Oakmont lashed by stars

By Brian Keogh

Former champions Michael Campbell and Geoff Ogilvy have slammed US Open bosses for making "fools" of the game’s top players.

With the average score a massive 75.72 at Oakmont, they believe the fans are being cheated of some major excitement.

The pair finished an embarrassing 43 over par for the week with defending champion Ogilvy on 19 over and Campbell 24 over.

And Kiwi Campbell, who was champion in 2005, is convinced that the fun factor is being taken out of the majors.

Campbell said: "It is on the edge of embarrassing some of the guys. It wasn't much fun out there, put it that way.

"I used to enjoy coming to major tournaments and playing them. But when you are out there grinding your butt off for bogeys and pars it is not very nice.

"We felt that at Augusta this year. Normally you get a guy charging on the back nine and shooting 30 like Jack Nicklaus did in 1986.

"To me that is exciting TV and for the players and the spectators too. But now there are just guys making bogeys and it is making us look like fools really."

Ogilvy criticised the US Golf Association for setting up the Oakmont course too tough, claiming the brutal rough and cavernous bunkers were too penal, even though Angel Cabrera's winning score was exactly the same as he shot last year at Winged Foot.

After finishing 14 shots behind the winner, the Aussie groaned: "I must have been in 25 fairway bunkers this week and I don't think I advanced it more than 30 yards out of any of them.

"It narrows the gap between the guy who's really good at something and really bad at something, because an 18-handicapper could hit the shots out of the bunker I'm hitting, because you've just got no shot.

"You should get penalised, but I don't like the black and whiteness of the one-shot penalty for hitting it in a bad spot."

Graeme McDowell believes the set up separated the "wheat from the chaff".

But he conceded that there was a lack of atmosphere as players battled for pars and bogeys.

He said: "I have to say a lot of us commented on how bad the atmosphere was here this week. Not lacking in crowds but lacking in birdies and the stuff to make them cheer

"Atmosphere drives us. We love atmosphere. We love the crowds geeing us on.

"There’s such an aura of I don’t know, watching disaster after disaster out there. That really doesn’t inspire as much and the crowd weren’t inspired.

"I wasn’t at Augusta this year but the guys were saying it was very similar. They are watching the course beat the c**p out of us, and that hurts us.

"If I had to do this 35 weeks of a year I think I’d have to find another job.

"They maybe could have cut the rough down a bit around the greens. That would be the place to start. Give us a little bit of a chance around the greens.

"To be honest they tried to do that. They gave us a little bit of first cut around the greens but not enough. There was too much thick rough around the bunkers. The ball didn’t run into the bunkers. It stuck in the banks."

But England’s Paul Casey said: "What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You are trying to keep our sense of humour out there as this is an incredibly tough golf course and we are very lucky with what we do.

"There are people out there today watching us in wheelchairs and you see that and have to smile. There is nothing you can do. I will be back next week and I am looking forward to the Open already."