It is, of course, a gross exaggeration to suggest that even Heaven and Country Club would draw complaints from a threeball of professional golfers, but only just. The greens here for the One 2 One British Masters, are that bad, however, and heavy overnight rain did not help the situation. "They are the worst greens I have ever putted on," Ian Woosnam said.
Woosnam, who first completed a first round 70 and then added a 76, went on to suggest that the tournament should have been moved somewhere else, like Woburn, which hosted the Women's British Open only two weeks ago and where the greens are in excellent shape. "It doesn't do the sponsors any good or the Tour any good when we are playing for so much money and you have to putt on greens like that. They have gone and they are not coming back. It is a hard decision to have to make to move the tournament but at least Woburn had been prepared for a tournament."
The tournament director, Mike Stewart, said: "It is fair to say that we are all disappointed that the greens have not been of the standard we would expect for a tournament of this stature and the apology extends to everyone involved. We will examine why things went wrong and make sure we learn from the mistakes. I was aware three weeks ago that there was a problem with the greens, but they have deteriorated since then. In terms of moving the event, I don't think that was a realistic option. The actual construction of the site takes four weeks." Relocating the sponsor's pavilion by the 18th green, which offers an excellent view of the carnage, would have been a major problem apparently.
The second half of the draw got by far the worst end of the deal, having been interrupted on Wednesday afternoon and having to resume in a strong wind yesterday morning. Given that it was almost impossible to get up and down from off the greens, making them harder to hit was a turn of the screw too much for some. Twelve players departed without the aid of the cut, with backs just shading wrists in the excuses department.
Stewart investigated the rapid departure of Howard Clark after nine holes of his second round, at which point he was six over, but was happy the Ryder Cup man, who was penalised two shots for repairing the hole on the 13th instead of calling for a referee to do it, had a genuine shoulder injury. Germany's Sven Struver admitted to exhaustion after returning from America and had only one hour's sleep on Wednesday night, while Sandy Lyle left to be with his wife, Jolande, who is in hospital. David Higgins was left playing on his own after Fabrice Tarnaud (hip) quit on the front nine. The third player in the group had failed to resume after the first interruption on Wednesday.
The only man to finish below par in the morning was Stockholm-born, Delhi- raised Daniel Chopra, at two under after a 68. Colin Montgomerie lost his first-day advantage with a 76 and it was Robert Allenby who claimed the lead at four under with a 71, alongside Mark Roe, the pair also sharing a positive attitude to the circumstances. "It is the same for everyone, you can't do anything about it," said the Australian. "We are just fortunate to be playing for so much money."
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