Norman grumbles about Open course

Greg Norman fired a second-round two-under-par 70 at the South African Open on Friday and then criticised organisers for changes to the Pearl Valley course after the first round.

The former world number one is on one-over-par for the tournament, three strokes behind leader James Kingston of South Africa, and was unhappy with the changes for the second round.

“It’s been two totally different courses, the course was more difficult yesterday [Thursday],” Norman told reporters.

“They made a few adjustments to the tees and they did 100% irrigation last night, so the greens, which they also did not cut, were softer and there was not as much release on the fairways.

“I believe that if you’re going to be fair, you need to be consistent in setting up a golf course and I’d rather play two identical courses in the first two rounds because then you can get used to it.”

Norman, who has played just three other regular tour events around the world in the last two years, said the 6 801m course remained a daunting challenge in the windy conditions.

“It’s tough around the greens, it’s tough to get the right distance on your second shots. You have to be patient, bear down and concentrate hard, otherwise you will shoot some high scores,” he said.

Mike Stewart, the European Tour’s tournament director, said organisers had had to take account of the weather forecast.

“Yesterday was very windy and the course was incredibly difficult, as you could tell from the scores, and some holes were exceptionally demanding,” he said.

Fairest conditions

“We felt that we had to do something based on the weather forecast which had wind speeds being five miles (8km) per hour stronger all day with gusts of up to 30mph (48km/h).

“We planned on that basis and our objective was to get the players round the course in the best way and in the fairest conditions.

“So, for instance, when we brought the tee forward on the ninth hole it was to make it play like it did on the first day. In other words, despite the stronger wind, players would be able to use the same club off the tee.”

He added: “Greg is also slightly wrong in that we watered the greens both last night and the night before, the preparation was exactly the same, except we gave them just one cut this morning and we lost about nine inches of speed.

“It felt different to Greg because he played in the afternoon on the first round and they had dried out already by then, but they were no different this morning than they were yesterday morning.”

All the players had been advised about the changes, he said.

Second-round leader Kingston said: “The organisers deserve credit for what they did because if the wind had come up as expected then, I wouldn’t say some holes would have been unplayable, but it would have become very, very tough.” - Reuters

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