By Kent Gray
Is Earth set up too easy for the flagship event of the European Tour season? It depends entirely on the pro you ask.
Former Ryder Cup captain Paul McKinley got the debate going on Twitter.
“Should the order of merit be determined by pretty much one dimensional, front footed golf or should it be determined by more ebb / flow of birdies, bogies & doubles? This course could be set up so much tougher.”
Englishman Eddie Pepperell then really spiced things up after carding a third round 66, a six under par circuit that lifted him 16 places up the leaderboard to a share of 33rd but was almost par for the course on a red-numbered day on Greg Norman’s 7675 yard layout.
“I’m all for birdies and eagles…But boy that set up was too easy,” said Pepperell, widely regarded as one of the most intellegent players on tour.
- There was no denying the tees were pushed forward and pins made accessible. Forget not either the pristine greens. Tyrrell Hatton most noticeably took advantage on the 371 yard, par 4 15th which he drove with a three wood (!!!) and promptly eagled with an eight footer.
Thomas Bjorn, the reigning European Ryder Cup captain, waded into the debate shortly afterwards.
“I know a lot of people want tough setups in golf but today has been really good fun to watch.
Bring on a big Sunday!!!”
Perhaps Tommy Fleetwood, after a second successive 65 that keeps him in the thrilling (isn’t that what golf wants?) Race to Dubai conversation with Justin Rose heading into Sunday, summed it up best.
“Well, it’s strange, actually, because you’ve still got to do it. Like it’s not — it’s not like there’s — when you play, there’s actually not many gimmie holes where you think, I’m down to make birdie here, and if I don’t make birdie I’ve given that shot away.
“Just good golf I think. It really is. It’s quite bunched, so there’s been a lot of decent scores. But it’s not that easy. It just seems the golf’s been amazing, really. And I think the greens today were really good. A lot of putts were going in, and the wind wasn’t really that strong today.
“And the pins felt less accessible than yesterday. Yesterday felt like an easier sort of course set up to shoot, apart, from, say, holes like 15 where the tee was moved way forward. Yesterday felt like the easier day to shoot a low score.
“I got a quick peek at some of the scores on the leaderboard, and yeah, it’s been good to watch.”
Indeed. But don’t expect this debate to subside any time soon.