British Open 2012: Tiger Woods told stop whingeing about the rough and get on with it
FORMER British Open winner Tony Jacklin has a simple message for all those players losing their balls – and their heads – in the thick Lytham rough: stop whingeing.
No matter how unplayable it is, someone is going to win,” said Jacklin, who won the 1969 Open here. “It’s just getting your head around it and getting on with it. Whingeing won’t get it done.”
On Sunday, Tiger Woods claimed that sections of the rough were “almost unplayable” and although the former world No 1 was merely expressing his viewpoint, it was inevitably considered in some quarters to be a lament.
Jacklin was clearly one of these.
“You really don’t get the guys in with a shot complaining about the golf course,” said Jacklin, the last Englishman to win an Open Championship on home soil. “It’s controlling the golf ball that wins you majors. If you don’t drive well here you’ve got no chance.”
“Golf courses are to be played. The rough was high at Muirfield in 1966 when Nicklaus won – they had two stewards on the left and right of every hole. He drove with a one-iron all week. Tiger [Woods] won at Hoylake with a one-iron all week. You cannot get out of the fact that it’s controlling the golf ball that wins you major championships and that’s the examination.”
Rory McIlroy did not need advising of that truth. The world No 2 lost a ball on the 14th, despite the large galleries following him, and afterwards said: “There’s jungle out there.”
Darren Clarke, his Northern Ireland compatriot, warned that the sight of players marching back to the tee would be commonplace.
“There’s a few places even with spotters and everything where balls will be lost,” said the defending champion. “And even if you do find the balls in those spots I don’t know if you will be able to take a full swing and move it. There’s patches out there where it’s just absolutely brutal. There’s no chance of coming out of this rough at all.”
The challenge will not end there, explained Clarke. There are 206 bunkers at Lytham and some of them are poor. “There’s going to be occasions here this week when I think you’re going to see guys taking penalty drops out of the bunkers, because they won’t be able to move the ball anywhere,” he said. “They’ve revetted a lot of the faces, so some of them are more penal than others. It’s just a nightmare.”
With the forecast for wind and rain, at least a few fingers are bound to be pointed at the Royal & Ancient. Peter Dawson, the governing body’s chief executive, said the course is simply reflecting the recent weather.
“It’s nature,” he said. “We are not starting bailing rough on seaside courses. Some years we have a dry summer you get wispy rough in wetter warmish condition you get thick rough and a softer course. We don’t cut the rough other than the first and second cut.”
In 1988, Lytham staged the only Monday finish in Open history when Saturday’s third round was washed out. Dawson does not expect a repeat and also calmed fears that the conditions would cause chaos for the expected crowds of 200,000.
“We have rain, a wet week, but we will cope with it,” he said. “Our car park contingency is very strong. There is only one of our car parks that could be a problem and have hard standing contingency elsewhere – so we are not into a Silverstone situation.
“We lost a day’s play in ’88 but the drainage here is much better now. I am not saying we are not going to have a problem. We might. But we are all very confident that we will be playing golf. It may be a little difficult. The rough is up but the course is reasonably generous on width.”
The severity of the links overshadowed the news of The Open draw.
Weather can play havoc with one set of players and turn benign for another during the same day, giving an edge to one portion of the draw or the other.
“Being on the right side of the draw always plays a part in the Open,” said Clarke. “You get good sides, bad sides. The scoring can differ massively because of those weather conditions. But that’s part and parcel of the Open.”
Some of the marquee groups were not entirely unexpected. This is the fourth time Justin Rose has been drawn with Tiger Woods in the first two rounds of the Open since 2002. Experts have been saying for a few years that Woods has lost the fear factor, but Rose is unconcerned for less contentious reasons.
“I think Tiger has been out on tour a long time now so a lot of guys have had the chance to play with him regularly,” said Rose, who, in Sean Foley, shares a coach with Woods. “No doubt there was a time when it wasn’t necessarily a great draw. There are a lot of things that come with playing with Tiger. But in a sense it has settled down. Guys get used to it.”
Rose especially; and he feels the home support helps as well. “For me at the Open in a sense of how the crowd feel, is more of a level playing field than playing with him in the States.
“At first you are out of your comfort zone but now this is the fourth time I have done it. Tiger is a really good playing partner because he is complimentary about good shots and willing to have conversation. He really is a lot more easy going than a lot of other guys.”
The third member of the group may not necessarily agree. Woods and Sergio Garcia have not always seen eye to eye when they have gone head to head. The body chemistry could be interesting come Thursday morning. If they can be seen under the umbrellas.