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Players face tough rough at Celtic Manor
September 29, 2010

This might be the longest-hitting American team ever in the Ryder Cup. If they don’t hit it straight off the tee at Celtic Manor, it might not matter.

While the fairways are plenty wide, the rough is every bit as thick as it was in 2004 at Oakland Hills.

Dustin Johnson, as long as anyone at the Ryder Cup, only hit driver off the tee on the par 5s during his practice round Tuesday. As for the rough, he described it as so deep that anything more than a 6-iron away, he would not be able to get it on the green.

“You have to be pretty conservative off the tee,” Johnson said.

It doesn’t help that rain moved over the Twenty Ten course Tuesday afternoon, and heavy showers were expected Wednesday. The grass could get even thicker when the matches get under way on Friday.

“The rough is so thick out there, and they are worried about our captains driving carts in the rough so that they didn’t knock it down,” Jim Furyk said. “I joked in our meeting that maybe they are afraid of losing a couple carts in it because it’s about as thick and as long and difficult as we’ve ever seen in my career.

“So length is great, but if you can’t put it in play, it’s not so good.”

European captain Colin Montgomerie said he did not ask that the characteristics of Celtic Manor be changed to cater to his team. He wanted it set up so that the best team wins.

Even so, this is a European Tour course—Graeme McDowell won the Wales Open a few weeks before winning the U.S. Open—and it should favor the home team.

McDowell, however, recalled the rough being patchy without a summer of growth. He found Celtic Manor quite different now.

“It’s not patchy anymore,” McDowell said. “It’s just thick. You miss fairways, you’re going to be punished. The course has some length to it and the driving is a premium this week. You have to drive the ball in the fairway, preferably long. I know that works everywhere, but it certainly works this week, for sure.”

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