Ian Poulter risked reigniting his feud with Colin Montgomerie yesterday when launching a savage critique of the Bahrain course designed by his former Ryder Cup captain. "Simply the worst greens I have ever seen," said the Englishman. "They are embarrassing."
Poulter made his comments after a level par 72 left him eight off the pace in the first round of the Volvo Golf Champions at the Royal Golf Club in Bahrain. He could not contain his rage at the undulating putting surfaces and Montgomerie was in the Twitter firing line.
"Played great today – 35 putts, missed one green," wrote Poulter. "Apparently the architect wanted to make a statement with the greens. He did that alright – they are &%$#."
The pair supposedly made up at last year's Ryder Cup after a long-standing enmity and what this controversy will do for their relationship remains to be seen. "Archeologists would have a field day at this golf course," said Poulter. "There are hundreds of elephant and dinosaur remains buried under every green."
Montgomerie also shot a 72 – which included a triple bogey at the fifth – which leaves him down in a tie for 67th. In truth, the Scot must have been expecting some criticism, despite the organisers being generous to the players with a collection of kindly pin positions. The whisper is that Montgomerie, himself, was surprised when he saw the severity of some of the slopes, although as he has been handsomely paid to put his name to the layout he could hardly complain.
Others could, however. And as Paul Casey predicted in the build-up, most definitely would. "He is clearly going to get a bit of stick from the players," said Casey. "It's almost like the plans came in for the greens and they got multiplied, significantly. I mean, Monty knows he's got a target on him this week."
Casey, however, showed it was possible to score. A final-hole eagle saw him post a front-nine 31 (he started on the 10th), which hauled him to a 67, three behind the Swedish leader, Johan Edfors. "The 258-yard five-wood was the best swing I made all day," said Casey. "There were times when I wasn't sure I would shoot under par, so it was just a wonderful way to finish."
Sergio Garcia is alongside Casey after a bogey-free start to his season. The former world No 2 has fallen to 80th in the rankings and will be praying this event can provide the turning point.