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Wentworth owner unhappy at Ian Poulter comments
May 31, 2011

Wentworth owner Richard Caring has launched a passionate defence of the West Course revamp inspired by Ernie Els and said world number 12 Ian Poulter went too far with his criticism of the PGA Championship venue.

Caring, who has spent almost seven million pounds ($11.53 million) on the new design, said he and Els were vindicated for making the changes when the top two players in the world (winner Luke Donald and runner-up Lee Westwood) dominated the European Tour’s flagship event.

“Ian is a great thing for the sport, he’s fabulous, larger than life, a great talent, he’s relevant and there should be more Ian Poulters,” the 62-year-old told Reuters in an interview in the grand old Wentworth clubhouse overlooking the first hole.

“But when you look back at his comment on Friday, ‘They shouldn’t have made the changes because it was more fun before’ …maybe he got a little excited and I question whether or not looking back on it he might have been a little extreme.

“Ian has played in 10 PGA Championships, missed the cut seven times and his best result prior to the changes was 33rd …now if he calls that having fun, that’s different, but at least he made the cut this time,” added Caring of Poulter’s 18th-place finish.

The British billionaire said most of the players appreciated the West Course adjustments and added he disagreed with Poulter’s view that the great Wentworth strokes of the past had been lost.

“I don’t quite understand what he was saying,” said the perma-tanned Caring, running his fingers through his long, flowing white hair. “I have seen some wonderful shots out of the trees, Seve Ballesteros-style.

“Luke hit one of the most magnificent shots I’ve ever seen out of the trees on 13 on Saturday. I just don’t see how we have lost that.

“You look at the equipment today where you fly a ball 300 yards in the air…do these guys really want to play on a course that’s fun where you can shoot 62s and 63s and end up winning with 26 or 28 under par?”

“I don’t think that’s fun, that’s easy golf. Fun is Disneyland. This is a challenge to a golfer.”

Caring, who made his fortune in property, leisure, fashion and catering, acknowledged the West Course on the outskirts of London was challenging and unforgiving but said he was delighted with the revamp.

“We have a sensational golf course,” he explained. “It’s a tough golf course but I wanted it to be tough, I wanted people to play with their heads but also with their talent round here and I think it’s been proven this past week.

“The cream rises to the top and we had the world number one spot being vied for by Luke and Lee and I don’t think we could have asked for a better result.”

Caring did acknowledge, however, that some of the pin placements set up by the tour had been tough.

“The tour saw (47-year-old) Colin Montgomerie go five-under-par after eight holes in Thursday’s first round and they panicked and thought, ‘My God, this is too easy,” he said.

“Before he even finished his round, they re-looked at the pin positions and decided they wanted to make it a bit more difficult. They also didn’t allow for the the bad weather but those pin positions on Friday were difficult, no question.

“We (Caring and Els) don’t pick the pin positions. I’d like to do that next year but I don’t think they’ll let me,” he laughed.

“The tour were looking to set it up in a very competitive manner but, then again, it’s their flagship tournament and they want it to be tough.”

After two years of complete redevelopment, Caring promised no more major changes.

“I think a golf course is the same as life, if you stand still you go backwards,” he said. “This golf course has been brought into a new age now.

“We’ll always tweak things and try new things but I can’t see any major changes coming up. We’ve done those.”

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