Furious Els turns the greens blue
South African criticises lack of watering
Luke Donald hunts down the world No 1 ranking at Wentworth, and the course echoes to the sound off-words issued by golfers in distress. What else is new? Only that the man responsible for the course's makeover, Ernie Els, was the one leading the criticism, sending expletives rattling through the magnolias behind the 18th.
The Big Un-Easy had had enough. His four-iron approach at the last ricocheted off the rock face doubling as a green into the evil bunker behind, costing him the eagle chance he thought his tee shot deserved.
A par was enough for a highly creditable 70, bettered by only three players all day – Donald being one of them – and a share of fourth on five under par. But this was not sufficient to stem the lava flow.
"I am pissed off," Els said. "Conditions are tough. It has been blowing all night and this morning. I've asked them to put water on the bloody greens and then I spoke to JP [John Paramor, the chief referee] coming up the 15th, and he said, 'We did water it last night'.
"I said, 'You have to triple that. You have a damn 30mph easterly breeze blowing, so put fucking water on the greens.'"
Els raged on: "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. So now we have another situation where the guys aren't going to be very happy. It is difficult enough as it is with conditions the way they are, but the tour has really got to play ball now, and the greens staff. I can't keep taking this. At some point they have to start listening.
"I am with the guys on this. I hit a shot on 18, a four-iron that pitched pin high and goes through to the back bunker. So if they put water on the damn green you at least have a chance to hold the fucking green.
"Just play ball with me. I would love to talk to them but they don't bloody listen. I cannot control the wind, and it seems like I can't control the bloody green staff either.
"I spoke to them last night and I spoke to them again this morning, but it is like talking to this wall behind me. I am fed up with this. It is a difficult but fair golf course, but just set it up properly and we will have a championship."
As you might have gathered, the wind was for the second day a wicked presence, gusting between 10 and 25mph. In the trees there was no way of knowing from which direction it was blowing. The scorecards handed in bore blue testament to that. Nine players posted scores in the 80s, with James Kingston topping out with an 85.
So much for the mortals. Donald takes a two-shot lead into today's final round. He is 11 under par after dropping a 20-foot birdie at the last to equal the low score of the day, 69, achieved also by second-placed Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, who closed eight shots adrift.
A top-eight finish today is all that Donald requires to re-establish hegemony in the world rankings. Funnily enough, he did not see the demons in the greens identified by Els.
"There is some inconsistency, but the greens were not something that my caddie and I thought about," he said. "This is a tough place that demands patience. It is not geared to the bomber but someone who can work his way around it. I did that."
The overnight leader, James Morrison, was listing badly by the turn. The freak front-runner of day two carded a pair of quadruple-bogey eights in an outward nine of 44, converting a four-shot lead into a seven-shot deficit.
Paralysed by embarrassment, dejection and fear in front of his family, friends and record crowds, Morrison cut a disconsolate figure en route to an 81, 17 more than Friday.
Lee Westwood survived a seven at the 13th to post a score of 70. The world No 3 has known terror of his own during the lost years a decade ago when he slipped from four in the world to 261. These days, disappointment does not extend much beyond the odd variable such as the pulled tee shot on 13.
His ball found the fairway bunker, where he left it twice, the second time taking a penalty drop after it plugged in the face. That might have been enough to see Morrison in the Priory. Westwood finally splashed out with a seven-iron and sank a 30-foot putt.
On the par-three next he lipped out for the ace, which, had it stuck, would have landed him a rather fetching BMW. "I liked it as well," he said. "Just my colour. Nice white leather, and the steering wheel was on the right side, everything."
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