Ian Poulter upset by Wentworth course changes

By Rob Hodgetts BBC Sport at Wentworth

Ian Poulter launched a scathing attack on the redesigned West Course at Wentworthexternal-link after finishing with a double bogey to slide to level par at the halfway stage of the PGA Championship.

Poulter, who has been openly critical of the course in the past, added to the complaints of the new layout despite alterations made since last year.

"I don't like this golf course. Period. End of story," he said. "It's a very difficult golf course, especially now it's been redesigned.

"It's not fun. I was here as a kid watching those great shots but you can't remember them now. We'll have to fill up the archive with some new ones."

Poulter also criticised the 9th and 12th holes and said the changes on 17 made it impossible to go for the green in two. In the first round there was only one eagle made on each of the last two holes - by Jose Manuel Lara on the 17th and by Gregory Havret on the 18th.

"Some of the fun of the last few holes has been taken away," he said. "We can't get a sniff of 17. You can't finish eagle-eagle anymore."

He added: "They've got what they wanted. I'll speak freely. Many others will not."

The West Course was laid out by the architect Harry Colt in 1926 but underwent significant changes, at the behest of owner Richard Caring and overseen by Ernie Els, for last year's tournament.

All 18 greens were relaid and many resculpted with the major change coming at the 18th. The traditional par-five finish, which offered an eagle chance, has been altered, with a stream running in front of a raised green, which dissuades most players from attacking the putting surface in two.

Caring, who spent £6.5m revamping the course, admitted after last year's event that he had not quite got it right first time.

"The 18th was a dream I had," he said. "I wanted to give the spectators a bit of excitement, a bit of theatre. We might have gone slightly too far because it's proven to be quite difficult."

Els was against the changes to the 18th, and the green has been lowered for this year with the depth of the putting surface extended to invite second shots.

But the South African said: "Wentworth is now a fair and honest test of golf.

"I can understand people saying things in the heat of the moment. A guy comes off the 18th when he's just made double and he's going to be hot.

"What they say two minutes after finishing might not be indicative of what they think two hours later. Players who do not have a good time on the 18th will have a go.

"But you have to look at the overall picture. I believe you will not find better surfaces to putt on anywhere in the world at the moment, but unfortunately you only hear the negative comments and very little positive.

"It's two weeks before the US Open, it's the Tour's flagship event and should be played on a major championship style lay-out.

"This course is by no means unfair. It was last year, but it is not this. It is a true test of the game."

Poulter, who missed the event in 2008 and 2009 because of his record, added: "I don't know what I'm going to do in a year's time."

Poulter had started the day at three-under par but had a mixed front nine, with four birdies and five bogeys.

He finished disappointingly when his approach shot to the par-five last hit the remodelled green and bounced into the water. He chipped on to the green before taking two putts to finish with a seven taking him to level par.

He said: "On the 18th I hit a near-perfect third shot which pitched on the green and spun into the hazard. For me they have turned it into a difficult golf course and not a fun golf course."

Luke Donald, who leads with Alavaro Quiros going into the weekend, disagreed with Poulter, saying: "I certainly had fun yesterday [when he shot an opening round of 64].

"They have made it very challenging, but as long as you come in with that mindset, knowing it's going to be tough, you shouldn't have any grumbles.

"Obviously, around the greens it's very different but it shouldn't take more than a few rounds to learn it."

"If you had to play this course every week it would grind on you. It's tough but you can prepare yourself, just like a US Open.

"It's a different course than Congressional [venue for next month's US Open], but you get into that mindset where par is a good score."

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