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Carnastie
Gary Van Sickle
July 26, 1999
When an already tough course turned into a killer, everybody screamed bloody murder
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July 26, 1999

Carnastie

When an already tough course turned into a killer, everybody screamed bloody murder

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As for the wind...there is always wind at Carnoustie. By Scottish standards what the players saw for the first three days was nothing more than a wee breeze, and the final round was played on an unusually calm day, when the wind never blew at more than 5 mph.

The culprit, according to many of the players and even some tournament officials, was Carnoustie superintendent John Philip. The players thought Philip had it in for them after he was quoted last week as saying, "Players are pampered nowadays. They have their gurus all helping them, and they get their courtesy cars taking them everywhere. There is an ego problem here. They want a good payday with as little hassle as possible. Well, sorry, Jimmy. This is the Open, the big exam."

Carnoustie's famed finishing holes lived up to their reputation and added psychological insult to injury. The field played them in nearly two over par. Andrew Coltart would have started the final round two shots ahead of Jean Van de Velde instead of seven back if he had played the four finishing holes in par. "They arc fantastically difficult holes," said Coltart, who wound up 18th. "They were notorious before the Open, and they will be after."

The 15th, a long, narrow par-4 of 472 yards, and the 16th, a 250-yard monster par-3, proved that downwind holes can be as difficult as upwind holes. To hold the green on either, an approach had to land short, but bumpy landing areas kicked shots this way and that. Getting on the green was no guarantee of success either. Lee Janzen made a quadruple-bogey 8 at 15 on Saturday when he five-putted. He came in 70th.

Watson, returning to Carnoustie 24 years after his Open victory there, said one of his goals was to make a score better than bogey at the 16th, something he had never done. Watson missed the cut by a shot but birdied 16 on Friday when he hit a five-iron to within 12 feet. "We all feel 16 is too long," said Montgomerie, who missed the green the first three days. "No one likes the 16th."

The 17th was the second-toughest hole on the course, after the 12th, and produced 48 double bogeys or worse. Greg Norman played his way into contention on Friday and was four under for his round when he got to the 17th. His tee shot was three paces off the fairway but in such snarly rough that on his second shot he failed to move the ball, which was a common occurrence throughout the week. Norman barely got the third shot back to the fairway and then missed the green with his fourth and made a 7. On Saturday he drowned his tee shot in the burn and made bogey. Barely one third of the field hit the 16th green in regulation; only 29% hit the 17th.

The 18th, a downwind par-4 of 487 yards, was relatively tame by comparison—until it rose up to claim Van de Velde and Justin Leonard on Sunday. The main problem was stopping a ball on the green, which is fronted by Barry Burn, so the wiry rough behind the green got a workout all week.

Playing Carnoustie was about as enjoyable as getting a root canal, as Billy Andrade can attest. Andrade had planned to wait until he got back to the U.S. to have a bothersome tooth fixed but was overwhelmed by pain on Thursday night. He was given a shot of novocaine right before he teed off on Friday, but that wore off after four holes. When he finished the round-he shot 84 and missed the cut—he rushed to a dentist for oral surgery. The pain was so bad on the course, Andrade said, "that for about three holes I wanted to scream."

At Carnoustie last week, he was not the only one.

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