Woosnam says Pebble Beach isn't up to par Greens, rough among complaints


PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Ian Woosnam probably would put Augusta National at the top of his list of favorite American golf courses, considering his 1991 Masters victory there.

As for Pebble Beach, site of this week's U.S. Open, this hallowed, historic piece of property probably will not make Woosnam's top 10. Or top 100, for that matter.

It was loathe at first sight for him.

"I'm not overly impressed," Woosnam said after his practice round Monday. "I've played a lot of courses better than this."

Among Woosnam's many complaints: the greens were too fast, the rough was too high and the 112-yard, par-3 seventh hole was too, uh, short for the long-hitting, 5-foot-4 Welsh golfer.

Of the greens: "There's a lot of funny grass on the greens."

Of the rough: "With the rough the way it is, it could turn into a chipping contest."

Of No. 7: "I thought it was a practice hole."

While most of his fellow pros politely dismissed Woosnam's comments -- "He probably lost five bucks on the last hole," Jack Nicklaus said jokingly -- Nick Faldo saw it as an opportunity to tweak his longtime rival.

First, Faldo said of Pebble Beach: "This is the best U.S. Open I've played. It has far more character to it."

So why does Woosnam have such a disparate point of view?

"He's lower to the ground than me," said Faldo, who is among the favorites here this week. "I'll pass on that to avoid any confrontations with my buddy."

* Few in the 156-man field have had more success here than Mark O'Meara. Four of his eight PGA Tour wins have come at Pebble Beach, including this year's AT&T; Challenge.

But of the more established players in the field, few have had less success in the Open than O'Meara. He has missed the cut at seven of the 11 Opens for which he qualified, including the past three years and four of the past five.

So can Pebble Beach's Mr. January (and, Mr. February, as was the case this year) become its Mr. June? "When you go to different golf courses and you've had success on some of them, you dwell on the positive," he said.

Admittedly, there's more attention on O'Meara this week because of his history at Pebble Beach, not his Open record. Why else would he be the focus of a piece on the course in a recent Sports Illustrated? Why else was he brought into the press tent yesterday along with a parade of former Open champions?

"There's definitely a little more pressure," said O'Meara, fifth on this year's money list despite missing the cut at his last two tournaments and taking off the past two weeks. "But the pressure is what you make of it."

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