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Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 13:00 UK

Rebuilt green concerns Westwood

Lee Westwood
Westwood is among the favourites for the Open title

Lee Westwood has added his voice to the criticisms surrounding Royal Birkdale's controversial 17th green by claiming the hole has been "messed up".

"It's completely out of character with the rest of the greens," said the Englishman ahead of this week's Open.

The putting surface has been rebuilt since the Open Championship was last held at the Lancashire links in 1998.

And the multi-tiered, sloping green has also been criticised by Australia's world number three Geoff Ogilvy.

Westwood, who is one of the favourites for the Open title, added: "I think everybody has accepted that something has gone wrong with it. It's not to the standard of the rest of the greens. The rest of them are brilliant."


America's Phil Mickelson has claimed the 17th was "much more dramatic than the other greens", while Ogilvy believed the way players negotiated the five-par hole would be a key factor in deciding Sunday's winner.

"I haven't been here before and so never saw the old green, but this one stands out more than a bit," said Ogilvy.

"If Birkdale were a one-hole course this green would be out of character with the rest of the course. It's out of character with the land, it's out of character with the hole. You can see from 250 yards away that something has gone wrong.

"Sadly, it could be a decisive factor in who wins the championship. You could get some really crazy putts going on there. Funky bounces, too."


Royal Birkdale's 17th green may be changed after this weekend's Open

Club members are reportedly planning to modify the green after the Open, but course architect Martin Hawtree said he was surprised by the furore surrounding his design of the 17th.

"In previous Birkdale Opens the 17th had been the easiest or one of the easiest holes," Hawtree was quoted in the Guardian. "So it needed stiffening. We moved the green back to the point where the front of the new green is where the back of the old one was. Then we added another tier.

"I'm taken aback by the depth of the reaction. It was a weak hole and demanded something be done. I have heard that the club want to redo the green complex after the Open. I'd be more than happy to move the mounds at the back."

Adding to the difficulty for the players will be the strong winds which have been forecast for the weekend.

see also
Filling Tiger's shoes
15 Jul 08 |  Golf
Rose's Birkdale return
15 Jul 08 |  Golf
Best of British at the Open
16 Jul 08 |  Golf
Battle royal at Birkdale
11 Jul 08 |  Golf

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