Thursday, July 15, 1999 Published at 20:57 GMT 21:57 UK
Taming the 'beast'
Carnoustie : The 'beast' that lies in wait for the top pros
The world's leading golfers share a common emotion ahead of the Open Championship's return to one of the world's toughest courses.
The 7,361-yard, par-71 "beast of Carnoustie" has narrow fairways, high rough and big bunkers.
The weather forecasters predict it will gust to 20-25mph over the next two days, and get stronger by Sunday's final round.
"This championship will be won with an over-par score," predicted the two-time US Open champion.
"I know what the Royal and Ancient are up to.
"They don't want an under-par win to win and they will get their way."
A number of leading players, particularly Americans, have declined to tackle the course's unique charms.
Fred Couples, Ben Crenshaw, John Daly, Steve Jones and Scott Hoch are all absentees.
Most have cited injuries or loss of form, and another US pro, Bill Glasson, pulled out on Wednesday with elbow trouble.
But the words of those who have made it to Tayside suggest that few are looking forward to the challenge.
"I have never seen fairways as penalising as this for a major championship," said Phil Mickelson.
"I think quite a few over par might be a very realistic winning score."
Stewart keeps smiling
Perhaps on the basis that if you cannot laugh you will cry, Payne Stewart was in a jokey mood.
"Those aren't fairways," exclaimed the US Open champion. "In America we call them walking paths."
But the organising Royal and Ancient club's secretary, Sir Michael Bonallack, is unrepetant.
"I think of this as a degree," he said. "It's not a common entrance exam."
"I love the bad weather. I've always loved it," said the 23-year-old world no 1.
"I will be able to hit a two-iron or 3-wood off the tee just as far as some of the guys can hit their drivers. I believe that is a tremendous advantage."
Scot Colin Montgomerie is hoping to lift Europe's spirits by finally scoring his first major win, to follow victory at Loch Lomond last week.
But defending champion Mark O'Meara tips the six-times European number one as one of his "four to follow" at Carnoustie.
"I know his record is pretty awful but I think he might sneak it," said O'Meara.
"He definitely has the talent, there is no question about that, and the fact that the fairways are the narrowest I have ever seen at an Open has got to favour him."
O'Meara's other contenders are Woods, David Duval and new teenage sensation Sergio Garcia.
Carnoustie has not hosted this tournament in 24 years but Sir Michael says it is unlikely to have to wait so long again.
"I'd be very surprised if we weren't back here very soon," he said.
"After Tom Watson won in 1975 we couldn't use it for years because the course wasn't in very good condition and there were no hotel facilities.
"But now these problems have been sorted out and everyone connected with the course has done a wonderful job getting it ready."