Darren Clarke lets rip about 'brutal' Open course
With the 2012 Open looming, the defending Open champion has had to give back the Claret Jug he won in such style at Sandwich a year ago.
He’d like to win it back this Sunday — and that would be some achievement, considering the Ulsterman’s withering opinion of this year’s venue.
Clarke described the rough at Royal Lytham & St Anne's as “brutal,” adding that the long, lush grass was a problem in certain areas — and predicted some players would lose balls this week.
The 43-year-old’s comments followed similar remarks made by Tiger Woods, a three-times winner of the tournament, who described the rough as “inescapable” after his practice round on Sunday.
The championship organiser, the R&A, insists, however, that the course is in the best possible condition it can be.
“There are a few patches out there where it's just absolutely brutal,” said Clarke. “The grass is a little bit thicker than what you normally find on a links golf course. It's really, really tough. If you start spraying the ball around this week, you might as well go home.
“Obviously you start missing the fairways there you're really going to struggle, so it's a big challenge. There's a really huge premium on accuracy this week. There's no chance coming out of this rough at all. There could be some lost balls in there, even with spotters and everything.”
The R&A blamed unprecedented weather conditions for hampering preparations over the past few months and claims it has canvassed opinion from several professionals who are satisfied with the course.
“The feedback we have had from a large enough body of players to be satisfied that they represent the field is that it is fair and well set up,” the R&A communications director, Malcolm Booth, said.