VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - Wentworth’s new greens have met with popular approval but Chris Wood was almost longing for the old putting surfaces to return after opening his BMW PGA Championship title defense with a 72 on Thursday.
The greens were dug up and re-seeded after last year’s tournament in order to make them less bumpy, a frequent complaint of the players in the past.
Four of the 18 putting surfaces were also reshaped while five more were partially rebuilt. In addition, a so-called ‘sub-air system’ was installed to help make them firmer and faster while new irrigation and drainage was introduced.
“I wish I could take them up and put the old ones back,” was Wood’s tongue-in-cheek reaction after his level-par effort in the first round of the European Tour’s flagship event.
“I didn’t have any confidence from inside four or five feet but I can’t blame the greens... suppose it’s just a case of me getting used to them,” he told reporters.
Wood mixed three birdies with three bogeys as he trailed early leader Johan Carlsson of Sweden by six strokes.
The Englishman wielded his putter like a magic wand 12 months ago but his touch with the shortest stick in the bag deserted him on Thursday.
“I couldn’t hit the hole from three feet,” said Wood. “I’m pretty disappointed...and not in the best frame of mind now.”
Ian Poulter, the Englishman known as ‘Mr Ryder Cup’ for his spectacular exploits in the biennial team event, led the locker-room praise for the Wentworth changes earlier this week.
“The greens were bumpy,” he said. “I don’t think they were as good as everyone would have liked them to have been.
“This tournament deserves a golf course in fantastic condition. I’m personally very pleased that it has been changed.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar