CHASKA, Minn. – Justin Rose took a detour in the middle of the European team's news conference to take a swipe at the Hazeltine setup for the Sunday singles matches.
It’s uncharacteristic for Rose to speak out in such a high-profile situation. The Olympic gold medalist is as thoughtful and diplomatic as they come in this game, but it was clearly an issue that was tearing him up inside.
“I think if we were all to be honest about it, I thought the setup was incredibly weak,” he said. “I thought it was very much a pro-am feel in terms of the pin placements. They were all middle of the green.”
As Rose was giving his explanation, many other players on the panel, including Rory McIlroy, were nodding in agreement.
“We want to showcase our skills. We want to be tested,” Rose continued. “For example, the water holes out there, all the pins were as far away from the water as possible. I mean, the pin on 17 is an absolute joke. It’s a 9-iron into the middle of the green and you stiff it. So with the match on the line, you kind of feel like … you want a player to step up a little bit more than they have to.”
Rose had harsh words for the 18th hole, too, saying that it’s only driver, wedge on a pivotal hole and if you hit it into the middle of the green, the ball would filter to within 12 feet of the pin.
“I just felt coming down the stretch it was a little soft,” he said.
Rickie Fowler, who beat Rose 1 up in Sunday singles got the chance to respond during the U.S. team's news conference. Suffice to say, he had a slightly different opinion.
"Obviously when it comes down to singles, it's fair. Everyone's playing the same ones," he said. "So I thought it was a good setup today and it worked out just fine for us."