By Brian Keogh
Peter Lawrie joined a chorus of players claiming that rough justice is killing the fun factor at Adare Manor.
The Dubliner was fuming at the lack of ball spotters on the 14th, where a lost ball led to a triple bogey seven and a round of 76
US Open style rough was to blame as Lawrie’s ball hit a tree down the left side of the fairway and was never seen again.
And Lawrie, 33, can’t understand why the course was set up so tough for an Irish Open that needs birdies and eagles to give the fans something to cheer about.
Lawrie fumed: “I am absolutely shocked that you can have rough like this and no spotters. It is just baffling.
“To be honest with you I am not a happy camper. Okay, I hit a bad shot and if you look at every other professional golf tournament, people hit a bad shot.
“But it is a rare case where professionals these days lose golf balls with crowds or spotters all around”
Lawrie reckons that the event is superbly run, but he still wants to know why Adare Manor looks like a US Open venue.
He asked: “What was the idea of setting up a course like this? What scores did they want to win the tournament? Level par?
“It is a wonderful venue and it's a wonderful golf course. And the tournament is run well. But the Irish Open has suffered in the past from tough golf courses and the fans not enjoying what they are seeing.
“They are not seeing birdies, they are not seeing eagles. Why come to such a good venue and penalise guys guys to such a state. I just don't understand why.”
Even defending champion Thomas Bjorn, who limped round in 75 with an eagle on his card, reckons the rough is the worst he’s ever seen.
But while he’s even more worried about what might happen today with 50 kph winds threatening to wreck even more cards, he reckons it’s just a question of putting your head down and working hard.
Bjorn said: “I haven’t played rough like it. I think we are back to Bethpage in the 2002 US Open, when we experienced rough as severe as this.
“The difference between the US Open and this is that it’s 30 degrees warmer and the ball goes a but further so it’s a bit easier to play golf in these conditions.
“I don’t think it’s a negative thing. When you get a golf course like this, just get out there, get your head down and keep grinding it out and let the best man win. It is last man standing and that’s what you want sometimes.”
Four inch rough and 25-yard fairways sent scores soaring for the early starters, who played in chill temperatures.
Lawrie added: “Miss the fairway and you have to open the face sand wedge, hack down and try and chop it down on the fairway. What set it up so difficult? I can't say it is sour grapes.
“I shot four over, I lost a golf ball. Other than that I actually played okay. I was one over for the other 17 holes.”
Ryder Cup star Lee Westwood plotted his way around in 71 but chimed in: “I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favourite Irish courses.
“The fact that they lengthened it was a mistake to be honest. The new tees on the ninth and 11th were completely unnecessary. The golf course is in ireland, not Florida.”