Westwood tells Gleneagles to rip it up and start again

LEE Westwood, world No12 and highest ranked player in the field at the Johnnie Walker, launched a scathing attack on the state of the bumpy greens at the PGA Centenary Course yesterday before insisting the European Tour can't bring the Ryder Cup to Gleneagles in 2014 unless the putting surfaces are dug up and replaced.

One of Europe's best putters, Westwood was shocked on the fifth hole when he used his putter four times in all, including three putts from inside two feet. There were other tales of woe, including India's Shiv Kaupur, who five-putted the 15th. Michael Campbell, the former US Open champion, reckoned the greens were the poorest he'd ever putted on.

"You can't bring the Ryder Cup on to greens like this," rued Westwood after taking 31 putts in an opening round of 72, one under par. "They have a bit of rain and the best professionals in Europe can't hit the hole from two feet."

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Asked what could be done to improve the sodden greens in Perthshire, Westwood replied: "They could rip them up and redo them. That's my fear for the Ryder Cup coming here. That they're just going to keep patching them up over the years. Hopefully they redo them.

"You build a course between two valleys in Scotland and you have to expect rain. So rain is not an excuse for having bad greens this week, I'm afraid. I've put down a green at home which is like concrete and we've had almost as much rain as they've had here.

"They need to dig them up and put the right construction underneath them."

Colin Montgomerie, the chairman of the championship committee, who missed himself from two feet on the 15th, didn't rule out future changes. "There's been an awful lot of rain and the greens are soft. I was practising here last week and they had to close the range a couple of times because of the rain. The weather has been awful and the greens have suffered. I think some greens drain better than these, there's no doubt about that. So we'll have to look into that in the future."

Westwood also took a swipe at golf course architect David McLay Kidd, the Scottish designer of Bandon Dunes in Oregon and the Castle Course near St Andrews, who is in charge of the redesign on the PGA Centenary, including the controversial seventh hole. "I hope they don't use the designer who has had two gos at doing the seventh green," the Englishman cautioned. "Because if you need two gos to get it to that stage, well, I think my kids could come up with a better design than that in one afternoon."

Currently second behind Padraig Harrington in the European Order of Merit, Westwood at first rebuffed questions about the greens at Gleneagles. "My grandfather said to me years ago that if you haven't got anything good to say, then say nothing," he replied.

But Westwood changed his mind after recalling how the greenkeeping machinery used to cut the grass here had left imprints around the holes. "What chance have you got once half the field has been over them?" he pondered. "I can't remember the last time I three-putted from 18 inches.

"On the next green, I then saw someone else miss from 18 inches, so that sort of reaffirmed it wasn't just (my] problem. By the end of the week, unfortunately, the tournament could be won or lost by luck on the greens."

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Given the number of players striving to clinch automatic spots here in the Ryder Cup team or catch the attention of captain Nick Faldo for a wild card, Westwood said he felt sorry for those chasing dreams. "They are going to be feeling pressure as it is and you don't want to be standing over a three footer with so much doubt in your mind not knowing if the ball is going to run straight."

Westwood made similar observations a year ago, when Darren Clarke also criticised the lay-out. "There has only been one Ryder Cup in Scotland, in 1973 (Muirfield], and then they choose a course like this one," complained Clarke. "There are even two better ones here at Gleneagles (The Kings and Queens]. Scotland is the home of golf and we should not be playing on an American-style course; it's beyond my comprehension. Gleneagles is a wonderful venue, but this is the wrong course.The Ryder Cup is steeped in history and I just can't see it here."

Yesterday, however, Clarke declined to elaborate and quipped that he'd almost convinced himself he likes the course.

Given there are three notable courses on the Gleneagles estate, Westwood agreed the Tour might have shifted the event to the Kings after assessing the state of the greens on the PGA Centenary.

"It would be nice to play the course where they used to hold the Scottish Open years ago," he went on. "I never got to play on it, but I enjoyed watching it. It might be a bit short now, but what the hell ? If people shoot low scores, they shoot low scores. It wouldn't hurt for one year, would it ? But you can't bring the Ryder Cup on to greens like this."

In a joint statement, Gleneagles and the European Tour pointed out that rainfall for August was already 205 millimetres compared to the average of 86mm. "It has been a difficult summer and the last three weeks have been extremely challenging," they said. "A strong agronomy plan has been formulated for the PGA Centenary and is still work in progress."