Lee Westwood is prepared for late October weather at the seaside in this week’s Scottish Championship presented by AXA at Fairmont St Andrews – he just hopes the Tour are ready for all conditions.
Twice a winner in Fife in his long career – once in the Dunhill Links, the other as far back as his amateur days in the Leven Gold Medal – the multiple Ryder Cup player and tour winner loves links golf in Scotland but didn’t much enjoy Saturday at the Scottish Open, when he feels the Tour got it wrong.
“I’ve made my views clear to the European Tour on that; I thought the last nine holes on Saturday were unplayable,” he said.
“I couldn’t understand why, with the forecast anyone could see from the Monday, we didn’t do a U-draw on the Saturday – they did one on the Sunday.
“On Saturday you couldn’t see the pins, the ball flight, where the ball had gone around the back nine. I nearly lost a couple of balls not far off-line. The greens needed squeegeeing on the last few holes, there were bunkers that were full of water, so you’d have to take a penalty drop.
“When you get to that stage it’s unplayable. I know Poults (Ian Poulter) holds the same opinion. It all could have been avoided if they’d have done a U-draw. It’s a situation the last ten groups shouldn’t have been in.”
The forecast is better this week, quite benign for October on the Fife coast in fact, as the Tour plays the Torrance Course for the first time.
“It’s an exposed course, but I’ve looked at the forecast and there’s hardly any wind,” he said. “We won’t be getting the conditions that the later starters at the Scottish Open had to face on the Saturday.
“I don’t think this is a particularly difficult golf course – if the forecast is correct we might see some low scoring this week. But it’s so changeable on this coast.
“Without wind most links courses become scoring opportunities because they are built around ten to 20 mph and they have to stay playable in those conditions. If you don’t get the winds you expect, they become a bit of a birdie fest.”
Westwood has been loyal to the European Tour throughout the UK Swings, but he admits he’s missing the atmosphere of the town of St Andrews inside the Tour’s protective coronavirus bubble.
“It’s different because part of the charm of coming to play in St Andrews is going into the town and soaking up the atmosphere,” he said.
“There’s definitely something missing, but we’re living in strange times so you can’t have it all the way you want it.
“There’s no going into the town, or into the Jigger for a pint. You turn up, test, pass, go into the hotel, practice, go to the gym – there are other ways of occupying your time which are probably more beneficial to members of the Tour than going for a pint.
“It’s clinical, but there are worse places to be and people are suffering a lot more than staying in a five star hotel, being in a suite every night and playing golf during the day, so we shouldn’t complain too much.”
And the tour have had just two positive tests in nearly 12,000, the latest just this week when South African Jbe Kruger was forced to withdraw.
“People have been talking about comparing Europe with the US and their bubble is far less restrictive, but that’s why we’ve had so few positive cases,” said Westwood.
“We’re doing a good job of controlling it and it’s clearly what needed to happen – I wish everybody else could show as much discipline as the European Tour and its members have done.”