Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

The Fast and the Furious

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

The Fast and the Furious

Article excerpt

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- The golf course is so tough that it's been fitted with a warning sign. But for the first two rounds of The Barclays, birdies reigned supreme.

The low scores kept coming, each one of them taking a swipe at the mighty reputation of Bethpage State Park's Black Course.

Well, on Saturday, the Black Course took revenge. And not everyone was happy about it.

"Was it unfair? I wouldn't say it was unfair," Sergio Garcia said. "It was borderline. It was very close."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the conditions from the man who handled them the best. Garcia shot a 2-under-par 69 and is at 10- under for the tournament, two shots ahead of Nick Watney.

The issue was with the course's greens.

They were receptive in the morning hours and scores proved it -- Kevin Stadler (7-under for the tournament) surged into contention shooting a 6-under 65 while Phil Mickelson shot a 4-under 67 and is six strokes back. But as the sun baked the course and the wind dried it out, the greens got trickier by the minute. Shots that landed on some greens wouldn't stay. Putting became a game of guesswork.

"Usually, when you are putting on fast greens, you have an idea where the ball is going to stop," Garcia said, laughing. "And today, you didn't. You thought the ball was going to stop two feet behind the hole, and it went six."

The issues affected everyone, including Tiger Woods. After battling a tight back on Friday, Woods said he felt healthy Saturday. His putting, however, was not. He had four three-putts during his round and struggled to a 1-over 72. He's six shots behind Garcia's pace.

"It was unbelievable how fast they got," Woods said of the greens. "I felt like I hit good putts but my speed was awful. I don't remember blowing putts by eight to 10 feet. [I heard] a bunch of guys were doing that. So that was a bit of a shocker."

Not everyone was as diplomatic with their words as Woods.

Ian Poulter tweeted Saturday: "The worst course setup I have ever played in 13 years on tour. They have ruined what is a great course, greens like concrete stupid pins."

Later, Poulter told a small group of reporters the course is "a recipe for disaster. It's a long golf course; it's par 71. …

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