The Open: Schwartzel brands course a ‘lottery’

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Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel said the British Open had become a “lottery” after he twice belted the ball 400 yards down Muirfield’s 
oven-baked fairways.

The South African was pleased to play his second round early, before the sun dried the course even more, and carded a three-under-par 68 to put himself in the title frame for the weekend on 143, one over.

During Schwartzel’s opening 75 he snapped an 8-iron in a fit of rage and, while he was more in control yesterday playing alongside Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia, he did not appear to enjoy the lightning-fast conditions that have attracted sniping by the players.

“I don’t like it when it starts becoming that much luck,” he said before heading back to his hotel to watch the guys “explode” in the afternoon groupings. “When it gets this crusty and you’re working on balls bouncing, 6-irons going 280 after bouncing at 210, how do you judge that?

“It becomes a bit of a lottery. You don’t know what’s going to happen and you need to be able to play in conditions like we played in this morning. That way you can still control your ball and quality shots get rewarded. But when it gets like this afternoon, you can hit good shots and get all sorts of results – it’s not that fair in my eyes.”

At the par-4 15th, a hole measuring 448 yards, Schwartzel and Westwood put their tee shots in bunkers guarding the front of the green. “I did it on the second green too,” said the world No 14. “At 15 I went into a bunker 380 yards away at speed. It’s like hitting down a runway. It’s only going to get harder for the weekend and there will be a couple of holes that are going to get very suspicious. At 15 they are rolling into the bunkers and at 16 they’re rolling off the greens. I’ll be kissing the golf course if I win though.”

Schwartzel’s first-round show of temper was still doing the rounds online yesterday and the 28-year-old admitted: “It was just an instant thing. I didn’t think what I was doing. I’m not really proud of it.”