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Wet conditions for players at Loch Lomond

Soggy fairways at Loch Lomond are giving golfers a gloomy outlook before the start of the Scottish Open.

``It could be splat, splat, splat, putt,'' Nick Faldo said on Wednesday, the day before the tournament starts.

Conditions at the course, located north of Glasgow, are poor because the area has had unprecedented amounts of rainfall this year, particularly in the past week. The greens are no problem, but the fairways are mushy.

Chief referee John Paramor said preferred lies will probably be in effect for the first two rounds.

Defending champion Retief Goosen said the conditions might make driving a bit easier because the ball won't run off the fairway and into rough.

``When it rains like this, there is not as much wind either so that makes it a little easier,'' added Goosen, who shot a 9-under-par 62 in the first round last year before winning by three strokes.

Paramor said that, despite the weather, the event would continue.

``I think it would have to be pretty intense weather for the event to be called off or even seriously delayed,'' he said.

Rainfall in June was more than twice the average for the month over the past three years in one of the wettest areas of the country.

``It's obviously as wet a golf course as we will ever play,'' said Colin Montgomerie, the 1999 winner.

Ernie Els, who won two years ago, tried to stay optimistic.

``It is magnificent, one of the best courses we play anywhere in the world,'' Els said. ``It is a pity about the weather, but if we can get a couple good days -- you never know.''

Goosen hopes he will be able to continue the momentum from his strong finish Sunday at the European Open. He birdied four of the last six holes for a 68 that left him in a four-way tie for second place behind Michael Campbell, who won despite bogeys on the last four holes.

``I probably haven't swung the club the way I would have liked since the Masters, although last week I felt I was hitting the ball a bit better but didn't really make any putts until the last day,'' Goosen said.

There are several Americans playing, including Brad Faxon, 1997 winner Tom Lehman and Stewart Cink.

Cink's wife Lisa had to caddie for him in the pro-am Wednesday because his regular caddy had visa problems and was not expected until later in the day.


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