As competitors continue to wrap up opening-round efforts, opinions have been one-sided. Golfers are citing pin placement and dry greens as the main culprits among factors that have many questioning the course's preparation for the prestigious tournament.
Ian Poulter didn't pull any punches in his rant.
Unfortunately the guys this afternoon will struggle with a few pin positions. 8th hole is a joke, 18th needs a windmill & clown face.
— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) https://twitter.com/IanJamesPoulter/statuses/357866735912747008">July 18, 2013
Poulter offered up a more tame criticism later Thursday.
We all love a really tuff challenge & that it is, the course is always playable with tough pins, but there were a couple of borderline ones.— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July'>https://twitter.com/IanJamesPoulter/statuses/357909352457310210">July 18, 2013
Phil Mickelson believes the repercussions on play have been severe.
"I think the R and A [Royal and Ancient] was really worried about scores going too low and so they used some really funky pin placements,” he told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi via the Washington Post. “Watch the guys on 8. It’s going to be funny. They used some funny spots and about a third of every green has died, it’s so brown. I hit two perfect shots on 18, left it in the exact spot I wanted to leave it and I ended up hitting—just trying to lag it—it still went way by."
Mickelson finished the first round with a two-under 69.
Zach Johnson, who headed into the clubhouse with a score of 66, also views pin placements as a legitimate concern at Muirfield.
“I was shocked with a couple pin placements,” Johnson told the Washington Post ”but in the Open you kind of expect difficult conditions and a difficult setup—nothing out of the ordinary in that regard. I guess, if anything, what I’m most surprised about is the fact that it’s just so dry right now. The fairways are rolling just as fast as the greens and the pins left, you have to miss right and the pins right, you have to miss it left. That’s really what it boils down to."
PGA veteran Stewart Cink added to those sentiments by taking to Twitter.
Muirfield greens really baking out in the sun. Keep an eye on #8, #9, and #16-18. Overall the greens are the fastest I've seen in the Open.
— Stewart Cink (@stewartcink) https://twitter.com/stewartcink/statuses/357866030678294529">July 18, 2013
Golf aficionado Dan Jenkins notes that elements at Muirfield should only become more challenging as the course grows increasingly dry.
How firm is it getting at Muirfield? Bubba Watson had 247 to 17 and went with a 6-iron.— Dan Jenkins (@danjenkinsgd) July'>https://twitter.com/danjenkinsgd/statuses/357855855389061121">July 18, 2013
AP golf writer Doug Ferguson reacted to an off-the-mark putt by Tiger Woods with another indictment of Muirfied's suddenly highly scrutinized greens.
Testament to greens (or browns) at Muirfield is Tiger's putt that went off 14th green. he's typically v. good at long putts in links golf— Doug Ferguson (@dougferguson405) July'>https://twitter.com/dougferguson405/statuses/357915489680359425">July 18, 2013
Stay tuned for further signs of frustration from players at the British Open. If the outburst by Charl Schwartzel is any indication, tempers may boil over often throughout the tournament.
As the tournament moves forward and players continue to step to the podium, expect to hear more complaints about the course on Scotland's East Coast.