GULLANE, Scotland (Reuters) - Muirfield’s par-four 15th hole seemed to grate on the nerves of the players at the British Open on Friday with Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Ian Poulter and Angel Cabrera summing up the general mood of discontent.
The 448-yard hole is typical of the rest of the course in that the parched fairway is so quick it resembles an ice rink.
Then, when the players get to the green, they are confronted by a tricky pin position parked on an awkward ridge towards the back of the putting surface.
Little wonder it was rated the hardest hole on the course in the second round, with an average score of 4.582.
Cabrera, two strokes behind leader Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain after a 72 gave him a one-under total of 141, waved his arms in animated style after carding a bogey at the 15th before looking forlornly at his caddie as if to say, ‘What’s going on here?’.
Briton Poulter gave a graphic description of the problems the green caused.
“Billy Horschel hit a putt from 15 feet which just missed the edge of the hole and went 15 feet past,” he said of his young American playing partner.
“We can all play this 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. What we don’t want is a pin that’s just sat on the top of a little knoll.
“It’s really, really hard to putt it to a ‘gimme’ range. That’s all you’re doing from that distance.
“Today I think there was only one that was very dicey late in the day. That was probably 15. I managed to two-putt it so I’m over the moon,” said Poulter after he shot a level-par 71 for 143.
According to Mickelson, the 15th green was so slippery it was quicker than any of the marble-like putting surfaces at the U.S. Masters.
“Augusta is 14 1/2 on the stimpmeter and some here were 15 in spots and the 15th was one,” said the American after shooting a 74 for 143.
“I gave a little fist pump there because I knew I was going to have to make a 15-footer for par (if I missed).”
Defending champion Ernie Els initially described the greens at the 14th and 15th as “getting out of hand” and “not very playable” before back-tracking.
“I never said that. Where did I say it was unplayable?,” said the South African after a 74 gave him a 148 tally.
“I said it’s borderline. Please, I never used the word ‘unplayable’.”
Nicolas Colsaerts, who made his Ryder Cup debut in Europe’s thrilling victory in Illinois last September, came seriously unstuck on the 15th green.
The Belgian, who missed the cut by one stroke, signed for a nine at the hole after suffering the embarrassment of taking five putts.
Editing by Ed Osmond