Muirfield provides for more competition

GULLANE, Scotland, July 16 (UPI) -- If the world's best golfers hope to defeat Tiger Woods in a major event, the best place to do it is on a course that it not massively long.

That, at least is the opinion of Davis Love III, who expects a lot more players to be in contention this week at the British Open than there were last month at the U.S. Open.


"It is courses like Muirfield that better decide who is the best player," Love said Tuesday, referring to the site of this year's tournament. "It brings a bigger field into the equation much more so than the U.S. Open or the Masters and that's the way it ought to be.

"At the U.S. Open, only players like Tiger Woods, myself, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia -- guys who hit it long -- had any chance. There were players like Nick Faldo who played their hearts out but just couldn't get there.

"At the Masters, no one played better than (Jose Maria ) Olazabal, but there was just too much golf course for him and he couldn't handle it."


With many of the modern players, especially Woods, able to hit the ball huge distances, some of the world's most famous courses have resorted to adding length. Results from this year's majors indicate that has only reduced the number of players with a chance to win.

"Nick Price played really well at the U.S. Open," said defending British Open champion David Duval. "But he had no chance to win. The course was just too long for him."

Muirfield, meanwhile, looks just about like it always has. It's biggest defense is the wind and the long, wispy rough.

"Length is not a premium here, even when the wind blows," said two-time champion Greg Norman. "It's accuracy and shaping the ball that counts. Length can be an asset on a couple of holes, but not all 18. The golf course is excellent and very balanced."

"There is only one man to beat," said Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, who finished second to Woods at St. Andrews two years ago. "But this course does provide a better chance to guys who aren't that long. The course at first looks quite simple, but it's a sleeping giant and when it starts blowing, it will be even a bigger giant."


John Cook, who played a practice round with Woods Tuesday, agreed with the majority.

"Places like Bethpage (where this year's U.S. Open was played) eliminate 150 guys," he said. "That leaves just six with a chance to win. Scott Hoch and Nick Price played well but never figured in the championship. Here at Muirfield no one is eliminated from the championship because the length is such that you can do anything you want off the tees.

"The power hitters game is negated and I like that because it makes for much better competition."

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