Date: August 29, 2008

Tough going at Gleneagles

New Zealand&aposs Gareth Paddison and Michael Campbell were the leading Australasians after the opening round of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles but the day was more notable for an outburst from Lee Westwood. In a withering attack Westwood called for the greens on the 2014 Ryder Cup course at Gleneagles to be ripped up. The former European No.1 had just opened the tournament, the final qualifying event for next month&aposs Ryder Cup match against the Americans, with a one-under 72. With Frenchman Gregory Havret setting the pace with a 68 – he leads by two – Westwood&aposs effort has far from ruined his hopes of victory on Sunday. But, already safely into Nick Faldo&aposs side himself, he feels sympathy for those still battling for inclusion and having to do so on what he clearly considers greens from Hell. Paddison was also at one-under, while former US Open champion Campbell shot even-par. Matthew Millar was the leading Australian at one-over, six shots off the pace, while Peter Fowler and Marcus Fraser both carded two-over 75s. Westwood, though, was far from pleased with the Scotland course. “I said last year that the greens were awful and something needed to be done,” he stated after a round which included a four-putt double bogey at the 461-yard fifth. The second of those was from less than two feet and he added: “I&aposm not a bad putter and I can&apost remember the last time I three-putted from 18 inches.” “At the end of the week unfortunately the tournament could be won or lost by luck on the greens.” And so, of course, could somebody&aposs Ryder Cup fate. “They are the people I feel really sorry for. There is a lot riding on that,” Westwood said. “They are going to be feeling pressure as it is and you don&apost want to be standing over a three-footer with so much doubt in your mind not knowing if the ball is going to run straight.” Heavy recent rain has softened the surfaces, but he added: “You can&apost bring the Ryder Cup onto greens like this. Hopefully they will rip them up and re-do them.” “Hopefully they won&apost use the same designer who had two goes at doing the seventh. I think my kids could come up with a better design than that in one afternoon.” Playing with Westwood was Mansfield&aposs Oliver Wilson, in the 10th and last automatic qualifying spot entering the week and under threat from Martin Kaymer, Ross Fisher and Nick Dougherty. Wilson, also double-bogeying the fifth, managed only a three-over 76, but so did Kaymer after losing a ball at the 320-yard 14th and taking six there. Fisher did better with a 72, but he has to finish third to have a chance, while Dougherty, who needs first or second place, battled away for a 73. “Must do better,” Wilson commented. “The greens are not overly smooth, but I felt I was a little bit unlucky – every time I hit it in the rough I got a bad lie.” “I don&apost think I&aposve blown myself out of it. I could have done, but I didn&apost.” Dougherty, who like Kaymer has had the trauma of losing his mother in the past few months, admits he is mentally exhausted. “Even if someone has to cart me into the car on Sunday and I&aposve done all I can I can be pleased and proud of myself.” Justin Rose and Soren Hansen are not yet safe at eighth and ninth on the points table, but by scoring level-par and two-under respectively they have no cause to lose any sleep yet. For Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie and Paul McGinley, meanwhile, the task is to try to impress Faldo enough to hand them one of his two wild cards. Some suspect that the reason Paul Casey and Ian Poulter have stayed in the States is that they are the favoured pair, but that is out of the control of the three home-based stars. Clarke, winner in Holland on Sunday, was satisfied with a 72 and Montgomerie said a 74 &aposby no means&apos put him out of things, but McGinley could do no better than 76. Montgomerie always acts as tournament chairman this week – he is the expected European captain in six years&apos time – and when asked about the greens stated: “We will have to look at it.” “We&aposve had an awful lot of rain. They had to close the (practice) range a couple of times last week.” As for Havret, he is looking for a Tartan double after beating Phil Mickelson in a play-off for last year&aposs Scottish Open at Loch Lomond. Six birdies, three of them in a row from the fourth, was a fine way to return after five weeks off enjoying the sunshine with his family at home. Compatriot Christian Cevaer, in-form Scot Gary Orr and England&aposs Paul Broadhurst were sharing second place in the clubhouse. Johnny Walker Championship, Gleneagles Results Round 1 (Par 73) -5: Gregory Harvet 68 -3: Paul Broadhurst 70, Christian Cevaer 70, Gary Orr 70, Robert Rock 70 -2: Gegory Bourdy 71, Bradely Dredge 71, Soren Hansen 71, Jose-Filipe Lima 71, Benoit Teilleria 71, Anthony Wall 71, Martin Wiegele 71 -1: Juan Abbate 72, Emanuele Canonica 72, Darren Clarke 72, Ross Fisher 72, Lee S James 72, Jonathon Lomas 72, Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 72, Patrik Sjoland 72, Lee Westwood 72 Also: Par: Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 73 +1: Matthew Millar (Australia) 74 +2: Peter Fowler (Australia) 75, Marcus Fraser (Australia) 75 +3: Steve Alker (New Zealand) 76 +5: Peter O Malley (Australia) 78, Mark Brown (New Zealand) 78