GULLANE, Scotland – No hole epitomized a course on the edge quite like the par-4 15th at Muirfield.
Brandt Snedeker, arguably the best putter in the world, four-putted from 20 feet.
Ian Poulter hit a sand wedge 192 yards.
Charl Schwartzel’s drive bounded 380 yards – into a cross bunker.
Billy Horschel lined up a 15-foot putt … and had 15 feet coming back.
Justin Rose’s bunker shot hit short of the green, with spin, and still rolled all the way over the back, nearly into another trap.
The 448-yard hole yielded only 10 birdies in Round 2, with 12 double bogeys and three of the dreaded “others.” Only 34 percent of the field hit the putting surface with their approach, which is a startling figure, considering many had only a wedge left into the green.
“I don’t know what we’re supposed to do to hit the green,” Snedeker said. “That one got out of control, out of hand. That’s going to happen. There’s no way to control it during the course of the day.”
The hole location was 25 paces on and seven from the right, but the cup was protected by a knob. Late in the day, the grass around the hole became glassy after the constant foot traffic in the area.
Said Poulter, who shot 71, “As fast as that green was, and as slopey as that green is, then that is a very, very difficult pin position.”
Reigning Open champion Ernie Els was steaming when he came into the media area, after making bogey from the middle of the fairway on each of the last two holes.
Asked what he thought about the conditions, the Big Easy said: “I think there are two greens that are really getting – can I say it? It’s not very playable. But the rest is tough but fair. Really tough challenge. But I think two of the greens are getting out of hand.”
Those two: Nos. 14 and 15.
The grounds crew was already hand-watering the greens on the front nine before the second round was completed. On Friday morning, the R&A released a statement saying that the greens were hand-watered overnight and cut to 4 mm. Several players complained about the tricky hole locations and slick greens during the opening round – with Poulter writing on Twitter that all the 18th green needed was a windmill and clown’s mouth – and they proved just as treacherous on Day 2.
“I don’t know if that’s fair or not,” said Snedeker, who shot 68-79. “We all had to play the same golf course. They need to put some water on it. Everything is dead. You’ve got fairways that are running 15 (on the Stimpmeter) in some spots. You can’t stand up, because you can slip. It’s just really, really firm.”
Said Poulter: “I think we can all play this golf course when the pin locations are in places where you’re not going to get called out for hitting a good putt from 20 feet.”