Woosnam suffers from surfeit of sand

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The Independent Online
They had already said the rough was too thick, the fairways were too narrow, the wind was too blowy and, for all we know, the grass was too green and the black stuff too bitter. Yesterday Ian Woosnam tossed a new complaint into the cauldron at Druids Glen: there is too much sand in the bunkers.

Woosnam shot 70, one under par for the day and, at one under for the championship, he is handily placed for a tilt at the Murphy's Irish Open - although to listen to him after the second round you would have thought he was consigned to spending the weekend with the mother-in-law or, even worse, Howard Clark.

"The course is not too bad," Woosnam said, "but the bunkers are shocking. There's too much sand. I keep telling the tour not to put in lots of sand and nothing happens. If they took three inches out, there would still be plenty. I reckon courses put in lots of sand for amateurs. Professionals hate lots of sand. If the ball runs in, you cannot get a footing."

Not that he was an authority. Woosnam had 14 pars, three birdies and a double-bogey six at the fourth hole. He was in only one bunker all day and that, of course, was at the fourth. He hit a one-iron out of the sand (it is difficult enough hitting a one-iron off a Persian carpet) and his ball flew behind a tree. It will probably be argued that there are too many trees. He took six when he missed a putt from five feet.

"The greens are tricky," Woosnam said. "I had a lot of short putts and it's difficult to get them in. The fairways are too narrow here. I'm not a fan of rough around the greens. It's more consistent in America. Over here it can be clumpy in places. I've only been to a players' meeting once but nobody on the tour seems to listen, so what's the point? Nothing ever happens."

The little Welshman, who won the Irish Open in 1989, spared a thought for what he described as the "poor caddies." He said: "They are having a terrible time trying to rake the bunkers." If his wife, Glendryth, was caddieing for him, the complaint might carry more weight. As it is, Woosnam has a young professional caddie, Philip Morbey.

Alongside Woosnam at one under par is the Londoner, Ricky Willison, who this week has employed his wife, Alex, to carry his bag. The pair of them did exceptionally well yesterday with a 69 that included three birdies and a solitary bogey, at the first.

Willison managed to keep his wife out of the bunkers, which is just as well. The poor girl, no more than eight and a half stone, has to carry the bag in all four rounds. Until recently the European Tour allowed caddies to use a trolley in the first two rounds of a tournament but they have been banned on the grounds that it does not present a suitable image for the television cameras. "It's a nonsense," Willison said. "The Tour should concern itself with golf, not on how things look on television."

The bunkers were made even more troublesome yesterday afternoon by a downpour and play was suspended for half an hour because of thunder and lightning. Colin Montgomerie, who thinks Druids Glen is the sort of course the Tour should play on every week, had gone to the top of the leaderboard when play was halted.

Resuming at two under, Monty reeled off nine pars, followed by three successive birdies. Bernhard Langer, who had a 67 in the first round despite the fact that he was critical of the way the course has been set up, was in trouble at the 13th. His drive landed in the creek to the right of the fairway and, after taking a penalty drop, he laid up short of the lake. He escaped with a bogey five. However, Langer was in the water again at the short 17th and a double-bogey five there dropped him back to level par.

Gary Murphy, the 23-year-old former Irish amateur champion, remained on the leaderboard with a birdie on the 11th and an eagle three at the 16th. At that point Murphy, who received a sponsor's invitation to the championship, was four under par, a stroke behind Montgomerie. Murphy, however, dropped strokes over the closing holes and finished with a 71 to stand at one under, three strokes adrift of the leader Montgomerie.

After the first round the Dublin bookmaker, Sean Graham, cut Langer's odds to 9-4 and Monty's to 3-1. They had Murphy at 28-1, which did not seem at all generous, but the boy from Kilkenny may yet repay Murphy's with a suitably stout performance.

Scores, Sporting Digest, page 24