Greens trick the pros

IAN HUTCHINSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

It took three rounds and change for somebody to finally figure out Angus Glen North, a golf course analyzed and scrutinized for fear of not being up to snuff for the discerning tastes of those who played its fairways during the Canadian Open, which concluded in dramatic style yesterday.

Instead of dealing with the greens that stymied about everyone on the course, Jim Furyk drained a 5-iron from 209 yards on the fourth hole for an ace that quickly changed the leaderboard and allowed him to defend his 2006 championship with a 16-under score, respectable by PGA Tour standards.

Furyk would have been forgiven if he had used a line from Happy Gilmore, saying he should just get a hole-in-one every time instead of putting -- a logical decision, but an impossible one. Using a putter, however, also seemed impossible if you listened to players as the tournament came down to the short strokes.

It was on the 72nd hole of the tournament that Furyk gave Vijay Singh a chance by missing a five-footer. The trouble for Singh was that he missed a 23-footer to hand it back to Furyk, who had been pulling his putts left on Saturday and appeared to be lacking confidence as he backed off several putts down the stretch.

"I wanted to keep finding a spot on the green to aim over and keep trusting that it was the right spot because when I'd step up over it, I felt a touch closed, even though I was square. So, backing off of it was just to keep assuring myself that I was aimed properly," said Furyk, who tied for third in putting.

"The greens, I wouldn't say were firm, but they were the firmest today of the whole week," Furyk said of greens that seemed to confound players with mysterious dampness, various speeds and difficult pin placements.

Months before Halloween, some players felt the greens were a trick, not a treat.

"I would say it's set up fair. I mean, we don't try to be silly about it," said Jack McDonald, chairman of the Royal Canadian Golf Association rules committee. "One of my principles is that the last four feet or thereabouts is consistent break, not always flat, but at least consistent. Nothing strange in the last four feet."

"These greens, they are big," said McDonald, who worked with Mickey Bradley, a rules official with the PGA Tour. "However, there are spots where you really don't have as many hole choices as you'd like, but it doesn't mean that we're going to do something silly, even with fewer choices.

"We're not tricking them up, at all," said McDonald, who estimated before yesterday's round that the greens would be running just over 11 on the Stimp. "I did hear someone ask that question. I didn't hear any of the players answer affirmatively. It's sort of a trick question, if you will."

Of course, you would expect McDonald to defend his work, but many players agreed with him.

"The greens have been extra soft all week, so anytime you've had mid-iron, short-iron, they're stopping right where they land," said Brantford's David Hearn, who heads back to the Nationwide Tour after tying for 58th at even par yesterday.

"They were tricky yesterday and today. I don't think they've been unfair at any point in time. As soft as they are, I think a tricky pin here or there is okay."

Frank Lickliter II agrees.

"Pretty severe, some of them -- diabolical," he said. "I wouldn't say unfair. The thing is, if you stand back in the fairway and you hit what you think is a really good shot, smart play, you get up there and all of a sudden, you've got to work hard to two-putt.

"That happened to me several times yesterday and I would have picked another side to be on."

Mike Weir, who predicted the 16-under winning score a month ago, says Angus Glen passed the test, but adds that more renowned Canadian courses would serve the Canadian Open well in drawing marquee players.

"I think the course turned out to be better than expected. I think they did a real fine job getting the course ready," he said.

"It's under-estimated, the importance of a golf course. I think when guys know they are playing an old championship golf course, and this being a national championship, it really adds to the tournament if we can get playing some of these great, old courses that we do have."


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