Monday, November 29, 1999

Officials defend Pebble Beach greens after players complain

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U.S. Golf Association officials defended the quality of the Pebble Beach greens after players criticised the hard and fast putting surfaces following Thursday's U.S. Open first round.World number one Tiger Woods, who failed to make a single birdie and took 34 putts in an opening 74 to stand five shots off the pace, complained that the greens were "bouncy" and "awful"."We couldn't be more pleased," Tom O'Toole, Jr, chairman of the championship committee, told reporters about the condition of the greens."It's a balancing act to try to keep these greens nourished from a water management standpoint, and then of course test the greatest players in the world with firmness."The greens here at Pebble Beach are poa annua (grass). And when you have 156 players playing... you're going to get bumpy greens."USGA director of rules and competitions Mike Davis explained the nature of poa annua grass."My understanding of what poa annua is, it's annual bluegrass and there may be hundreds of different strands of this or different types of mutations of this annual bluegrass and what happens is different strands grow at different rates."So by late in the day, no matter what you do, you do get some bumpiness with that."But we thought that the golf course played beautifully today. And we're very happy. If we can just try to duplicate that for another three days, it will be great."Davis, who said scores were a little higher than expected because of slightly stronger winds than were forecast, said he did not take the criticism from Woods personally."The way I see it is that he just finished a competitive round, the last part of his round didn't go as well as he wanted it to go," Davis said.Woods bogeyed the 16th and 18th holes."He's a great competitor," Davis added. "I really took it that he hit some putts and maybe they bounced and he obviously wasn't pleased about that."(Editing by John O'Brien; To query or comment on this story email
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