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July 18, 2012

Bishop: Golfers worry British Open’s high, dense rough will be inescapable

On Monday the headlines in the Daily Express, a local U.K. newspaper, said, “It’s too tough for Tiger — Open favourite Woods claims Lytham hazard is simply unplayable.” Sometimes the media can sensationalize with a headline, but not here.

Neil Spires who wrote the article said, “Tiger Woods took one look at Royal Lytham yesterday and declared the venue for the Open Championship unplayable. The pre-tournament favourite’s verdict after flying overnight for his practice round was that the rough, fed by the wet summer, is so thick as to render it virtually inescapable.”

“Oh my God,” said Woods. “It’s just that you can’t get out of it. The bottom six inches is so lush.

“The wispy stuff we’ve always faced at every British Open, but at the bottom it’s almost unplayable in some places. I’ve never seen the rough this high and dense,” added Woods.

Royal Lytham was already considered by many to be the toughest test in the Open rotation. Now some fear it could become a bloodbath as the rainiest summer on record in the U.K. offers no let up this week. More rain is forecast and it has all of the players talking.

“It’s an eye opener. The course plays very difficult and you really have to drive it well here to have any chance to score,” said Keegan Bradley, PGA Champion. “I am trying to avoid the rough at all costs. It’s very spotty. One foot to the left and you are hitting it to the green. Another foot and you are chipping it out to the fairway. It’s a flip of the coin whether you’re going to get a good lie or not.”

On Monday I played down the road at Royal Birkdale, site of nine Open Championships and a Ryder Cup. I found the playing conditions to be the toughest I ever experienced. Birkdale is a tight driving course by links standards and virtually any ball that bounded into the rough off the fairways or greens was lost. Tiger’s description of Lytham’s rough was accurate. The bottom six inches of the 18 inch rough is like a jungle.

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