Carnoustie's fearsome reputation is given short shrift by women

Carnoustie, famous golf town. The road sign is pleasingly matter-of-fact, and the inference is clear. This is a place you will have heard of, and need to respect.

This year's Ricoh Women's Open field is both large and diverse. There are 144 participants, and 25 nationalities represented. Yet it's inconceivable that no player here, whether they be one of the 28 who hail from South Korea or the lone traveller from Paraguay, had not previously heard of Carnoustie, or known of its reputation as something out of the ordinary.

"I heard a lot about the golf course before I came over here," said Michelle Wie, continuing a theme which had developed throughout the day yesterday. "Lorie Kane and I were on the 18th hole this morning and we were just talking about all that has happened here. It has a lot of history for sure. It's cool to come back and see what the guys did and hear the stories. Hopefully I can make some of mine."

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Carnoustie is preparing to host the Women's British Open for the first time in the 36-year history of the championship. Seven men's Open championships have been staged here, however, and few interested in the game of golf can be ignorant of the drama which Carnoustie seems to consider is its duty to provide.

It normally arrives at an 18th hole described as golf's toughest test. Yesterday, however, the Home hole, as it is known, discovered that it might have had its image dented slightly, as a result of having over 100 yards nicked off its length.

Taiwan's Yani Tseng, the world No 1 and current British Open title-holder, has already beaten a path to the place which has firmly returned to the game's consciousness, and watched from behind the ropes as Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a play-off four years ago. She recalls the cold but also the thrill of visiting such a site of golfing legend.

"I was writing on Facebook today that this is in the top three of the world's tough golf courses," she said. "I think it's one of my favourite courses.

"When I came here, I knew, after just a couple of holes, that I loved it. I don't know if I'm going to shoot a good score, but I just feel like I will have a lot of fun.

Tseng may be treating Carnoustie's challenges as an enjoyable test but some contend that the course is not challenging enough. It has been shortened by almost 1,000 yards since the Open in 2007, and although some reduction in length was a necessity, there are those who argue that much of the course's character risks being lost.

Once referred to as Scotland's answer to Brighton, Carnoustie found itself rebranded as "Carnasty" during a wild July in 1999. How Jean Van de Velde, who famously lost that Open, would like to hear that the Barry Burn has apparently been rendered impotent by a reduction in length at the 18th hole.

Tseng, currently second behind Brittany Lincicome in the LPGA's driving distance list, was likely to be miffed by this decision, since it blunts one of her major weapons. "It's a good advantage for me if they put it (the tee] back ten yards," she said. "But maybe they are trying to make it fair for everybody."

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Others were more robust in their opinion. "I was shocked by the 18th to be honest," said Melissa Reid, the second-highest ranked Briton in the field behind 2009 winner Catriona Matthew. "I thought the burn would definitely be in play on the drive.

"I've never been to Carnoustie before," she added. "I was kind of expecting it to be really quite difficult. Not that it's not difficult, but it's much more fair than I was expecting."

Yet, she accepted the course was in "superb condition," and is also probably alert to the fact that she could have a very different take on things, should the wind begin to blow.

Wie remains one of the main attractions. She missed the cut at the Evian Masters but is prepared to give the belly putter she tried last week another chance. Wie is one of a growing list of younger players turning to long putters, normally considered the preserve of older players aiming to reverse a decline. "We'll see how it works," she said yesterday.

Wie will seek once more to rebuild her reputation. Carnoustie's, meanwhile, might have to be reassessed.