If you didn't expect conditions like that going out there this week, shame on you – Harrington
IAN POULTER and Thomas Bjorn led a chorus of criticism about Muirfield's marble-slick greens and vicious pins during the first round of the British Open.
Yet Irish aces Padraig Harrington , Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke declined to join the detractors, even after one of the toughest Thursdays in memory at the Open.
"That is what Muirfield should be like on Sunday afternoon, the fear is where it's going," Bjorn intoned gravely after his two-over-par 73.
Poulter suggested the pin at 18 was so crazy, all the green needed was "a windmill and a clown's face". He racked up four bogeys and a birdie in the last five holes of his 72.
"It was tough," Harrington agreed after a first-round 73 in which he said: "The greens got really, really quick this afternoon.
"I think I used my putter 37 times," added the Dubliner (right). "And I putted well! My pace control was excellent. A couple I thought were struggling to get to the hole went six and eight feet by. You had to pay attention."
Yet he went on: "To be honest, that's links golf. That's what you expect ... there was a nice bit of breeze, a sunny day – perfect conditions for links golf."
Those suggestions from Bjorn, Poulter and Nick Faldo, who said the greens were "like glass ... it's like an ice rink out there," received short shrift from Harrington.
"If you didn't expect to get that going out there this week, shame on you," he said. "Ideal conditions. There are going to be some tough pins. That's it."
Clarke, leading Irishman after a battling one-over-par 72, admitted: "The golf course is playing very difficult but this is the Open. It was always going to be quick out there, but the wind got up this afternoon a bit and the greens got very shiny around the hole.
"It was almost brutal in places, but I really enjoyed it," added the 2011 champion. "I just hit a few loose shots coming in, so I'll go to the range to work on a few things."
Despite frustration with his 75, McDowell insisted: "It'd be wrong of me to stand here and criticise the set-up. Guys are making a score out there. Tiger's 69 was impressive and Frankie Molinari behind us also shot two-under.
"You have to be very patient, very conservative and keep the ball on the correct side of the pins. The only thing I did wrong was compound the error when I did get out of position," added the Portrush man, who putted nicely, though his card was blighted by double-bogeys at nine and 15.
TWEET OF THE DAY
"Unfortunately the guys this afternoon will struggle with a few pin positions. 8th hole is a joke, 18th needs a windmill & clown face."
Ian Poulter was far from happy with the condition of the course, which was playing hard and fast in temperatures of up to 24C.